The NPD Group recently published its Understanding PC Gaming: 2014 report. The report suggests the continuous waves of sales and discounts available for PC games means many wait for sales before purchasing any PC game title at all. The availability of these sales and deep discounts is good for players right now but there are worries the lack of full-price sales could stifle the industry. Another of the key findings of the report is that 37 per cent of the US population aged over 9 years old could be classified as PC gamers, spending an average of 6.4 hours per week on the activity.
Heavy Core, Light Core, and Casual PC gamers
NPD divides PC gamers into three distinct segments; Heavy Core, Light Core, and Casual PC gamers. To be a Heavy Core gamer you will be spending five or more hours per week playing what the researchers call 'core games' which include Action/Adventure, Fighting, Flight, Massively Multi-Player (MMO), Racing, Real Time Strategy, Role-Playing, Shooter, or Sport games. These individuals make up just 20 per cent of PC gamers.
A 'core' gamer, probably heavy
Light Core gamers play the same 'core games' as the Heavy Core but do so for under 5 hours per week and make up 24 per cent of PC gamers. Finally Casual PC gamers make up the biggest market segment but only play 'non core' games. The NPD hasn't given any figures for how long Causal PC gamers play per week.
Comparing these three groups the researchers say that the Heavy Core has spent about twice as much as the Casual PC gamers over the preceding quarter. "Heavy Core and Light Core are comprised mainly of men while Casual PC gamers are overwhelmingly female," according to NPD. However there are many female Casual PC gamers so the total ratio of PC gamers is 51:49 men to women. Overall the PC gamer is said to have an average age of 38 and be part of a household with average income of $69,000.
Waiting for the sales
A key finding of the NPD report is that "half of all PC gamers have grown accustomed to waiting for a sale before making a purchase". As you might expect, and is probably fair, digital download games buyers are far less likely to pay full price for a game. The NPD report says that the consumer expectations of "a sale right around the corner" could be damaging for the PC games industry as spending isn't as high as it could be. The key, going forward, is to "better manage these expectations" said an NPD Group analyst.
The NPD Understanding PC Gaming: 2014 report was based upon a June 2014 survey of 6225 individuals aged 9 and older, with 2312 qualifying as PC gamers.