NPD reports: 174 million gamers in the US

Market research firm the NPD Group has published its Games Segmentation 2008 report, revealing that the US gaming population totals approximately 174 million.

The report, which was compiled using information collected from more than 20,000 members of NPD’s online consumer panel aged two and above before weighting final survey data to represent the US population, divides the total number of gamers into seven “gamer segments” and analyzes their ownership and usage patterns.

The report classifies three percent of the total 174 million gamers as Extreme Gamers, nine percent as Avid PC Gamers, 17 percent as Console Gamers, 14 percent as Online PC Gamers, 15 percent as Offline PC Gamers, 22 percent as Young Heavy Gamers and 20 percent as Secondary Gamers.

Young Heavy Gamers is the largest segment with over 38 million gamers. Young Heavy Gamers typically make up at least one third of any system’s owners and tend to favor portable platforms – six out of every ten DS and PSP owners fall into the segment.

In contrast, Extreme Gamers show a strong preference for PS3 and Xbox 360. On average, Extreme Gamers play games for a total of 22.3 hours per week, and have purchased nearly 24 titles across all their systems in the past three months, although the segment is the smallest of the seven identified in the report.

“Although Extreme Gamers are heavily involved with the industry, they represent a small portion of the potential market for any new game that comes to market,” said NPD analyst Anita Frazier. “In order to promote continued growth, we must better understand all of the gaming segments.”

According to the report, while the PC is used more than any single console for gaming, Console Gamers, Young Heavy Gamers and Extreme Gamers are more likely to use consoles than a PC to play videogames.

Console Gamers spend 8.2 hours per week playing games on average, and purchased 3.2 games in the past three months.

Among current generation console owners, PlayStation 3 owners are most likely to own other current gen consoles. The report also found that just ten percent of PlayStation 2 owners also own a PlayStation 3.

On the subject of digital purchases, 14 percent of games purchased in the past three months across all segments were digital downloads, with Avid PC Gamers making 27 percent of their purchases digitally.

More than half of Extreme Gamers and just over a third of Avid PC Gamers said that they would definitely download a feature to enhance a specific game that they own.

Note: The Games Segmentation 2008 report was conducted in January, meaning that questions that refer to consumer behavior in the past three months include the Christmas/Hanukkah holidays.

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