As game sales at retail continue to suffer in the U.S., gamers have become more receptive to downloading or buying their games online thanks to lowered barriers of entry, according to a new study.
The NPD Group's new Online Gaming 2012
report has found that 75 percent of U.S. consumers who play games online acquired at least one title during the first three months of 2012. It also says the percentage of gamers who prefer to download or buy titles online has increased considerably compared to last year (35 percent, compared to 25 percent in 2011).
This increase comes after several straight months of the game industry taking a beating at retail -- analysts expect console and handheld software revenues to hit a six-year low
this year, with sales down by as much as a quarter compared to 2011.
But sales from downloadable games, both paid and free-to-play, could help offset that decline in revenues for the industry. NPD notes that free-to-play titles on mobile devices have made it easier than ever for consumers to acquire their games online.
The market research group reports that consumers who only acquire games online have downloaded an average of six titles, while those who buy them only at retail purchased an average of three. Consumers open to both physical and digital formats acquired an average of 15 games.
NPD also noticed a slight increase of online gamers who say that entertainment features on their consoles distract them from gaming, as well as those who say that they're spending less money on games because of those entertainment features.
Adding to evidence that more consumers are using consoles for their media consumption features
, one in five online gamers say that another household member use their system for non-game entertainment activities (up by 3 percent compared to 2011).