NPD Report Finds 37% of Americans Play PC Games

Americans are increasingly becoming gamers, with the average gamer being 38 years old with an average annual household income of $69K.

The marketing research firm, The NPD Group, recently put out a report claiming that 37% of the U.S. population 9 years and older currently plays PC games. The report, titled "Understanding PC Gaming: 2014", categorized the gamers as Heavy Core, Light Core, and Casual.

Core Gamers Vs. Casual Gamers

The Heavy Core and Light Core gamers generally played the same types of games including Action/Adventure, Fighting, Flight, MMO, RTS, RPG, Shooters and/or sports game on a PC/Mac, however, the key distinction between the two groups was the number of hours played. (5+ hours per week for Heavy Core and less than 5 hours per week for Light Core) The Casual gamers were defined as gamers that played anything but Core games.

It was no surprise that the Casual gaming group was the largest at 56%, with Light Core and Heavy Core coming in at 24% and 20%, respectively. Also, of no surprise, while Heavy Core may be the smallest group, they spent signficantly more time and money on both physical and digital games, compared to the Casual gamers.

Other interesting statistics included that the average age of PC gamers was 38 years, with the average annual household income of $69K. In terms of gender, it was fairly equal, with men representing 51%, and women representing 49%, however, across the different segments, Heavy Core and Light Core were comprised mainly of men, while Casual was predominantly women.

PC Gamers Wait for Bargains

Another interesting fact found through the study was that consumers of PC games were willing to wait for a bargain. Liam Callahan, an industry analyst for The NPD Group remarked, "Consumers' expectations may be the greatest barrier to maximizing spending in the PC gaming space... Since half of PC gamers who play digital and/or physical games on the computer are expecting there to always be a sale right around the corner, publsihers and retailers alike need to better manage these expectations."

What is the Definition of a Gamer?

Although I am older than the average PC gamer, I am not that much older... I grew up with an Atari 2600 in the house, and remember when I was even younger, I was salivating over a Fairchild Channel F that my next door neighbor had at home. While games were considered something for kids back in the 70s and 80s, I guess we all grew up with them, and they are now a big part of our lives.

Many of my friends claim not to be "gamers", yet I am always receiving requests from them on Facebook for Candy Crush. Somehow, our society still deems it taboo to be a gamer. 

I think it is great that Americans are now embracing video games more than before, even if they don't see themselves as gamers. I remember attending a session at GDC years ago where the presenter mentioned that the American view of a "gamer" as a 30-something year old man, living in the basement of his parents' home, doing nothing but playing games, however, he also said that finding such a person was very difficult. Maybe it's time that we all start thinking of a new term to define a gamer that doesn't conjur up such a derogatory image.


Published Sep. 10th 2014
View Comments
  • mchiu
    You're probably pretty close to the actual numbers, Rothlack. Like all marketing research firms, they have those numbers in the actual report, which you will have to pay for. :)
  • Rothalack
    Master O' Bugs
    I'm going to guess that for the "Heavy Core" and "Light Core" gamers, the percentage would be somewhere around 75% male, maybe even more. Then I'm guessing that the "Casual" group is about 75% female, maybe even more. I wish they would have released the actual numbers on that.

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