A new and unsettling survey was released from the NPD Group
, and it's a survey that has some very disturbing implications for the gaming community in general. In that survey, the clear direction in gaming was going mobile...and there were fewer gamers out there in general.
The newest report from NPD Group suggests that there are 211.5 million gamers in the United States. Sounds great when you consider there may be about 300-odd million people total in the United States, but there's a problem. Turns out that number is down almost five percent from last year. Many of the segments that NPD tracks are down: core console gamers, light PC gamers, hardcore PC gamers--one segment in particular, family and kid gamers, lost fully 17 percent by itself--all lost ground. The only segments that gained ground were online games
and mobile games.
Naturally, there are several explanations for this. A stagnating but slightly improving economy, an unusually lengthy product life cycle
, the growing install base of mobile hardware like tablets and smartphones...all of these make perfect sense when added together. In fact, it's a reasonable bet that within two to three years, these numbers may well undergo another shift sufficient to render them all altered beyond recognition.
Still, though, given the rise in mobile gaming, and online gaming, it's safe to wonder. After all, there has been more than a little movement in the past toward getting gamers into online gaming, canceling disc-based distribution in favor of putting everything online. So a concerted, clear push by gamers moving online might well give game companies sufficient motivation to take all their games online in the first place. Yet some have cried foul with the way the NPD Group organized this report in the first place, putting family / kid gamers and casual gamers in their own blocks while separating most everyone else by the kind of hardware they're using to play games.
It's a strange report, make no mistake there, but it also represents some potentially very big changes in the way that the gaming business as a whole operates. And when that changes, well, the changes that follow will likely be sweeping and pronounced.