Report suggests the UK is a console nation
February 14, 2012 // 11:20 a.m.
Industry analyst the NPD Group has released details of its investigation into gaming in the US and Europe, and it has come up with some interesting statistics about different nations' attitudes to gaming.
Perhaps the biggest surprise was that the tide of console gamers is a cultural phenomenon which does not appear to cross every border. According to NPD's research, while the UK has the highest incidence of console usage out of all the markets analysed Germany boasts the biggest number of PC gamers.
France, meanwhile, is clinging on to dedicated hand-held consoles like the Nintendo 3DS and Sony PlayStation Portable at a time when NPD's analysis shows that gamers in most other nations have ditched theirs in favour of getting their portable gaming fixes on smartphones and tablets.
It's a trend in which America is leading: NPD's figures claim that portable hardware usage is a fraction that of what it terms 'app device usage,' with around half of all gamers with dedicated portable devices also playing games on their phones. Europe, meanwhile, isn't far behind: gaming on smartphones and tablets sits at around the same level as that on dedicated portable devices.
French gamers are traditional in another way, too. While gamers in the UK and Germany are buying their games almost equally in physical and digital formats, those in France are almost completely ignoring digital distribution platforms in favour of heading to a bricks and mortar store in order to get their hands on a physical product.
NPD's research also suggests that US gamers are typically older than those in Europe, a conclusion that may be called into question by anyone who has played a console FPS online. According to the analysis, Europe has a higher percentage of gamers in the 13-34 age bracket than the US.
The research, to be released in a pair of reports entitled US Games Market Dynamics and Europe Games Market Dynamics, suggests that developers and publishers need to target their wares carefully in order to maximise sales in particular regions. What the reports fail to investigate, sadly, is the reason for the geographical split: with roughly similar pricing and availability in both UK and German markets, it's unclear why the UK has embraced console gaming while German gamers are remaining true to where it all started with PCs proving the most popular platform.
One thing is clear, however: portable gaming is shifting to the smartphone, and with Sony betting heavily on the success of its upcoming PlayStation Vita hand-held console that's not likely to be welcome news for the company.