While traditional core gamers are still our most active and engaged market segment, digital gamers are quickly catching up, according to new research published by The NPD Group.
In a new report
based on data collected earlier this year, the NPD notes that what it defines as "digital gamers" -- those who play games on a variety of devices primarily via digital distribution -- are quickly catching up to core console gamers in terms of active engagement.
That segment already acquires more titles than core gamers, the report says, averaging 5.9 new games purchased in three months versus the core audience's 5.4. Core gamers still play more often at 18 hours per week, but digital gamers aren't far behind at 16.
The group's research also shows that digital game downloads are on the rise: even amongst core gamers polled, more than one-third of their acquisitions were delivered digitally, via devices ranging from consoles to PCs, smartphones and music players.
"The name of the game in 2011 seems to be choice," said NPD analyst Anita Frazier. "Gamers are increasingly branching out to methods of play other than those that the industry has traditionally expected them to use. 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.”
Core gamers still represent the highest percentage of the overall spectrum at 23 percent. Family and kid gamers trail slightly behind at 22 percent, with avid and light PC gamers both representing 15 percent. Mobile and digital gamers represent the smallest populations at the beginning of 2011.