‘Digital’ Gamers Purchase More Than ‘Core’ Gamers – But What Does That Mean?

‘Digital’ Gamers Purchase More Than ‘Core’ Gamers – But What Does That Mean?
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Last week, I posted an editorial discussing the word ‘gamer‘ and what that word meant as gaming becomes increasingly ubiquitous. Now this report from the the NPD discusses how ‘Digital’ gamers are outspending ‘Core’ gamers in the marketplace. My question? What the hell is the difference between the two, and why are we bothering to distinguish?

“According to Gamer Segmentation 2011: The New Faces of Gamers, the latest report from leading market research company The NPD Group, Core Gamers, once considered to be the leading gaming segment within the video game industry, is facing rising competition from Digital Gamers for amount of time spent gaming and number of games acquired,” reads the press release.

“At 18 hours per week, Core Gamers still spend the most amount of time gaming, but Digital Gamers are heavy gamers as well, spending 16 hours per week. The average number of games acquired by Core Gamers in the past three months is 5.4 games, while Digital Gamers are the heaviest game acquirers, reporting an average of 5.9 games acquired for any system/device over the same time period.”

I literally don’t even know what this means.

What is a core gamer. What is a digital gamer. Why are they different? Why is this even important?

This is precisely what I meant when I spoke about the way we, as gamers, make ourselves way too easy to market to by buying into and affiliating ourselves with these completely meaningless distinctions between gamers.

Surely there is crossover. ‘Core’ gamers, if there is such a thing, buy digitally, and vice versa. Why the segregation?

I just don’t get it – am I wrong here? Am I losing my mind!?

NPD report: ‘Digital gamers’ encroaching on ‘Core gamer’ turf [Joystiq]


  • I think they mean Hardcore (COD, Battlefield, etc) vs Casual (Minecraft, XBLA, PSN, Angry Birds, etc)

    Ultimately, it goes back to what you said in your previous article, what’s the fraking point? We all play games, people enjoy certain genres. Myself, I hate sports and racing games, doesn’t make me any less of a gamer than those that do.

    • I do not mean to be rude, but XBL and PSN are names of networks – they themselves are not games.

      And you can get ports of serious games through them such as Beyond Good and Evil, Portal, etc.

      On top of that, the term casual has been redefined so many times I am surprised it is still even used.

      • I think hes referring to the casual/arcade nature of the XBLA and PSN games. And please dont come back with “But you can purchase full titles from those networks”. You know what Im referring to.

        • Warcroft, I am entitled to my opinion. So I am going to say “You can get full games from those networks.” Simply because one is able to do so.

          Also XBL is a communication network and video streaming service.

          Finally, no I do not know what games you are referring to. If you have problem games, in the very least name them.

          • And XBLA is the game distribution portion of XBL… do you have a point or are you just trolling?

          • “And XBLA is the game distribution portion of XBL”

            My bad – I was trying to get the post out before lunch break was over.

            “do you have a point or are you just trolling?”

            I believe I made it already – XBL is more than just casual gaming.

            In the large, my post was in response to warcroft’s comment, “And please dont come back with “But you can purchase full titles from those networks”. You know what Im referring to.”

            Given that I (and everyone else) am not a mind reader, I have no idea what Warcroft is on able thus if there are games (or services) he (or she) has issues with it would help if they are identified.

            Like how I did with the mention of Beyond Good and Evil and Portal to support my claim that XBL is not causal dominated.

  • Yeah, this makes no sense. I’d wager that a large proportion of ‘core’ PC gamers downloads from Steam regularly, making them also ‘digital’ gamers…

  • hmm well i must be a digital core gamer then, as i buy most games from online now and spen a good 16hrs a day playing games. Why because i can!

  • Rounding up… Six games every 3 mths, so 24 games per year, doesn’t seem alot really now days…

    I’d actually be surprised if I haven’t picked up 24 games already this year.

  • If anything I don’t think they’ve gone far enough. We should also distinguish between those who buy games from retail stores like Myer or Kmart, and those who purchase games from game stores like EB or Game. Perhaps retail gamers, and game-retail gamers would suffice. Why stop there though, when you can also have online-retail gamers, online-game-retail gamers, and even imported-online-game-retail gamers? It’s really quite logical.

    • I have compiled a list of every article ever mentioning gamers. I have an awesomely complex graph that I can’t show you today.

      But in summary, all these articles show there are apparently 3 types of mutually exlusive gamer categories:

      1. COD/Battlefield Gamers
      2. Angry Birds/Farmville Gamers
      3. Other Gamers

  • I think they mean retail vs digital. The fact is though, if you’re not a “dumbass gamer”, you buy from both to save as much money as you can, taking advantage of sales to have both physical and retail copies. Unlike COD gamers, who buy the same game every year at $110 retail.

  • Seriously whats with all this setting us up into categories?

    I buy games from both digital retail and non-digital simply because its what I want. Same reason why I might import a game or buy domestic because as the consumer its what I want and I generally could careless if its one way or another.

    Sometimes I can only get ______ game digitally or vise verse.

    this is making my head hurt just trying to talk about it

    • I think it is so us gamers can be easily fitted into market research reports.

      I personally describe myself as a casual gamer – a gamer that only plays occasionally when work allows.

      At the end of the day, a gamer is a gamer and a more appropriate way of breaking them up is just to work with the genre of games rather than a ever growing (and ever confusing) list of categories.

  • Must admit I’m more than likely to do a impulse purchase on Steam or pay for DLC in game. Window shopping for the digital age?

  • I think the frustration here is because we’re reading something that isn’t designed for our consumption. We are the consumers of video-games, whatever their distribution method, and we don’t need to make the distinctions outlined in this report.

    This type of report is designed for the Bobby Kotick’s of the world, publishers and business-people who aren’t games consumers but who instead require a generalised snapshot of the market so they can efficiently rape it to death.

  • I don’t get it either.
    But Mark, you are acting like it’s just us “gamers”
    This is nothing new. All through our history of society, people label themselves as some form of culture.
    Example: have you looked at the music scene recently? Have you seen how many genres, then sub-genres, then crossover genres, then crossover sub-genres there are these days? It’s an unavoidable thing in human society. Most people like to feel they “belong” somewhere.

    • Expanding on that, since work rudely interrupted me.
      Some people also like to feel “unique” and try to avoid being labelled something “mainstream” so come up with their own, unique label for themselves.

  • For me it solely comes down to price.
    I much prefer having a hard copy of my games, but when a digital version of the same game often comes in at half price, im sold.

  • I worked out I’ve spent $6440 on video games (and hardware) this generation. If publishers actually think I’m not as valuable a consumer as a casual gamer, then they can all go **** themselves.

  • From the article:

    digital gaming (i.e. “not retail” gaming)


    We turned to NPD’s David Riley, who explained that core gamers as defined by NPD are “very engaged across all systems, especially consoles” and have “higher use of Xbox 360 and PS3 than all other segments.” When it comes to digital purchases, core gamers are more likely to buy add-on content than full games.
    Digital gamers, on the other hand, “are engaged in a variety of gaming, from PC to mobile, console to portable, online and offline.” They also have the “highest number of digital games acquired” and particularly enjoy the immediacy of downloadable purchases.

    As well as:

    Still, it’s clear that there’s some crossover between demographics, something that seems to be recognized by NPD itself.


    It seems to be this was a poorly done survey seeking to distinguish between people who buy games from brick and mortar stores with people who buy their games online (and naming them as the very confusing ‘core’ and ‘digital).
    I think this may have been an attempt to delineate the difference between units sold in physical boxes vs downloadable games (maybe to highlight which is more popular, especially given the price disparity we are seeing on some steam games in aus vs retail boxed copies [even though the survey was done in the states]).

    All it really does is highlight the obvious – people are buying more digital copies of games. Why? Convenience and cheap sales are the first two that come to mind.

    With the information from the survey press release I think we’d need the full survey to understand WTH they are going on about. What constitutes an ‘avid’ or ‘light’ PC gamer?

  • So I delved into NPD’s site and came up with this:

    The new Gamer Segmentation Report – now revised for 2011 – groups U.S. gaming consumers into segments based on attitudes, behavior, usage, and purchase patterns

    This year’s report provides an in-depth understanding of the following gamer segments:
    Avid PC, Core, Digital, Family & Kid, Light PC, and Mobile.

    I filled in the form and got the first 7 pages of their gamer segmentation report which classifies gamers into the 6 categories above (see page 5).

    So now I can figure out where everyone I know fits… I have a deep seated need to label people.

  • A digital gamer is someone who plays games with their fingers – Finger Sniper (pyew pyew) being my personal favourite. Why anyone would pay for this though is beyond me.

  • This is pretty much akin to Arthouse film vs Transformers 4.
    There are always going to be two forms of a specific type of media: “Mainstream” and “Alternative”.
    Movie go-ers don’t necessarily watch one type of movie or the other, but it’s a lot more helpful for marketing purposes if we are able to define a products audience.

    Because videogames are finally coming of age, we are now having to deal with this.

  • No, Mark, you’re not losing your mind but you are one of the most absent minded writers on the planet. You should pursue another career. Perhaps McDonalds is hiring.

  • Reports like these are written for poor, soulless folk who actually believe in things like “networking” and “synergy”. They often attempt to destroy the minds of people who actually work for a living, during what’s commonly known as a “team building day”. Please beware anyone who presents you butchers paper, colored pens, or a book called ‘Who Moved My Cheese?’ In their spare time they categorise gamers… And eat kittens. Probably.

  • I have been very vocal in my support for an R18+ category of games media here in Australia, and have no problem with that resulting in kids being unable to buy R18+ games. Just like kids have no legal right to purchase alcohol, tobacco, automobiles, or fire arms.

    Do we see a lot of gun shakin, drunk and smoking kids driving automobiles all over the streets wherever we go? No? then I guess an R18+ rating for games will work just fine.

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