Gamasutra: The Art & Business of Making Gamesspacer
View All     RSS
April 19, 2014
arrowPress Releases
April 19, 2014
PR Newswire
View All





If you enjoy reading this site, you might also want to check out these UBM TechWeb sites:


America's gamer population is shrinking
America's gamer population is shrinking
September 5, 2012 | By Eric Caoili

September 5, 2012 | By Eric Caoili
Comments
    22 comments
More: Console/PC, Social/Online, Smartphone/Tablet, Business/Marketing



The number of people playing video games in the U.S. is declining due to shrinking audiences in every gamer segment except for mobile and downloadable/online, according to the NPD Group.

Gamer Segmentation 2012: The New Faces of Gamers, the market research firm's latest report, estimates that 211.5 million people in the U.S. are playing video games in 2012 -- that's around two-thirds of the country's population, but close to 12 million fewer (5 percent less) than in 2011.

Most gamer segments that NPD tracked have contracted: core console gamers, light PC gamers, avid PC gamers, and family and kid gamers -- the last category took the biggest hit, shrinking by 17.4 million players.

However, the digital gamers (those playing downloadable and online titles) and mobile gamers segments grew significantly. The mobile category now makes up the largest out of all the groups, gaining 9 percentage points and taking 22 percent of the total share, edging out core console gamers.

NPD analyst Anita Frazier says these shifts in the gamer segments aren't surprising, considering the longer life cycles of the current home console generation, and the increasing installed base of smartphones and tablets.

The changes come at a cost for the industry, though -- NPD notes that core console gamers spent more on retail titles than any other segment in the last three months, an average of $65, compared to a $48 average across all game purchasers (and $16 for those buying digital titles).


Related Jobs

Treyarch / Activision
Treyarch / Activision — Santa Monica, California, United States
[04.19.14]

Associate Art Director - Treyarch
Treyarch / Activision
Treyarch / Activision — Santa Monica, California, United States
[04.19.14]

Associate Animator (temporary) - Treyarch
Activision Publishing
Activision Publishing — Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada
[04.19.14]

Principal Graphics Programmer
Activision Publishing
Activision Publishing — Santa Monica, California, United States
[04.19.14]

Executive Producer-Skylanders










Comments


Matt Robb
profile image
I'm willing to bet "family and kid gamers" took the biggest hit because "normal" people are just that bored of the Wii at this point.

I'd also like to point out to all those publishers, investors, and studios that number about dollars spent per "gamer type". Those console types spending 60+ per month are your long-term money, not the mobile section.

L Spiro
profile image
Matt would know about family gaming and getting tired of Nintendo Wii. ;)

But I think that applies to other consoles too, just to a lesser degree. At this stage of a generation of consoles this trend is fairly normal.

If this is the trend 1 or 2 years after the next generation of consoles is released, that would be cause for alarm.


That being said, gamers only stop playing games “period” when they grow older and “move on with life”. Aside from that, actual gamers may not be happy with the state of current games, but they still play them.
If the number of gamers is decreasing, it means those gamers who moved on with life are not being replaced by younger gamers.
And with the state of games these days who could blame them?

Think about what attracted you to games as a child. FarmVille may be popular, but when you get home from junior high are you really going to rush into your bedroom to water crops? It’s for adults, not kids.

Mobile games are on the rise, but how many 6-year-olds own their own iPhones? Having a parent let his or her kid play Angry Birds once-in-a-while is not the same as getting home from school, rushing to your room, turning on your Super Nintendo Entertainment System, and doing a 20+ combo on Eyedol for hours every day after school. Or beating your older brother in Super Mario Kart. Or the countless hours we all spent playing Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde on Nintendo Entertainment System. Maybe that was a bad example…

Then there is the fact that back in the day parents may have been willing to spend $199 on a Christmas present, but not the $400 and up that new consoles will cost now, especially in this economy.


The industry is shifting towards social games because that is where the money is now, but it is not doing much to recruit a younger generation of gamers to replace the ones who will, eventually, stop playing.


L. Spiro

Nathan Zufelt
profile image
"estimates that 211.5 million people in the U.S. are playing video games in 2012 -- that's around a third of the country's population"

- Did the population of the US jump to 600 million in the last few weeks?

Megan Quinn
profile image
It would not shock me that the author indeed thought it was 600.

Chris Rigopulos
profile image
must have meant 2/3

Eric Caoili
profile image
That should've read two-thirds! Corrected the article, sorry for the confusion.

Danny Bernal
profile image
Here's my theory ... The economy took a crap a few years ago. People lost jobs and went home... they discovered they had more time for games. they "invested" in gaming because they needed something to fill their time. while the rest of the economy crapped out over the last few years, games grew.

2012. the economy is marginally better, but people are getting hired. anyone home is tight on cash...


It all makes sense to me. if anything maybe this slump is a good thing. a sort of normalizing.

William Johnson
profile image
But that doesn't make sense on why so many people are buying iPads.

Alex Nichiporchik
profile image
@William - the consoles are now in their longest life cycle ever. An iPad offers something new. And you can play it in the train and on the couch.

And the games cost up to $5 vs $50

Mike Rentas
profile image
The numbers were probably inflated from the Wii/DS crowd. Now that casual gaming is moving over to 99¢ phone apps (and the Wii hasn't had a major release other than a couple of super hardcore JRPGs in months), it makes sense that the market would shift like this.

k s
profile image
I think you nailed it Mike.

Joe Zachery
profile image
Well let's look at the entire casual market. The Wii, and DS has been done for almost 2 years now. Your only consoles that were growing the industry this generation. All the so called casual games from Wii Sports types, Wii Fit types, Guitar Hero/RockBand, and Dance. All are pretty much dead except for The Dance genre. Now we through in the decline in JRPGs, Fighters, 2D Platformers, and Sports games. All we have left are FPS, and your yearly AAA titles that launch in the last part of the year. So the entire market has shifted due to only one group being supported aka FPS Console/PC gamers.

Saul Gonzalez
profile image
Are we seeing a repeat of Japan 10 years ago?

Johnathon Swift
profile image
Yeah, completely static game design and themes for the most part. "It still makes money for me!"

Means people are tired of paying for the same game over and over again.

Ramin Shokrizade
profile image
While I feel that this trend is likely to occur any time you have a disconnect between what gamers want and what they are being offered, I have to agree with Christian that the methodology of this analysis is too weak to merit drawing any conclusions from it. Obviously digital (including mobile) distribution is superior to older methods which are slow to adapt to market trends for a number of reasons.

Johnathon Swift
profile image
Welcome to the effects of "big" games targeting an ever narrowing market while mobile games target an ever broader market. If the type of game you want doesn't exist in the big, triple A quality, well a close enough type thing for $3 is good enough yeah? Why spend $50 on the latest Mario that's just the same when Temple Run is good enough?

Joe Zachery
profile image
Not a good example used there. Assassin Creed, Uncharted, Tomb Raiders are Big games that targeting narrowing market. You can't get more mainstream than Mario, and he has the numbers to prove.

Gern Blanston
profile image
More people now than ever can't afford to game, or have simply lost interest.

John Flush
profile image
Most people lost interest because it is harder to start these days. Gone are the days of starting a console and playing - instead you have to login to your account, find the game in a cluttered menu, start the game, wait for all the preview logos, and then finally start gaming. - or, turn on TV, watch your favorite channel.

Also where is the peer pressure of playing games. With hardly anything BUT Wii games being easy to play localmultiplayer games who wants to do this other than the 'forever alone' people or the people that are at the right age group that they all moved online about the same time? Kids are going to grow up with throw away single player experiences on their phones with leader boards at best... that is hardly anything to drive a culture with sticking power.

Then again, the simple explanation would be this is year 6-8 or the console cycle right? will it ever die and spark new excitement.

Andrew Dobbs
profile image
It's good to see an article that confirms reality instead of denies it. Mobile/social/digital revenue is not replacing what we are losing in the console and traditional retail space.

Matt Ployhar
profile image
@Eric -

I've been staring at NPD data for 14 years. Was on one of their advisory panels recently. You do realize that they're missing all the Digital Distribution Sales & F2P markets right?

When looking at NPD - which covers Retail US - across all platforms - yes - you'll see this sort of a 'constriction' effect. However; when you throw in all the other market shifts occurring amongst the platforms and business models. I think what's really happening is that there's actually small growth occurring. The 'Core' gamers haven't really shrunk... but have moved.

Matt Robb
profile image
Just an example that supports your conclusion, but currently, if you are an MMORPG player and don't feel like playing World of Warcraft, you're almost entirely stuck with F2P games right now. As I understand it, NPD data wouldn't even register the existence of these customers.


none
 
Comment: