According to Online Gaming 2012, the latest report from leading market research company, The NPD Group, 67 percent of all gamers reported acquiring at least one game in either a physical or digital format in the past three months (ending March 2012), which includes free or paid games; a figure that rose to 75 percent when looking specifically at online gamers, defined as those who personally play games online on at least one system or device. Among all gamers, 40 percent reported obtaining at least one game in both the physical and digital formats.
The total population of gamers reported acquiring an average of eight games, with those acquiring only digital games reporting an average of six games compared to three for those acquiring only physical games. Those that acquired games in both physical and digital formats reported the highest number of games acquired overall at 15, including free or paid games.
"Gamers are growing more comfortable in acquiring content online, as we saw the preference for digital increase ten 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."
Though most online gamers say that the other entertainment features on their console/portable device do not distract them from gaming, there has been a slight increase relative to 2011 for those who say it does cause them to spend less time gaming (+3 percentage points). Similarly, there is a slight increase in those saying they are spending less money on gaming due to the entertainment features available. Over one-in-five online gamers state 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."
Data was collected via an online survey from March 2, 2012 - March 23, 2012. The survey was completed by 8,488 individuals ages 2 and older. In cases where surrogate reporting was used, mothers were asked to bring the child to the computer to answer survey questions, either with or without assistance. In order to qualify as a gamer, respondents had to report that they currently, personally play video games on at least one device measured in the report. Non-gamers are included only in game acquisition questions in order to capture game purchases for others. Final survey data was weighted to represent the U.S. population of individuals age 2 to 99.
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