Consumers in the United States will spend $21.6 billion on videogames in 2011, down from $24.6 billion last year, according to market research firm Newzoo.
The study predicts that 2011 will, for the first time, see mobile, online and downloadable games account for more than half of the total amount of US consumer spending on videogames. Sales of console games are to fall 20 per cent, with those of boxed PC and Mac games falling seven per cent.
Those drops will be offset by dramatic increases elsewhere: the social and mobile sectors will each grow 37 per cent, with digital distribution climbing 11 per cent. Spending on MMOGs and casual games will rise by three and four per cent respectively.
Looking ahead, Newzoo expects the slide in consumer spending to reverse in 2012, rising by some three per cent as sales of boxed games recover and social and mobile continue to grow.
Newzoo CEO Peter Warman said: "Everyone in the game industry understands that the new online and mobile free-to-play business models have the power to accelerate growth…not only in number of players but also in money spent.
"We expect console gaming to seriously recover in 2012, pushing the overall market back to growth. But that year will also witness app stores and cloud gaming making a serious attempt to conquer the living room TV screen. A new battle for the biggest screen is about to begin."
An infographic published at Newzoo's website claims that almost half of the population of the United States are active gamers. The full report – which focuses on western countries but also factors in estimates for emerging markets including Brazil and Russia – will be released next month.