A Study of the US Gaming Demographic

The NPD Group, the industry-research firm, earlier this year interviewed 11,638 gamers from ages 6 to 44. They’ve now released their findings, giving a detailed demographic analysis of how the estimated 191 million gamers in the US buy and play their games.

There are six different segments that the NPD Group divided gamers into. An estimated 33 percent of US gamers are “Avid PC Gamers,” who play an average of 13.6 hours per week, primarily on a PC or Macintosh. Members among this group only purchased, on average, 1.4 titles per quarter.

The second largest group is “Secondary Gamers,” which account for 22 percent of the US gaming population. On average, they play 6.5 hours a week, mainly on PC or Mac, with only a third owning the nation’s most popular console, the PlayStation 2. This group also only purchases an average of 0.8 games each quarter.

The largest group of non-PC gamers is “Avid Console Gamers,” who make up 20 percent of the US gaming population. These gamers play 10.7 hours per week on at least one console, and own an average of 1.6 consoles and 0.8 handhelds. These Avid Console Gamers buy around 1.9 games per quarter, also.

The next group is the “Mass Market Gamers.” Mass Market Gamers make up 15 percent of the US gaming public, and usually play an average of 8.9 hours each week, mainly on the PS2 and PC. This section also purchases own around 1.8 consoles.

The next and youngest group, comprising of children 6-12, is the “Casual Kid Gamers.” This group owns usually one console and 0.5 portables, usually the PS2 and Game Boy Advance. This group also only games for about 3.6 hours a week, and only purchases 0.8 games per quarter.

The last group included in this assessment is the hardcore gamers, deemed by the NPD Group as “Heavy Gamers.” Heavy Gamers own about 2.8 consoles and 1.9 portables. They play about 39.3 hours a week, mainly on Xbox 360 and Wii, and buy about 13.1 games every quarter. Hardcore are hardcore for a reason.

Heavy Gamers account for a diminutive portion of all gamers, just 3.8 million. This group’s spending habits are important to publishers and console-makers alike. “Heavy gamers have always been a focal segment for the games industry because they’re so deeply invested in gaming,” said NPD analyst Anita Frazier. “The potential for industry growth lies with the other, larger groups, and getting them increasingly involved in gaming over time.”

The NPD Group also found that Heavy Gamers are the most likely to buy games via digital download. The only group to surpass them, are Avid PC Gamers, who have purchased over half their games via online delivery. Three of every five Heavy Gamers buy game content via micro-transactions found through the PlayStation Store, Wii Virtual Console and Xbox Live Marketplace.

Heavy Gamers are – not surprisingly – the most likely to play games online, too, with 83 percent of the group jumping online. However, 74 percent of Avid PC Gamers also play online; likely due in no small part to MMORPGs.