The online gaming audience has seen a significant increase in the past year as people are increasingly looking for cheaper entertainment alternatives, driven partly by the economy, according to a new report from comScore.
The category attracted 87 million U.S. visitors in May 2009, up 22 percent compared to a year ago.
Yahoo Games was the most popular with 19.4 million visitors, representing a 6 percent increase over the past year, followed by EA Online with 18 million visitors (up 34 %), Nickelodeon Casual Games with 14.8 million visitors, and WildTangent Network with 13.8 million (up 16%). GSN Games Networks saw particularly strong gains in the past year, growing 563 percent to 6 million visitors, due in part to the additions of WorldWinner.com and CrazyMonkeyGames.
"Online gaming continues to be one of the top gaining categories over the past year growing at ten times the rate of the total U.S. Internet population and reaching nearly one out of every two Internet users," said Edward Hunter, comScore director of gaming solutions.
"And the growth in the category is occurring not only at the top gaming destination sites, but also through viral distribution platforms, including widgets and applications. In fact, some online gaming companies that distributed their games across sites are reaching as many people as the top online gaming sites."
Distributed content platforms can often reach audiences of a size comparable to online gaming destination sites. MochiMedia reached a combined audience of 16.9 million in May, greater than all but two sites in the online gaming category. Games2Win reached 1.8 million people, which compares favorably with the top twenty sites in the category, while Tetris Online reached 165,000 people.