NPD: Gamers are a declining species

September 7, 2012

The number of gamers is on the decline, with only the mobile and digital sectors on the rise. Does this suggest a sea change in the industry or will things right themselves again in 2013? Or, secret third option, could NPD’s numbers be on the wonk?

According to a new report from research firm NPD, titled Gamer Segmentation 2012: The New Faces of Gamers, the number of active gamers in the U.S. has declined 5 percent from 2011 to 2012. That represents a loss of 12 million gamers, with 211.5 million still proudly boasting that they belong to this group.

That 211.5 million is a phenomenal number. Sure, it may be 12 million less than 2011, but for more than two-thirds of the U.S. (current population 311 million) to call themselves gamers shows just how far the industry has come in a short space of time. However, the interesting part of the report is how these gamers are now breaking themselves up into smaller segments.

The study is based on the responses of over 8,000 people, all of which had to assign themselves to a particular group. The number of mobile and digital gamers are on the increase, but core gamers, family+kid gamers, light PC gamers, and avid PC gamers are all declining species. The family+kid group lost 17.4 million gamers.

If you’re asked which group you belong to, and can only choose one, then you’re likely to go with that which best describes you, even though your behavior probably straddles multiple groups. So more people are primarily buying mobile or digital games in 2012 than previously. Which isn’t really news.

Beyond that the report shows that core gamers are still the biggest spenders, paying out $65 on physical purchases in the previous three months. Again, this is no surprise, as core gamers are more heavily into games than the other, casual segments. So, what have we learned? That these NPD reports are pretty much a waste of time.

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