Male consumers in North America now spend more money on videogames than they do on music, according to a survey by research group Nielsen Entertainment.
Only DVDs continue to outstrip games as a purchase category, said the survey, which took account of both CD and MP3 sales as well as other means of buying music.
The survey also revealed that gaming now appeals to an older audience, with almost 25 per cent of gamers over the age of 40.
Around 79 per cent of both male and female gamers over 45 tend to play alone, while teenage girls are most likely to opt for multiplayer sessions. Active gamers spend around five hours a week playing on their own, and three hours playing with others or online.
The US games industry now has an annual revenue of $10 billion - approximately equal to box office sales. Games systems - consoles, handhelds and gaming PCs - are now found in 40 per cent of US homes, and 23 per cent of households own all three types. Around 8 per cent of console gamers own a PS2, Xbox and GameCube.
Nielsen Entertainment, a unit of Netherlands-based firm VNU NV and operator of the SoundScan music sales service, interviewed 1500 people between January and February for the survey. The company is now researching ways of measuring consumer response to in-game advertising.