The NPD Group today released the findings of its Online Gaming 2013 report, revealing 72 percent of gamers in the United States play online. This is an increase of 5 percent over 2012.
The report also found an increase in the number of hours spent playing games across devices surveyed, which led to an overall increase in the number of hours played per week, up 9 percent for gaming overall and up 6 percent for online gaming.
"Besides the size of the gaming audience and sales performance, one of the key metrics for the industry to watch is the time gamers spend playing games," said NPD Group analyst Liam Callahan in a statement. "This study found that the overall amount of time spent gaming, and time spent gaming online increased across virtually every type of device, and notably so, versus 2012."
The PC ranks as the top platform for online gaming, with 68 percent of US gamers saying they play online through their computers. This figure is down 4 percent year-over-year. Online gaming through mobile devices, however, is growing. The study found mobile devices saw a 12 percent increase in online gaming year-over-year.
In terms of buying behavior, it would seem logical that online gamers would prefer digital content over physical content, but this was not the case, according to the report. Asked if players would prefer purchasing a game in physical format or digital format, where pricing and availability were consistent, 62 percent chose the physical format.
"While many gamers prefer games in the physical format, the increased availability of digital content paired with a greater amount of connected devices has driven an increase in the number of consumers going online to access the content they want," Callahan said.
The Online Gaming 2013 report was conducted through an online survey fielded from February 15 through March 4. The survey was completed by 8,867 individuals ages 2 and older.
Online gaming has been a focal point of discussion for next-generation consoles. Both the PlayStation 4 and next Xbox are believed to be Internet-focused, while Microsoft's platform is rumored to require an Internet connection to function at all.
Separately, Nintendo announced last week that 80 percent of all Wii Us worldwide are connected to the Internet.