A new report from research firm NPD Group claims the gamer population in the United States totaled 211.5 million in 2012, a 5 percent decline compared to last year. According to the latest available Census data, the total U.S. population stands at over 314 million.
The news comes from the firm's Gamer Segmentation 2012: The New Faces of Gamers report, which also revealed that the size of major gamer segments are changing, with mobile gamers in 2012 surpassing core gamers, which represented the largest segment in 2011.
According to analyst Anita Frazier, this is hardly surprising, given the protracted current generation of consoles and the rise of new platforms.
The report found that of the six gamer segments included in the findings, only mobile gamers (up 9 percentage points to 22 percent) and digital gamers (up 4 percentage points to 16 percent) increased year over year. The four other segments, which include core gamers, family and kid gamers, light PC gamers, and avid PC gamers, fell. The most precipitous decline came in the family and kid gamer segment, which lost 17.4 million gamers since last year.
An NPD representative explained to GameSpot that a person can belong only to one group. Additionally, the rep confirmed that a "digital gamer" is one that is "engaged in a variety of gaming, from PC to mobile, console to portable, online and offline."
The report also tracked money spent, finding that those who purchased games in the past three months spent an average of $48 on physical games and $16 on digital games (PC, console, and portable). Core gamers were the most readily willing to spend money, as this segment spent $65 on physical games over those three months, more than any other segment, the firm found.
Concerning money spent on microtransactions and additional digital game content, the report found that nearly 14 percent of total gamers made these purchases over the past three months, up from 11 percent in 2011. Core gamers and digital gamers made up the biggest contingent of spenders for microtransactions and add-on content, contributing 27 percent and 23 percent of sales, respectively.
The Gamer Segmentation 2012: The New Faces of Gamers report was based on 8,488 completed surveys, dispatched in March 2012 to members of NPD's online panel.