US gamers are switching off the TV and are turning to gaming on their consoles and mobiles, says a study.
Nokia is amongst those aiming to temp gamers to mobile devices
The Ziff Davis survey of 1,000 Americans showed that 26% of gamers had cut the time spent watching TV this year, and a fifth more intended to.
The report also showed that, for the first time, more people played games on consoles than on their PCs.
But significantly, almost 16.3 million households had turned their thumb power to mobiles, double the number in 2003.
On the move
The Digital Gaming in America report showed that half of the 70% of gamers who own a mobile phone played games on them.
"Not only is mobile gaming strongly on the rise, but consumers' interest in media and advertising in general has begun tipping towards digital games and game-related channels," said Dale Strang from Ziff Davis' Game Group.
The mobile games market is set to be a lucrative battleground for the major console makers, with more than 100 million users expected by 2006.
18% purchased games for their mobile phones
Gamers spend average of 17 minutes every gaming session and 4.4 hours per week
Spent an average of $19 (£10) in the last 60 days on mobile games
Source: Ziff Davis
Nokia has already launched its N-Gage and N-Gage QD handheld devices and there are new mobile consoles, like the Gizmondo, expected in the coming year.
Sony's PSP and the Nintendo DS are expected to be released in Japan at the end of the year.
Nintendo said it was also planning to release the DS in the USA at the end of 2004. Unlike in the video games console market, it leads mobile gaming and has sold more than 190 million GameBoys worldwide.
The study showed that more than a quarter of gamers, 27%, said they were likely to go for a portable gaming system within the next year.
But 42% of the "hardcore gamers" - those who had bought at least three games in the last two months, or played for 15 or more hours a week - would buy one.
Used and online
The report illustrates how much gaming is becoming a key part of the entertainment and leisure culture.
"Gamers generally preferred magazines and websites over television for their gaming interests, citing magazines as providing credible game reviews and a relaxing experience," said Mr Strang.
About 54.5 million US households used consoles - like Sony's PlayStation, Microsoft's Xbox and Nintendo's GameCube - for their gaming pleasure, while 52.3 million played PC-based games.
Nintendo has dominated the handheld games market
The report showed that the cost of games and consoles could be contributing to gamers' habits too.
Recent price cuts have seen PlayStation 2 and Xbox drop to under £100 and this may be drawing gamers away from PCs.
A high proportion were using the net to buy the latest titles, with 70% buying up second-hand games.
About 16% of those bought used titles from online auction sites.