The NPD Group reported in the “Gamer Segmentation 2012: The New Faces of Gamers” study that there are 211.5 million gamers in the U.S, a 5 percent decline (close to 12 million gamers) when compared to 2011. Of the six gamer segments in the report, only Mobile Gamers and Digital Gamers saw increases in the number of gamers when compared to 2011, with Mobile Gamers up 9 percentage points to 22 percent and Digital Gamers up 4 percentage points to 16 percent, compared to Core Gamers, Family+Kid Gamers, Light PC Gamers, and Avid PC Gamers that were all down over 2011.

“Given the long lifecycles of the current consoles and the increasing installed base of smartphones and tablets, it’s not surprising to see a slight decline in the Core Gamer segment,” said Anita Frazier, industry analyst, The NPD Group. “It’s the revenue contribution of the Core Gamer segment that continues to outpace all other segments, and remains vital to the future of the industry.”

Game purchasers reported spending an average of $48 on physical games and $16 on digital games-PC/console/portable in the past three months, while Core Gamers spent $65 on physical games over the same time period; this is more than any other gamer segment. Close to 14 percent of total gamers report that they purchased microtransactions/additional game content in the past three months compared to 11 percent during the same time period in 2011 – Core Gamers and Digital Gamers are the largest consumers of these types of purchases at 27 percent and 23 percent, respectively.

Mobile Gamers are now the largest gamer segment, edging out Core Gamers, which was the largest segment in 2011. “While this study segments the gaming audience based on a number of key variables and attributes, looking across the total gaming audience we see a tremendous impact from mobile gaming, particularly on smartphones and tablets,” said Frazier. “Because of this, our next study, which will be released later this month, takes a deeper look into the area of mobile gaming.”