NPD: Nearly Half Heavy Gamers Ages 6 to 17

A bit of conventional wisdom in the video game industry is that serious gamers—you know, the players who really get into mastering complex immersive games, devote themselves to online play and tournaments, invest in peripherals and strategy guides, tweak their systems—are generally males between the ages of 18 and 34. And maybe smell a little ripe.

A new survey from the NPD Group seems to belay that impression. Surveying more than 16,000 respondents aged six to 44 in an online consumer survey, NPD found that some 45 percent of “Heavy Gamers” are actually between 6 and 17 years of age—and that 21 pecent of them are female. Further, nearly one-third of Avid Console Gamers (the largest overall segment of the NPD study) are between the ages of 6 and 17.

“Heavy gamers can be critical to a title or retailer’s success since they are the market leaders, but focusing on this segment entirely is ignoring a much broader consumer base and larger revenue potential,” said Anita Frazier, NPD’s entertainment industry analyst.

The NPD report breaks gamers down into six main categories—Heavy gamers, Avid Console Gamers, Mass Market Gamers, Prefer Portable Gamers, Secondary Gamers, and Infrequent Gamers. Also contrary to popular assumption, the study finds that the Heavy Gamer category makes up just 3 percent of the total game-playing population. Other surprises in the NPD study: the Prefer Portable Gamer segment may skew older than thought: while the majority of those gamers are under age 18, fully one third are aged 18 to 44 years.

NPDs sample may be somewhat skewed in that it only surveyed online consumers in a limited age range who currently own portable and console systems (and who, presumably, read English), but it may point to broader trends in the video game market as the industry and gaming population continues to diversify. it’d be great to see NPD expand the age range of its survey and include folks who don’t necessarily own portable or console systems—after all, all those grandparents playing Brain Age on their DS Lites shouldn’t be discounted!

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