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Even the summer's hottest blockbusters, like "Star Trek", pictured here, couldn't save the movie industry from being outdone by the video game industry, according to a recent market research study.  (Source: Wired.com)

The study found that while consoles, such as the top-selling Nintendo Wii, continue to dominate sales, digital downloads, such as App store iPhone games, are growing in popularity.  (Source: Nintendo/Apple App Store)
The movie industry has more to worry about from video games than piracy

The movie industry, like the music industry, has complained of alleged rampant piracy hurting its sales.  While there may or may not be truth in such gripes, perhaps the movie industry should worry more about video games and less about piracy; according to a recent study more people now play video games than go to the movies.

According to a research study titled "Entertainment Trends In America", authored by market research group NPD, even the summers hottest blockbusters like X-Men Origins: Wolverine, Terminator: Salvation, and Star Trek have been unable to outdo the appeal of video games.  In the last six months, it found that 63 percent of Americans played video games, while only 53 percent went out to see a movie in the same time frame.

Analysts cited new gaming venues, such as games on social networks and digital downloads (such as cell phone games), as factors in the expansion of video games' audience.  Between December 2008 and February 2009, surveyed Americans spent, on average, $38 per month on "all types of gaming content".  NPD analyst Russ Crupnick says that the majority of video game revenue still lay with physical sales for consoles or the computer, but that "digital downloads and other delivery and game-play formats are also rising in popularity."

Over the past 12 months, 31 percent bought a console or portable video game, up 7 percentage points from the previous year.  The survey's numbers also indicated that "traditional gamers" are increasingly embracing varied venues.  Among the gamers, over 31 percent played a game on a gaming website, 12 percent played a game on social networking website, 19 percent played a game preloaded on their mobile phone, and 11 percent downloaded a game to their mobile phone.

Movies did score one minor victory -- only 12 percent of people said they planned on buying a new video game in the next 12 months, while 13 percent said they would see a movie in this same time period (though this may mean little, as both video games and movie tickets are often impulse buys).

While video games may be surpassing the venerable medium of cinema in terms of popularity, the NPD says they still are far from as popular as music.  Over 94 percent of the people surveyed reported they listened to music in the same time period. 

NPD analyst Anita Frazier summarizes the results, stating, "Video games account for one-third of the average monthly consumer spending in the U.S. for core entertainment content, including music, video, games.  While a portion of that share stems from the premium price of console games, we’re also seeing an overall increase in the number of people participating in gaming year-over-year."





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