US gamer population: 170 million - NPD

Industry research group's segmentation finds over half of all Americans play games; "Console Gamers" top 32.9 million, so-called "Extreme Gamers" clock nearly 40 hours a week.


For decades, baseball has been called "the American pastime." However, a new report from the NPD Group indicates that a majority of American citizens currently indulge in one common leisure activity--playing games.

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NPD's just-released 2009 Gamer Segmentation Report dissects the US gaming market in depth, drawing on responses from nearly 21,000 people taken during a January survey. Using statistical sampling, the study estimates the domestic number of gamers increased by 4.3 million in 2008, going from 165.5 million to 169.9 million. According to the most recent estimate from the Census Bureau, the US population was just over 304 million in July--meaning around 55 percent of Americans play games in one form or another.

The research firm went on to break down the US gaming population into seven groups, four of which use both PC and non-PC platforms. The biggest group makes up what NPD calls "Secondary Gamers" (33.6 million), mostly female gamers who play less than four hours a week and don't own a console. The fastest-growing segment was the mostly male "Console Gamers" (32.9 million), who own at least one or two dedicated gaming machines and play around 12 hours per week. Next up is the shrinking "Heavy Portable Gamers" group (30.0 million), who own at least one portable and are the youngest group, with an average age of 19. The smallest section is the so-called "Extreme Gamers," whose gaming habit takes up nearly as much time as a 40-hour work week.

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Though it does not lump them into a single category, NPD estimates that some 67.3 million Americans use the PC as their primary gaming platform. Up slightly at 25.9 million were "Online PC Gamers," a mostly female group who spent 73 percent of their eight hours of weekly game time online. The country's 17.3 million "Avid PC Gamers" were the most hardcore PC segment, playing 23 hours a week. Finally, "Offline PC Gamers," totaling 24.1 million, were the polar opposite of their online cousins, spending 82 percent of their time playing unconnected to the Internet.

Those wishing to purchased NPD's 2009 Gamer Segmentation Report can find out how on the company's official Web site.

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Avatar image for mgs16925

If games are mainstream it just means they aren't exclusively geeky anymore; it doesn't mean the majority of people are geeks. There's still a big difference between someone who plays games and a Gamer. Consider that if your grandmother plays flash games a few hours a week ("does not own a console"), she would be counted in this number. BTW, why the random time percentages? Why is it 73% online to count as 'mostly online' but 82% off for 'mostly offline'?

Avatar image for deactivated-57fce817a4cf5

@yman173 - It's not that people don't look at gamers as geeks anymore. It is just that now there are 170 million of them in the US alone, so being a geek is now the norm. And those who looked at us from a "negative angle" can think what they like but they will never be free in the way that we are. After all, we are proud to do absolutely anything we choose whereas those people are restricted in life by their own fear of social acceptance. I pity them and am proud to be a geek.

Avatar image for yman173

Its about time gamers were considered a part of the mainstream. Used to be that anyone who gamed more than 10 hours a week was a "geek" and looked at in some negative angle. Its obvious that everyone's doing it now, so us 40+ hour a week gamers FTW! :)

Avatar image for xdude85

Now that's a lot of gamers.

Avatar image for Megavideogamer

I'm a "Standard" Console gamer, 15 hours a week.

Avatar image for Somini

I'm both proud and ashamed of being one of those +40hrs/week gamers, depending on who asks, lol... Too bad that it's so hard to earn a salary on this "job".

Avatar image for swamptick

I sell games for a living running multiple locations. There are more gamers now. No doubt. That is a good thing.

Avatar image for LithuanianGamer

Female gamers are sexy

Avatar image for Ohaidere

How much of that counted stupid flash games via myspace and facebook?

Avatar image for MechaRPG

I play at least or more than 84 hours per week thats 12 hours per day, im an extreme gamer to the limit... sadly i don't have a trophy from any gaming tournaments

Avatar image for starduke

I'm an Avid Extreme Offline PC, Console and Heavy Portable Gamer, aka a Super Gamer!

Avatar image for jadefury27

As a father of one, and a gamer since atari 2600, i manage about 16-20 hrs a week of gaming. i'd classify myself as slightly hardcore.

Avatar image for jadefury27

a person who only plays chuzzle on yahoo games at work is not a gamer. a person familiar who can name games by kojima, iga, and cliffy b. would most likely be. this is not an accurate study by any strech. anyone who sinks at least $50-$100 per month can be classified as a gamer.

Avatar image for wahyudil

what they call for people who sometimes play less than 6 hours a week, but in the other day they can play to 40 hours a week?

Avatar image for deactivated-5d1cb98d088e5

Can we really call a lot of these people gamers, no not really, hours spent playing dose not make you a better gamer, it's what you know. I have an uncle who has a wife and two kids and not much time to game, but he has a great knowledge of the gaming industry. As compared to a friend of mine who plays all the time, and wouldn't know a good game if it came up and smacked him on the forehead. As for me I play quite a bit, but I know one thin no matter how much I play, I will always be a hardcore gamer.

Avatar image for skeeterbutt

I'll be 60 years old in October this year, and have been PC gaming since 1989. I am retired and I game more than I watch TV. I thoroughly enjoy gaming and put in many hours a day. From what I hear it is good for coordination; eyesight; reflexes and mental stamina. It's a very entertaining escape from boredom and mindless Television viewing

Avatar image for mestguy321

@pwn123 Posted Aug 3, 2009 3:15 am PT "anyone who plays more than 15 hours a week has a problem. hell, i play 6 hours a week on ps3 and thats enough for me. i mean how bored do you have to be to just play wow all night. its kinda sad." I detect jealousy from someone with no job who can't pay to play...oh well.

Avatar image for joynul

women online pc gamers? they should ban hannah montana online lol

Avatar image for pwn123

"Up slightly at 25.9 million were "Online PC Gamers," a mostly female group who spent 73 percent of their eight hours of weekly game time online." They must be talking about those losers on second life. FAIL.

Avatar image for pwn123

anyone who plays more than 15 hours a week has a problem. hell, i play 6 hours a week on ps3 and thats enough for me. i mean how bored do you have to be to just play wow all night. its kinda sad.

Avatar image for weezyfb


Avatar image for andrew_ribbons

Unequivical proof that game developers need to concentrate on PCs again with adequate marketing, to generate decent return on their projects. I own a 360, but i only buy a game new if it's something i'm desperate to own, such as i did with Fable 2, Halo 3 and Mass Effect. Others i buy once discounted. With PC i always buy new, because they are only ever at most £30 each, more commonly £25 these days, whereas console games tend to be around £40.

Avatar image for unknown2007

depending on my interest level within the video game. i usually clock in about 10 hours 5 days a week..weekends i steady so there's not much gaming after friday...but considering most games take 2 straight days to beat anyway. my gaming schedule isn't set that high...especially nowadays with the limited selection of suck ass games. with the exception of prototype which is pretty awesome. among some other RPG's i have already finished.

Avatar image for Jettero-Heller

@d3emondav3 Heh heh. Well I always thought it was a little excessive myself but I was being a little sarcastic towards the arcticle. As in "Hardcore" not as cool as "EXTREEEME" seeing as how 40+ hrs is the new "Hardcore" =0 Not really THAT much when you consider roughly 5 hrs a day X 7 days = about 30 - 35 a week.

Avatar image for d3emondav3

@Jettero-Heller Wow man, 30 + hours a week! You need help if you don't think you're hardcore.

Avatar image for Jettero-Heller

I keep it to a realistic +/-30 hours a week so I'm not hardcore enough to be "EXTREME". Except for Oblivion. That freaking game cost me my last job.

Avatar image for punkpunker

if i play solitare, does that count as a gamer???

Avatar image for d3emondav3

I think 5-8 hours in a week is more than enough. But in the summer, I usually let all hell break loose on my gaming schedule :)

Avatar image for Xcite79

The more mainstream gaming is then the more games are safe under the constitution.

Avatar image for okassar

=o That's more than half the U.S population. I would really like for those numbers to be accurate,but I don't know...maybe the consider anyone who even buys 1 game to be a gamer.

Avatar image for Mister__Awesome

Video games have been a part of my life since i was a kid, and the way my parents taught me to balance it has made me a great gamer, hopefully this goes for all my other gamers out there as well.

Avatar image for lanmanna

Looks like I'm a console gamer.

Avatar image for maverick_76

I usually get 10-20 per week during the Summer, 5-10 during the school year. Some days though I can play for like 5-8 hours if the game is really fun but those are very few and far between.

Avatar image for shootingrobot98

I just play video games for the experience, so therefore I usually don't play more than 8 hours a week. But then again, just about everybody I know plays video games. Even so, 170 million?! That's almost half the total population of the U.S.!

Avatar image for Jack-Du-Ripper

@tomtomwolfwolf its a survey, pirates are included. this is players not purchasers

Avatar image for Dante2710

im surprised, i though the pc gaming user-base would be smaller than that in the US :shock:

Avatar image for checampbell

there's no link between obesity and hard-core 40 hours+ you aint got time to eat !

Avatar image for GoldenRamoth

mrklorox.. I don't think they just mean actual games, like bioshock, or age of empires. I think they're referring to facebook and other flashgames and whatnot. I know most of my girl friends like to play them, as well as my mom and sister. they spend a ton of time playing them.

Avatar image for mrklorox

"Up slightly at 25.9 million were "Online PC Gamers," a mostly female group who spent 73 percent of their eight hours of weekly game time online." Wow... This should be proof that people don't answer these surveys honestly. Well, either that or the titles for the groups are way off.

Avatar image for CRS98

I fit somewhere between "Console" and "Extreme" gamer. If I were to have online, like I used to, that would be pushed dedicatedly to "Extreme".

Avatar image for Lightsyde

Most surveys are made up on the spot. 40hrs a week? When I'm so ill I can't play for long, maybe.

Avatar image for cockneyscouse

Pft. 40 hours a week, I can do that in a day :D

Avatar image for topsemag55

I love games and gaming. It takes stress away.

Avatar image for godzillavskong

What do the 40hr a week gamers do in their downtime? Play games?

Avatar image for Jackc8

Sounds like they're counting every old foggie who played a single game of solitaire on their PC as a "gamer" lol.

Avatar image for TheHunt3D

40+ hours is not that unusual, I know someone who clocks up 50+ hours in Half-Life 2 deathmatch alone! Don't know we she get all that time though. :P

Avatar image for Vkain

@HollowDarkstar, a no life group, hahahaha made me laugh. I think those are the extreme gamers.

Avatar image for lancerhawk

good too know. it still "feels" like gamers are still a minority. damn jocks.

Avatar image for 24k_Solid_Gold

pogswarts - "I would like to know how they got all of this information." ...they got it through a survey...that's what they just said.

Avatar image for pogswarts

40+ a week is a little crazy since I played like less than 20 in two weeks. I would like to know how they got all of this information.