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Number of U.S. gamers more than doubled since 2008, study finds
Number of U.S. gamers more than doubled since 2008, study finds
February 7, 2012 | By Tom Curtis

According to a new report [PDF] from analyst firm Parks Associates, there are now 135 million people in the United States playing games for at least an hour per month, more than double the 56 million gamers reported in 2008.

Most of these new gamers, the firm says, have been attracted by the free to play and social markets, which have captured new audiences on the web, smartphones, and other emerging platforms.

In the mobile space, specifically, Parks Associates reports that roughly 18 percent of all U.S. gamers download games through their phones, up from 7 percent in 2008.

Games are even more popular for tablet owners, as 71 percent of adult owners and 79 percent of teen owners admitted to playing games on their device at least one hour per month.

Outside of the mobile space, roughly 80 percent of U.S. gamers play either free-to-play online games or Facebook games -- a considerable number, considering these markets only hit their stride within the last few years.

In addition, Parks Associates detailed spending habits for the free to play and online markets, noting that gamers who buy virtual goods via Facebook games spend about $29 per month on average, while those who purchase items in other free to play games spend roughly $21 per month.

Last year, the firm issued a similar report, saying that the number of gamers in older demographics has more than doubled since 2007, thanks in large part to games such as Angry Birds, Fruit Ninja, and Words with Friends.

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Daniel Martinez
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Are they really playing games though? There is some debate as to whether free-to-play and mobile games are games at all, at least in the classical sense. I'm oldshool, so I'm just wondering how many of these new gamers play WoW, GoW, MW3, Skyrim, Super Meat Boy, and so on. Just a thought.

Winston Chang
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Would you be referring to specifically Facebook games/apps as "free-to-play" or are you also lumping in DDO, LotRO, MTG:T, DCUO, TF2 and parts of RIFT, WoW, WHO as not games in the classical sense?

Am I the only one who can see this becoming the same discussion of Hardcore vs Casual?

Amir Sharar
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I'm real old skool, so I consider them games. Really, it's much like the arcade boom in the late 70s to early 80s where simple to play games like Galaxian and PacMan ruled the day. There really isn't any point of contention here when you keep that in mind.

It truly seems like there's never been a better time to be in this industry. Even for niche games, the audience is large enough to make a living (with a responsible business model of course). People now game on the go, and in the home. There are so many avenues one could take to hit an audience, and platforms of all varieties have been widely adopted.