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36 percent of U.S. now plays digital games

Digital gaming is becoming increasingly popular, and more gamers than ever are ditching the physical medium entirely.

The NPD Group found that 36 percent of the U.S. population plays digital, or downloaded, games. That includes games on consoles, computers, and dedicated handhelds like the 3DS and PlayStation Vita.

The market research firm conducted the study with more than 6,000 people in the U.S. Roughly 16 percent of respondents said they were giving up physical media entirely and opting for digital titles only.

As expected, the PC is the most popular platform for digital distribution, with 90 percent of people getting their games online. Only 28 percent admitted to downloading games for consoles.

"As more consumers purchase the new consoles (Xbox One, PlayStation 4), we expect to see greater digital spending from digital console gamers as consumers indicated that purchasing these consoles will most likely increase their digital spending," NPD analyst Liam Callahan told GI.biz.

Earlier this month, Sony reported that nearly half of game sales for the PlayStation Vita were digital.

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Stephanie Carmichael Twitter: @wita
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