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The numbers are in: Here's what Americans spent on games in 2012
The numbers are in: Here's what Americans spent on games in 2012
February 5, 2013 | By Frank Cifaldi

The United States collectively spent $14.8 billion on video games in 2012.

That's according to estimates from The NPD Group, which released its annual tally on Tuesday. That figure incorporates all possible spend on video game software: physical and digital, new and used, rented and permanent, full games and pieces of content. It does not, however, include hardware and accessories.

While $14.8 billion is nothing to scoff at, that figure is down from a year ago: the estimate for 2011 is $16.34 billion, meaning that Americans spent 9 percent less in 2012.

That entire $1.54 billion difference is more than explained by 2012's rough year for physical, boxed games, which saw a 22 percent -- or $2.03 billion -- decline in 2012. Digital sales are on the rise -- up 16 percent from $5.09 billion to $5.92 billion -- but it wasn't enough to make up for retail's performance in a rough transitional year.

The following numbers were provided by the NPD Group as part of its "2012 Games Market Dynamics: U.S." report:
  • Total Physical (new, used, rental) $8.88B (from $11.25B, -21%)

  • Digital: $5.92B (from $5.09B, +16%)

  • Total: $14.80B (from $16.34B, -9%)

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Jon Shiring
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"Digital: $5.92B (from $5.92B, -9%)"

Cut & paste error there - and I'm not sure if the percentage is the wrong one, or the actual dollar amount.

alexander hemsley
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Because Value doesn't release their numbers does digital numbers include steam?

GameViewPoint Developer
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Combination of the current economic climate and 2012 being the last year of the big consoles, I'm surprised the drop wasn't bigger.

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Let's be clear about the digital number NPD provides: it's a total guess. They have very little real information sales through XBLA, PSN, Steam, Origin, Amazon, subscriptions like WoW, micro-transactions like LoL, mobile sales and micro-transactions, Facebook micro-transactions and the list goes on and on. Zynga alone had revenues of 1.2 billion last year. How many billions were spent on games in the AppStore? Are those reflected in the digital number from the NPD?

This is so comical, it's like the movie industry not counting DVD and Blu-ray sales and rentals. And yet the large investors and market analysts just eat this stuff up. What's going to happen when nearly all purchases are digital via all sorts of portals that refuse to give NPD access to their sales data? In 10 years you'll be able to use the NPD numbers to support some outrageous claim like "Video game sales are down 92% over the last 10 years."

Jason Lee
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Well a horribly inaccurate measure of success never stopped Television's Neilson Rating system.

Nooh Ha
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As Jay Anne says, they are estimates. However these estimates are based on surveys and so are reliant on the respondents providing highly detailed and accurate information about all of their historic purchases. They are also reliant on the use of the right methodology by NPD for grossing these sample figures up to represent national marke size data. There is an awful lot of guesswork that is going to go into all this as a result.

Bram Stolk
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I wonder what that is per gamer.
How many gamers are there in the US?

TC Weidner
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no matter how you spin it, an almost 10 decline is not good. Not good at all.

Robb Lewis
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Does this include the Virtual Currency sales from F2P games like World of Tanks?

Andrew Mayer
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That's clearly the important question here.

Is the actual market shrinking, or simply a segment of it?

Ed Magnin
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Only a small portion of our iPhone game sales are in the USD. A large portion of our sales are in over 20 other currencies from many more countries.

John Flush
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All I know is I track all my family expenses and "Video games" is one of the categories. I dropped 50% from 2011 to 2012. In 2011 I was around $1200 on video games. It is clear I'm not the only one that cut how much I throw at the industry.