The online gaming aspirations of Microsoft, Sony and Nintendo received a major knock yesterday when an influential survey found that just six per cent of online gamers would be willing to pay for such a service.
Industry research group the Interactive Digital Software Association (IDSA) chose the Electronic Entertainment Expo in Los Angeles yesterday to reveal surveys which indicated that the gaming industry is, in all other respects, in good health.
Microsoft plans to charge gamers $49 a year to access its Xbox online network. Sony, with its PlayStation 2, and Nintendo, with its GameCube, will allow games developers to run titles on their own networks, for which users may have to pay a fee.
ISDA said that 31 per cent of gamers play online, up from 18 per cent in 1999, but that only six per cent would be willing to pay.
The news deals a blow to the core marketing ambitions of the three major console vendors, which were banking on the popularity of internet gaming.
The consoles dominate the youth market, the survey found, with most players being under 18 and male. However, 40 per cent of all PC gamers are over 36, according to ISDA.
ISDA president Doug Lowerstein said: "Video games have become a leading form of mass market entertainment as the core user has aged from teens to adulthood.
"Millions more casual gamers have joined the hardcore gamers to drive market growth and expansion."
Lowerstein also blamed the lack of broadband for the unenthusiastic reaction to online gaming.
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