U.S. leads the world in adopting digital distribution

A new study released by Dutch market research company Today's Gamers reveals U.S. gamers most likely to pay for downloadable content, and females 50+ are more likely than their husbands to beat you at Halo.

The new study released Monday tabulates survey data from more than 13,000 Internet users in the U.S., France, the U.K, Belgium, Germany and the Netherlands. According to the findings, digital distribution is rapidly becoming a serious contender for retail outlets both domestically and abroad.

It was no surprise that the U.S. leads the world in gaming enthusiasm (83 percent of Americans claim to play video games) but 40 percent of U.S. console owners surveyed claim to have paid for extra content or full games via download. Though the U.S. does not rely on online retailers like the United Kingdoms (39 percent of U.K. gamers resort to places like Amazon to get their fix, reflecting a lack of retailer saturation thanks to outlets like GameStop) almost a fifth of American players buy full games online via their console download service of choice (PSN, XBox Live Marketplace or the Wii Virtual Console.)

The rest of the data bears out common stereotypes of gamers around the world, with the U.S. leading the world in console adoption while Germany remains a haven for PC gaming (almost half of all German gamers play PC exclusively, the highest of any country surveyed.) What is interesting is the U.S. breakdown by age group of gender vs. hours played, which reveals a startling correlation: as gamers age, women spend more time with video games while men spend less. According to the data, from the ages of 8 to 49 more men play games than women, and those women that do play spend fewer hours per week than their male counterparts. However, the 50+ age group surveyed was deadlocked (72 percent of both men and women over 50 admit to playing video games) and women over 50 actually spend almost half again as much time playing games per week as men (5.4 hours to 3.6 hours, respectively.) Further evidence that the phenomenon is alive and well.