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.

21 Responses to “NPD: Gamers are a declining species”

  1. CarlB:

    Wii (family + kid group) boosted the numbers temporarily.
    It’s only natural they settle down a little bit to what they were previously.

  2. phranctoast:

    With more than a half billion smart phones and tablets sold, mobile games better be on the rise. It would seem logical to deduce this.

  3. CarlB:

  4. CarlB:

    A whole lot more kids with game playing phones/tablets now.

  5. phranctoast:

    Sony’s responses in that article were terrible.

    It really just leaves me confused as to what they’re thinking because there actions leave you with the impression that they’re been doing the opposite.

    They make a big deal out of unique games, yet Assassins creed 3 liberation is mentioned. Then they say they don’t want it to be a smaller console game player yet they’re doing just that with these games, and offering cross game play.

    All I can say, is I hope there was something lost in translation, as it sounds like Sony doesn’t know what the hell its talking about.

  6. Roca.:

    Do you guys agree with this article?

    **”Video Game” is a Bad Name for the Medium**

    “I think if we refer to the medium as “video games,” we immediately inject a lot of intellectual baggage that comes with the idea of a “game,” and, at the same time, we limit ourselves to things that are expressly entertainment forms. We get the idea that gameplay is key, and that everything else should fall by the wayside”

    At its worst, you actually have people telling others that they shouldn’t play video games, because the medium’s all about gameplay, not story or anything else. In fact, it’s this remark that lets people get away with bad storytelling in games so frequently–indeed, this idea might actually be responsible for terrible narratives in video games, since stories are inherently selfish and must be given priority whenever they are included in anything”

    What if I want to make a… thing. I want to tell a story, but I want to use the unique strengths of the medium we call the video game–that is, interactivity–and tell a story that way. Most people would be aghast at the thought of a video game with little focus on gameplay, but… Gameplay isn’t necessarily important. Sometimes, maybe the gameplay isn’t the be-all, end-all goal of the medium. It’s a part–a defining element–but that’s a bit like being shocked at the idea of a film that uses its cinematics to tell a story, rather than be all about the moving pictures, or a novel that tells a story, rather than be entirely about the words. Games can be a medium–a means to an end, and not an end of their own”

    User 1 – “Certain things like slapping people’s faces in LBP or being able to obscure the other players screen in WarioWare could be seen as interactive comedy I suppose. Perhaps light-hearted griefing is our medium’s equivalent of early slapstick in films”

    User 2 – “The WarioWare and Griefing examples are pretty weak but you made an excellent point with LBP’s slap.

    LBP’s face slap is literally the ONLY thing I can think of where my in game actions resulted in a deliberate laugh that the developers where intending me to get.

    That slap only works as slapstick comedy for the first 10 minutes after I realize it is an option as I try to slap everyone I meet. After that, it’s back to platforming and getting annoyed at slap-happy players because they are taking away from the platforming experience”

    The only game that MAYBE very tenuously might be considered comedy is Sony’s Pain since it basically a super slapstick ragdoll simulation but even then that’s shaky.

    User 2 – “If you look at sports, people use the word ‘game’ a lot when referring to them, “Watching the game tonight?”, “EA Sports, Its in the game”. Yet it carries none of the baggage that the term ‘video game’ does. This is simply because sports have been ingrained into our culture, and people respect it because of that. Video games just haven’t got that far yet. So, I don’t think that our medium needs rebranding, just better games and more people playing them”

  7. phranctoast:

    I think I’m a bit dumber after reading all that. Next he can write an article on the term “game-play” to more mind numbing consequences.

  8. CarlB:

    Old issue, but I agree with the last paragraph quoted by roca here from “User 2″.

    As for the actual article, it might as well have been named “Over Generalizations”, as it seems the author woefully ignores definitions of “game” and “fun” which would apply.

    Anyone up for a “game” of chess? Hmmm… board games… might as well rename those also.

  9. CaptBirdman:

    Want to play chess Carl? I’m up to it. I might like chess more than video games.

    …but I do remember you not liking competitive games…

  10. CarlB:

    It was a rhetorical question. And no, I would rather read or write than play chess… and generally speaking, I still have no desire or need to play competitive games.

  11. CarlB:

    “All those 80-year-olds playing Wii Fit must have died off.”

  12. CaptBirdman:


    You big vagina

  13. CarlB:

    No need to be such a petty bird man.

  14. Kushy:

    Carl & Birdy sitting in a tree….. :P

  15. dans:

  16. Philistine:

    LMAO. . .too funny :D

  17. CaptBirdman:

    I’d be the most action Carl has gotten since 65.


  18. Roca.:


  19. CarlB:

    Don’t go for guys bird, but have fun with your fantasy.

  20. ncaissie:

    We are not declining. We are simply bored of this Gen. And the vita is a huge letdown. I might sell mine.

  21. Ivan_PSP:

    Vita is like PS3 at first soon we will see store running outer stock when Sony decides to allow Naughty Dog to make games for it.

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