hardcore gamers

As mobile developers continue to discover new ways to exploit the casual market, core gamers continue to buy a lot of games — just not as many as before.

The NPD Group released a preliminary look at its latest report, which focuses on core gamers. Nearly 38 million people in the U.S. qualify as core gamers, which the study defines as someone who plays a non-social/casual game for more than five hours a week on a PlayStation 3, Xbox 360, PC, or Mac.

According to the study, 10 percent more core gamers claim their spending decreased versus a year ago compared to gamers stating their spending increased. That fits with recent NPD monthly sales reports, which have shown a steady decline year-over-year for months.

Sony recently announced the PlayStation 4, and many gamers slow or stop spending to save up for the new device.

Still, core gamers are buying games. A huge chunk (88 percent) of the core crowd stated that they purchased a new physical game this year. Meanwhile, 78 percent purchased a used physical game and 70 percent bought a full digital release.

“Digital purchasing among core gamers has plenty of room to grow,” The NPD Group industry analyst Liam Callahan said in a statement. “While many core gamers indicate they are purchasing full games and digital add-on content frequently, there are those that stated they have never purchased digital content.”

That number should spike up in the next generation as customers grow more accustomed to digital sales in the next-generation of consoles.

NPD conducted this study online from Jan. 4 to Jan. 23. It surveyed 6,322 individuals age 9 and older.