New Study Offers Insight into PC Gamers

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PC gamers are often a passionate sort, fully enthused about their gaming rig’s technical prowess and extensive game library. While not as commercialized or as heavily marketed as console games, the PC gaming industry continues to thrive, maintaining a significant lead ahead of consoles in terms of sales numbers.

One major reason is convenience. “The big difference is that consoles are now the luxury item and PCs are the necessity,” explains DFC Intelligence owner David Cole. “Just a few years ago the reverse was true.” Plus, the emergence of e-sports with PC games like League of Legends and DotA 2 has provided PC gamers with a renewed sense of community, in addition to plenty of financial benefits.

Since PC gaming culture continues to thrive and is so uniquely different than its console gaming counterpart, it’s worth wondering who exactly represents the PC gamer demographic. With the help ofa new study, the NPD Group found out.

37% of the U.S. Are PC Gamers

The NPD Group’s research found that, of U.S. citizens ages nine and up, 37% of them play PC games. That certainly shows PC gaming is widespread, but who’s playing, exactly? And how much are they playing each week? Just enough to pass the time, or so much that they could suffer a spinal injury from sitting too much?

The study’s participants were split into three segments based on their frequency of PC gaming: heavy core (5+ hours of gaming per week), light core (less than five hours per week) and casual (people who primarily play online or social games).

The study found that 56% of the PC gamer population is in the casual gamer group, which is essentially the group that plays games on social media like Farmville or even a pop-up pinball java game. Essentially, these aren’t the users on Steam downloading hot new indie games. Those are more the light core, which represents 24% of PC gamers, in addition to the heavy core, which represent 20%. Although they were the smallest group, heavy core PC gamers spent twice as much money as casual gamers in the past three months on PC games.

Gender Separation? Not Much at All

There’s a common misconception that the gaming industry is dominated by males. The research from The NPD Group shows that female PC gamers are more common than many think. Of the heavy core PC gamers, 51% were male and 49% female. With the gaming industry more popular than ever and indie games taking PC platforms by storm on clients like Steam and GOG, there is something for everyone on PCs. Console games, with a current affinity for first-person shooters and widely-ported sports games, offer less variety, so it would be interesting to see the male/female split there.

PC Gamers: The Gaming Veterans?

The study also found that, at an average age of 38 years, PC gamers tend to be older than console gamers. They’re also more affluent with an average income of $69k. Speaking of finances, PC gamers are also less likely to pay full price for a game, which isn’t surprising since most console games are priced at the $60 standard, while PC games are more frequently linked to cost-saving bundles or holiday sales on Steam.

Another factor that contributes to PC games being cheaper than their console counterparts is digital distribution. Digital games (which have less overhead cost to release) have been available for PC gamers for some time, while console gamers are just becoming acquainted with it. However, those saving on PC game costs may be spending the savings on PC hardware sales; a single discrete graphics card for a high-powered gaming rig can sometimes cost as much as an entire gaming console. However, even more modestly priced hardware will handily outperform either the Xbox One or the PlayStation 4.

While the console war shows no signs of slowing down, it’s data like this that reminds us that no matter how different we may be on the outside, our mutual love of gaming is what brings us all together in the end.

Image Credit: Flickr (via Creative Commons)


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