High Score for Digital Games Despite Players’ Preferences for Old Consoles

Canadians are spending more time getting their gaming fix on mobile devices

TORONTO, June 6, 2013 – According to Video Game Acquisition in Canada, a recent study from leading global information company The NPD Group, physical video game sales are down, while digital downloading – predominantly driven by free downloads – is on the rise. Though many Canadians prefer the old console format, the increased availability of digital content paired with a greater amount of connected devices has driven an increase in the number of consumers gaming online.

On average, 17.3 games were acquired per user in 2012, but this number has declined to 15.4 in 2013. The trend is due primarily to a drop in physical sales attributed to fewer new title releases over the past year (25 per cent less). Further, the way people are playing video games continues to shift, with Canadians spending more time on mobile handheld devices like tablets and smart phones. Consequently, mobile gaming has grown to be a major part of the video game industry. The NPD Group estimates that the digital channel has increased from approximately 50 per cent of total acquisitions in 2012 to 58 per cent in 2013, however paid digital gaming has only seen modest gains over the past three years. Free play has nearly doubled in share of acquisitions since 2011, opening up a world of new casual gamers.

“The digital gaming market continues to be a growing channel in Canada, so it is necessary for both manufactures and retailers to understand what kind of impact this has on the industry as a whole,” said Meghan Campbell, account manager, Technology and Entertainment at The NPD Group. “It is yet to be seen, however, if ‘free’ gamers will eventually contribute to the marketplace or if they will simply continue to enjoy playing without paying.”

Behaviourally, the average consumer is spending about the same amount of time gaming this year as last, which is roughly seven hours per week. However, over one third of Canadian gamers (35 per cent) claimed to have cut back on how much they spend on video games, while only one in five (19 per cent) are spending more.

“With greater competition between traditional consoles and other emerging gaming devices, it is critical for manufacturers to meet or exceed consumer expectations,” continued Campbell. “In order to encourage early adoption, retailers must focus their marketing efforts on the industry’s new innovations to entice target shoppers and eventually win their business.”

An online survey of approximately 20 questions was completed using The NPD Group’s Online Consumer Panel. The survey was fielded to a representative sample of adults and teenagers aged 13 to 54. Teenagers were recruited using The NPD Group’s surrogate methodology whereby moms were asked to have their teenage son or daughter complete the survey. The online survey was fielded in English and French between February 20 and March 6, 2013. An ending sample of 4,094 device owners who reported at least one new or used video game acquisition in the past six month was included the study.

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Daina Astwood-George
APEX Public Relations
416-924-4442 ext. 235

The NPD Group, Inc.
900 West Shore Road
Port Washington, NY 11050

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