Gamer Budgets Increase, but Tilt More Toward Mobile

Did you spend less on games last year? More on mobile purchases? Ratings research firm Nielsen said gamers shifted their budgets into mobile app purchases and "other leisure activities," mirroring the widely-bemoaned sales decline seen last year.

Curiously, the whole-dollar figure gamers put toward games purchases remained somewhat flat, even if its slice of the gamer budget pie shrank to 8.5 percent from 9.3 percent the year before.

The drop was commensurate with other declines measured in buying or renting movies on DVD or paying for premium television. Seeing films in a theater, buying music, or subscriptions to print publications all got hit worse, to no one's surprise.

But "dining out, shopping, going to a park, etc." now accounts for a quarter of spending, Nielsen noted, and mobile phone-related entertainment such as downloading apps or using an Internet data plan, went up to 7.4 percent from 5.3 percent the previous year.

That doesn't necessarily mean gamers - households spending $1 or more per month on gaming, according to Nielsen – are backing off their game habits. "The screen is shifting but the content may be the same," concludes Nielsen.

The reason that, in whole dollars anyway, gaming spending remained constant even if its portion of the budget declined is because gaming households found 9 percent more cash to put to their entertainment in 2010, Nielsen said.

Given that many gamers already consider nearly everything disposable income, I'm not sure how that's possible.

U.S. Video Game Buyers Shifting Entertainment Budgets [Nielsen. Image by Getty Images]