Gaming population in US has declined 5% according to NPD

The number of mobile gamers is up, however

The NPD Group today announced that there are about 211.5 million gamers in the US, which is down five percent compared to last year. The firm's newest report, Gamer Segmentation 2012: The New Faces of Gamers, notes that of the six gamer segments outlined, only Mobile Gamers and Digital Gamers saw increases in the number of gamers when compared to 2011, with Mobile Gamers up 9 points to 22 percent and Digital Gamers up 4 points to 16 percent.

Importantly, Mobile Gamers now represent the largest gamer segment, ahead of Core Gamers, which was the largest segment in 2011. NPD also said that the Family+Kid gamers segment experienced 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."

"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," she continued. "Because of this, our next study, which will be released later this month, takes a deeper look into the area of mobile gaming."

More stories

Tappx acquires Fantasy Manager developer From The Bench

The adtech company is looking to diversify its strategy and enter the mobile games market

By Marie Dealessandri

DAGERSystem acquires Can I Play That

Accessibility non-profit purchases website "to become the largest resource for game-accessibility journalism in the world"

By Brendan Sinclair

Latest comments (13)

James Prendergast Process Specialist 9 years ago
Wait... we have all these new gamers and the population is declining? That makes no sense! The console generation is old, yes, but those people don't disappear and stop playing games... surely?!
0Sign inorRegisterto rate and reply
James Brightman Editor, North America, GamesIndustry.biz9 years ago
I think some have stopped and some have switched to playing on mobile.
0Sign inorRegisterto rate and reply
Pier Castonguay Programmer 9 years ago
There is no such thing as "switched to playing on mobile". It's two completely different markets.
2Sign inorRegisterto rate and reply
Show all comments (13)
Well said, Pier.

We are back to the pre-Wii days, Prend.
0Sign inorRegisterto rate and reply
Brian Lewis Operations Manager, PlayNext9 years ago
Those that wish to make the sales may consider them different markets...
Those that wish to purchase entertainment may not.

The consumer does not often know what market they are supposed to support, and instead just buy what they like. This tends to throw off the numbers.
0Sign inorRegisterto rate and reply
Bruce Everiss Marketing Consultant 9 years ago
This is obviously wrong.
It depends how you define "gaming population".
Obviously console players have decreased dramatically. The Wii drop off and the sharp decline in software sales show that.
But vastly more people are playing games on other platforms.
Angry Birds has over a thousand million downloads, for instance.
0Sign inorRegisterto rate and reply
Tom Keresztes Programmer 9 years ago
There are some people who just do not migrate to the next platform. Not quitting, just getting on the new one and the old one disappearing as a commercially viable platform for developers.
0Sign inorRegisterto rate and reply
John Bye Lead Designer, Freejam9 years ago
Bruce, just because this doesn't agree with your world view doesn't mean it's "obviously wrong", although the article above certainly doesn't tell the whole story. The original source is here, which gives a lot more detail.

Firstly, this is segmenting the market, not saying what percentage of people use each platform. Just because somebody is counted as a core gamer doesn't mean they don't play iPhone games as well, for example. I know you'd like to think people stop playing any other type of game as soon as they discover Apple and Zynga, but it's clearly not true.

Secondly, the number of people classed as core gamers has dropped from 23 to 21% of the gaming population in the USA, and that population itself has dropped from 223 to 211 million people, so the number of people they class as core gamers is down from about 51 million people to 44 million, a drop of about 14% if my maths is right. Which is bad, but not cataclysmic .. yet.

The key information which supports NPD's statement that core gamers remain a vital segment for the industry is this -
Core gamers dropped 2% to 21% of the gaming population. But core gamers spent the most money on games -- $65 on physical games in the past three months -- than any segment of gamers. On average, gamers spent $48 on physical games and $16 on digital games for PCs, consoles or portables over the past three months.
In other words, slightly more people are now classed as mobile gamers than core gamers (22% vs 21%), but core gamers are still spending a lot more money. Which makes sense. How many people do you think spend $20 a month on mobile phone games? Also, core gamers are more likely to spend money on digital content than any other segment, including "digital gamers", ironically.

Also, as you say yourself, Wii (and DS) sales have collapsed, and Kinect isn't doing so well either, which is presumably covered by the 35% drop in the number of people described as "Family+Kid". That's the main reason why console sales are down. The core gamer market is still there and still spending a lot of money, even if retail sales have fallen (hardly surprising given most of the world has been in recession for four years), but a lot of the casual market Nintendo tapped into with their last generation has moved on.

The fact that Microsoft put all their eggs in the Kinect basket, causing a drought of first party Xbox 360 software for the core gamer over the last two years, probably hasn't helped either, particularly in the USA, where the 360 is the dominant core gamer console.

If you combine this report with other recent news, it's clear the story's a lot more complex than hordes of gamers abandoning consoles and switching to Angry Birds, as you like to suggest. The latest Madden game recently got record day one sales for the series, and the last Call of Duty game had the biggest launch in entertainment history, making over $1bn in two weeks. That's as much as the entire app store is making in three months at the moment.

In other words, there's plenty of room in this market for everyone.
7Sign inorRegisterto rate and reply
Adam Learmonth Studying BSc (Hons) Computer Game Applications Development, University of Abertay Dundee9 years ago
"The consumer does not often know what market they are supposed to support, and instead just buy what they like. This tends to throw off the numbers."

...what??? The consumer buys and plays what s/he wants to buy and play, and the market, if it has any sense, responds to *those* numbers. Consumers are not "supposed to support" anything.

Anyway, I'd need to know more about this analysis before reaching any verdicts. Did they get this number from sales reports, or from extrapolating survey data? Could it be the case that many casual gamers who previously played Wii or DS titles have found a new niche in mobile or browser gaming that doesn't get picked up on official counts? Or is it just that [cliché] there's still a recession on and people generally have less money to spare for games, and less free time to play them? [/cliché]
0Sign inorRegisterto rate and reply
Jim Webb Executive Editor/Community Director, E-mpire Ltd. Co.9 years ago
Let's also note that we are on the tail end of a console cycle. This is a period of time where many gamers go back and play games they bought but never finished or simply want to play again while they wait and/or save up money for the next console launch.

Way too many facets going on to narrow it down to just 1 simple cause.

"thousand million" - definitely one of the few things Americans did right regarding their changes to the English language. We call it a "billion" and I'm quite certain the majority of those billion downloads were free and then forgotten.

Once upon a midnight dreary, while I pondered, call me leery,
Over a download to quell my bothersome bore,
With pigs attacking, I started tapping
slightly rapping, gently whacking on my iPhone 4,
A slingshot snapping, what is happening on my iPhone 4,
I played once, now nevermore.
0Sign inorRegisterto rate and reply
Bruce Everiss Marketing Consultant 9 years ago
More gaming devices will be sold in America this year than any other year in history.
0Sign inorRegisterto rate and reply
Bruce Everiss Marketing Consultant 9 years ago
America did not get it right.
The word Billion is massively ambiguous.
0Sign inorRegisterto rate and reply
Jim Webb Executive Editor/Community Director, E-mpire Ltd. Co.9 years ago
And if I'm not mistaken, didn't your government switch to the American short scale a few decades back?

A name for every apostrophe increment is a good deal easier to work with than every 2 increments with a combination of placeholder names in between them.
0Sign inorRegisterto rate and reply

Sign in to contribute

Need an account? Register now.