NPD report: 'Digital gamers' encroaching on 'Core gamer' turf

According to a new report from NPD, digital gaming (i.e. "not retail" gaming) is on the rise, with "digital gamers" gaining headway against "core gamers" in two categories. Specifically, digital gamers spend sixteen hours gaming per week, as compared to the eighteen hours spent by the core. Digital gamers actually purchase more games, pulling in 5.9 games over the last three months, while their core brethren brought home 5.4 in the same period. Meanwhile, both groups are actually hefty acquirers of downloadable games, with downloadable titles accounting for more than a third of overall game purchases.

The question, then, is what exactly separates the two demographics? After all, it looks like they share fairly similar habits, according to the numbers. We turned to NPD's David Riley, who explained that core gamers as defined by NPD are "very engaged across all systems, especially consoles" and have "higher use of Xbox 360 and PS3 than all other segments." When it comes to digital purchases, core gamers are more likely to buy add-on content than full games.

Digital gamers, on the other hand, "are engaged in a variety of gaming, from PC to mobile, console to portable, online and offline." They also have the "highest number of digital games acquired" and particularly enjoy the immediacy of downloadable purchases.

Still, it's clear that there's some crossover between demographics, something that seems to be recognized by NPD itself. Citing the growth of mobile and tablet gaming, NPD's Anita Frazier notes, "what a game is and what it means to be a gamer is evolving, reflecting the rapid nature of change within the industry."
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Port Washington, NY, June 27, 2011 - According to Gamer Segmentation 2011: The New Faces of Gamers, the latest report from leading market research company The NPD Group, Core Gamers, once considered to be the leading gaming segment within the video game industry, is facing rising competition from Digital Gamers for amount of time spent gaming and number of games acquired.

At 18 hours per week, Core Gamers still spend the most amount of time gaming, but Digital Gamers are heavy gamers as well, spending 16 hours per week. The average number of games acquired by Core Gamers in the past three months is 5.4 games, while Digital Gamers are the heaviest game acquirers, reporting an average of 5.9 games acquired for any system/device over the same time period.

When looking at the number of digital games downloaded among those who acquired at least one game, it is Digital Gamers and Core Gamers who stand out with the highest number of digital games purchased; for both segments, more than one-third of the total games acquired are digital.

According to the report, Core Gamers represent the highest number of gamers (23 percent), followed by Family+Kid Gamers at 22 percent. Avid PC Gamers and Light PC Gamers both represent 15 percent of gamers, with Mobile Gamers and Digital Gamers trailing.

From consoles and portables to smartphones, digital music players to PCs, today's use of systems and electronic devices for gaming is more diverse than ever before. While there are still certain clear-cut system affinities, most of the gamer segments are playing on at least three systems.

The platforms people use to game on have therefore become somewhat less dominant as a segment driver, with other metrics pushed to the forefront such as hours per week spent gaming, likelihood to acquire and purchase games and digital/physical purchasing behavior.

"The name of the game in 2011 seems to be choice. Gamers are increasingly branching out to methods of play other than those that the industry has traditionally expected them to use," said Anita Frazier, industry analyst, The NPD Group. "Fueled by the growth of smartphones and new tablet devices, mobile gaming continues to accelerate, and what a game is and what it means to be a gamer is evolving, reflecting the rapid nature of change within the industry."

The data was collected February-March 2011, and is based on a total of 8,214 respondents ages 2+. 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.

About The NPD Group, Inc.
The NPD Group is the leading provider of reliable and comprehensive consumer and retail information for a wide range of industries. Today, more than 1,800 manufacturers, retailers, and service companies rely on NPD to help them drive critical business decisions at the global, national, and local market levels. NPD helps our clients to identify new business opportunities and guide product development, marketing, sales, merchandising, and other functions. Information is available for the following industry sectors: automotive, beauty, commercial technology, consumer technology, entertainment, fashion, food and beverage, foodservice, home, office supplies, software, sports, toys, and wireless. For more information, contact us, visit, or follow us Twitter at

This article was originally published on Joystiq.