There are 174 million gamers in the U.S. who play games on PCs and video game consoles, says the NPD group in a recent report titled "Games Segmentation 2008."
The report analyzes seven gamer segments, defined by console ownership, usage, and frequency, seeking to help the industry better understand video game sales, ownership, and usage patterns within these segments.
Of the 174 million gamers in the U.S., 3 percent are classified as "Extreme Gamers," 9 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.
With over 38 million gamers in its segment, Young Heavy Gamers makes up the largest gaming group in the U.S. While Extreme Gamers show a preference for PlayStation 3 and Xbox 360 games, Young Heavy Gamers favor portable systems, with six out of every ten Nintendo DS and PSP owners consisting of Young Heavy Gamers. Young Heavy Gamers make up at least one-third of any system's owners.
The study also shows that among next-generation console owners, PlayStation 3 owners are most likely to own other next-generation consoles. Also, only 10% of PlayStation 2 owners also own a PlayStation 3.
Despite being the smallest group, Extreme Gamers lead all segments in purchasing power, buying approximately 24 titles across all their systems in three months (October - December 2007), over seven times more than the second leading purchasing segment, Console Gamers, who on average purchased only 3.2 games during the same period.
According to the report, Extreme Gamers spent an average of 22.3 hours per week playing video games, while Console Gamers, the second highest segment, spent an average 8.2 hours per week.
NPD analyst Anita Frazier cautioned, "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. In order to promote continued growth, we must better understand all of the gaming segments."
The study goes on to note the rising popularity of digital purchases, with digital downloads making up approximately 14% of the games purchased in the surveyed three months. Predictably, Avid PC Gamers had the highest incidence with 27% of their purchases being digital. Over half of Extreme Gamers and over a third of Avid PC Gamers claimed that they would definitely download a feature to enhance a specific game they own.