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Free online games grow as economy worsens

January 28, 2009 | 10:17 am
Addicting Games

Free is a very good price. With Americans tightening their belts, many have turned to free online games for amusement.

While others have seen online ad revenues slide, online gaming sites (not to be confused with online gambling sites) saw display advertising views spike 29% in November from a year earlier, according to a report released this morning by research firm ComScore. That's primarily because these sites saw more people coming to play their games. While overall Internet traffic grew 4% in December, the number of visitors to online gaming sites grew 27% from December 2007 to 86 million, ComScore said. They're also spending more time on the sites, up 42% per visitor.

"“It appears that online, ad-supported gaming is one of the activities that has benefited during this economic downturn,” said ComScore analyst Edward Hunter. “Not only have consumers turned to outlets such as gaming to take their minds off the economy, but as they curtail their discretionary gaming-related purchases they are turning to free alternatives.”

It's important to note that the survey does not include data from massively multiplayer online games such as EverQuest and World of Warcraft, both of which require monthly subscriptions to play.

The top free-to-play gaming sites that posted gains in December include:

  • Yahoo Games +20%
  • EA Online +21%
  • Disney Games +13%
  • WildTangent +74%
  • Addicting Games +17%

Sadly, with more folks out of work, these sites could see continued growth in the coming months.

-- Alex Pham

Image: Addicting Games, a free-to-play game site owned by MTV Networks.  Credit: Addicting Games