The US video game market appears to be stuck in a holding pattern. While there weren't any significant declines in consumer spending in 2013, there wasn't any noteworthy growth either.
New research published Tuesday by The NPD Group shows that users in the US spent $15.39 billion on video games -- which is nothing to shake a stick at, but it's only 1 percent more than spending in 2012.
Breaking down the numbers, gamers spent a total of $6.34 billion on new physical video and PC game software, $1.83 billion on used and rental physical software, and $7.22 billion on digital software. The digital software includes full games, add-on content downloads, subscriptions, mobile games, and social network games.
The money spent on physical sales decreased 11 percent from 2012 but was offset by strong growth in full-game and add-on content downloads, along with mobile games. The NPD Group found that in 2013, 36 percent of the US population age 13 and older played games bought digitally. The research firm said that digital software is now extremely important to the video game market.
"Growth in digitally distributed content is vital to overall industry health," industry analyst for The NPD Group Liam Callahan said in a statement.
While 1 percent growth doesn't sound like especially good news, it actually bodes well for the industry. It's the first time the market has experienced growth in the last two years -- in 2011 and 2012 The NPD Group reported declines in both content and hardware spending.
Additionally, in 2013, the hardware market showed an increase in spending with 5 percent growth over 2012. This was largely due to a strong fourth quarter and holiday spending and the launch of next-generation game consoles like Microsoft's new Xbox One and Sony's PlayStation 4.
"The bottom line is that the overall games market is growing," Callahan said.