NPD: 72 percent of US are gamers

Industry-tracking group's annual survey finds 8 percent surge in number of respondents who play games; number of online gamers creeps up less significantly.

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[UPDATE 4/3] The NPD Group has since clarified some of the numbers issued in the following report, most notably saying that the 72 percent figure given only applies to the 6-44 age group, and that for all Americans age 2 and older, the actual number is 59 percent. [END UPDATE]

There's no shortage of anecdotal evidence that the recent casual gaming trend has brought new gamers into the fold, but the NPD Group today has added something empirical to back up conventional wisdom. As part of its Online Gaming 2008 report, the industry-tracking group found that 72 percent of respondents to a US survey reported playing games in some form, up from 64 percent the year before.

The report also found that online gaming was on the rise, although not quite as drastically. The NPD Group found that 42 percent of respondents play online games, up a more modest 2 percent from 40 percent the year before.

Among online gamers, 90 percent play on the PC, with 19 percent taking consoles online, and 3 percent using cell phones. The Xbox 360 was the most popular choice among online console gamers, with 50 percent of that group taking advantage of Microsoft's Xbox Live service. The Xbox 360 also showed the highest average amount of time played online among platforms, followed by the PC and PlayStation 3.

"Despite the buzz in the industry regarding online gaming, it is still relatively small compared to offline gaming," NPD analyst Anita Frazier said in a statement. "There is still a large, untapped market for gaming in general and online gaming in particular."

The survey also yielded a number of other findings. The NPD Group's findings showed that about half of online gamers are 25 or older. The group said 40 percent of online gamers are under 18, while the 18-24 age group holds only 10 percent of online gamers. Finally, the survey found ownership of multiple current-generation consoles is rare, with only 3 percent of respondents saying they owned two of the three major home systems, and 2 percent claiming to have all three.

The NPD Group collected its data from a survey of 20,240 NPD Consumer Panel members conducted from January 11 to February 5.

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