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Games dominate Internet in US

Facebook, MySpace trailing.

Online gaming in the US is more popular than any of the video sharing and social networking sites, GamesIndustry.biz reports.

Despite developers and publishers looking to sites like YouTube, Facebook and MySpace as inspiration for community features, research by Park Associates shows that 34 per cent of US users already spend their Internet time playing games.

This is the largest slice of the online pie, leading video sites at 29 per cent and social networking hotspots at 19 per cent.

"Despite the growing popularity of YouTube, MySpace, and Facebook, gaming remains the king of online entertainment, driven largely by casual gaming activities," said James Kuai, boffin at Park Associates.

"Gaming also has business advantages. Unlike sites for social networking and video streaming, which rely solely on advertising revenue, casual gaming has more mature and heterogeneous revenue models, including web-based and in-game advertising, try-before-you-buy, subscriptions, and micro-transactions," detailed Kuai.

Year-on-year growth rates show that gaming has seen a 79 per cent rise in frequent online players, compared to 46 per cent using social networking sites.

But the biggest growth rate is for users of video sharing sites such as YouTube, which leapt by 123 per cent, according to Park Associates.

"The casual gaming industry cannot rest on its laurels," said Kuai.

"In order to counter the growing competition from other online activities, the industry needs to continue to grow its fan base and find ways to better monetise its existing audience."

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Robert Purchese

Senior Staff Writer

Bertie is senior staff writer and Eurogamer's Poland-and-dragons correspondent. He's part of the furniture here, a friendly chair, and reports on all kinds of things, the stranger the better.

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