Video game sales at retail stores have been sinking this year. But 67 percent of all gamers have reported buying at least one game in either a physical or digital form in the past three months, according to market researcher NPD Group.
That means gamers are actively playing, despite the weak sales in one segment of gaming. About 75 percent of online gamers say they have acquired either free or paid games in the last three months. Among all gamers, 40 percent said they obtained a game in both the physical and digital formats.
All gamers reported acquiring an average of eight games, with those acquiring only digital games reporting an average of six. Those who acquired only physical games reported an average of three. Those that acquired both physical and digital games reported an average of 15 free or paid games.
“Gamers are growing more comfortable in acquiring content online, as we saw the preference for digital increase 10 percentage points from last year,” said Liam Callahan, industry analyst, The NPD Group. “The proliferation of free games on mobile devices has reduced the barrier of entry for online gaming to zero, fueling an increase in acquisition.”
Most online gamers say the non-gaming entertainment features on their console or portable device do not distract them from gaming. But a slight increase (3 percentage points) of people said they play fewer games as a result of having those other entertainment features. One in five online gamers said that other household members are using their systems for other entertainment activities, also up 3 percentage points from 2011.
“Every year at E3, we hear about new non-gaming features being added to major console and portable device manufacturers’ online services,” said Callahan. “It is reasonable to expect changes in the share of time and spend as consumers become aware and increasingly comfortable with the number of features, including gaming, available through their multifunctional devices.”
NPD collected data via an online survey from March 2 to March 23, 2012. 8,488 people ages 2 and up completed the survey (mothers were asked to talk about their children playing games).
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