5 things to know about 'core' game players in the United States

Analysts at the NPD Group recently surveyed over 6,000 people in the United States to find out what the "core gamer" demographic was up to in 2012. Are they still male-dominated? Are they spending less? The answers within!
Analysts at the NPD Group recently surveyed 6,322 United States citizens over the age of 9 to find out their gaming habits and, specifically, what "core gamer" habits were in 2012. How the NPD Group defines the "core" is a person who plays specific genres of games on consoles or PCs an average of five hours or more per week. The specifics behind the survey are available here. Below, we've highlighted our five key takeaways, both from the information publicly available and through follow-up conversations with NPD analyst Liam Callahan.

Roughly 14 percent of Americans over 9 are core gamers

And by comparison, almost half of the U.S. population in that age range plays games on what the NPD calls "core gaming devices," meaning dedicated home game consoles as well as Windows and Macintosh-based PCs.

Their mean age is 30

And while younger players are more likely to be considered "core," the likelihood doesn't diminish dramatically until people reach 45. Specifically, 26 percent of surveyed 9-17 year-olds were identified as core, which drops to 21 percent in the 18-34 crowd.

They skew heavily male

This probably is no surprise. While the overall U.S. population that plays games of any kind is split 50/50 between genders, males dominate the core demographic at 71 percent.

They're spending less than they used to...

Approximately ten percent more of the NPD's identified core say that their spending decreased versus one year ago than those stating that their spending increased, which is roughly in line with the 22 percent decrease in retail game sales in 2012.

...but what they do spend tends to be on new, retail games

The majority of core gamers spent the most on new physical games, for an average of $129 during the last three months of 2012 alone. The amount they spent on digital full games and physical used games both came in at less than half that amount.

Latest Jobs


Hybrid, Cambridge, MA or Chicago, IL
Quality Assurance Lead

Bladework games

Remote (United States)
Senior Gameplay Engineer

High Fidelity, Inc.

Game Interaction Designer

Fred Rogers Productions

Hybrid (424 South 27th Street, Pittsburgh, PA, USA
Producer - Games & Websites
More Jobs   


Explore the
Advertise with
Follow us

Game Developer Job Board

Game Developer


Explore the

Game Developer Job Board

Browse open positions across the game industry or recruit new talent for your studio

Advertise with

Game Developer

Engage game professionals and drive sales using an array of Game Developer media solutions to meet your objectives.

Learn More
Follow us


Follow us @gamedevdotcom to stay up-to-date with the latest news & insider information about events & more