According to Gamer Segmentation 2012: The New Faces of Gamers, the latest report from The NPD Group, a leading market research company, there are an estimated 211.5 million gamers in the US that play video games. This is a 5 percent decline, or loss of close to 12 million gamers, when compared with 2011.
Of the six gamer segments in the report, only Mobile Gamers and Digital Gamers experienced an increase in the number of gamers compared with 2011, with Mobile Gamers up 9 percentage points to 22 percent and Digital Gamers up 4 percentage points to 16 percent. All other gamer segments, which include Core Gamers, Family+Kid Gamers, Light PC Gamers, and Avid PC Gamers, experienced declines, with Family+Kid gamers experiencing the most significant decline of an estimated 17.4 million gamers.
"Given the long lifecycles of the current consoles and the increasing installed base of smartphones and tablets, it's not surprising to see a slight decline in the Core Gamer segment," said Anita Frazier, industry analyst, The NPD Group. "It's the revenue contribution of the Core Gamer segment that continues to outpace all other segments, and remains vital to the future of the industry."
Mobile gamers outnumber core gamers
The size of key gamer segments are shifting, with Mobile Gamers now representing the largest gamer segment, edging out Core Gamers, which was the largest segment in 2011.
"While this study segments the gaming audience based on a number of key variables and attributes, looking across the total gaming audience we see a tremendous impact from mobile gaming, particularly on smartphones and tablets," said Frazier. "Because of this, our next study, which will be released later this month, takes a deeper look into the area of mobile gaming."
Game purchasers reported spending an average of $48 on physical games and $16 on digital games-PC/console/portable in the past three months. Core Gamers spent $65 on physical games over the same time period; this is more than any other gamer segment.
Close to 14 percent of total gamers report that they purchased microtransactions/ additional game content in the past three months versus 11 percent during the same time period in 2011, with Core Gamers and Digital Gamers being the largest consumers of these types of purchases at 27 percent and 23 percent, respectively.
An online survey was fielded in March 2012 to members of NPD's online panel. Responses for kids under age 13, as well as some kids in the 13-15 age range, were captured through surrogate reporting (where the parent answers on behalf of the child). The data is weighted and representative of the US population ages 2 and older. The study is based on 8,488 completed surveys.