The gaming industry has changed drastically over the years: from cartridges and CDs to digitally distributed games, not only for gaming consoles, but for social networks and mobile devices as well. It is the future of gaming and NPD has numbers to prove it.

According to NPD’s Games Industry: Total Consumer Spend report for Q1 2011, $1.85 billion was spent on non-traditional means of acquiring and experiencing video game content including used game purchases, game rentals, subscriptions, digital full-game downloads, social network games, downloadable content and mobile games in the U.S. during the first quarter of 2011.

The North American market research firm claims that this number accounted for 31% of total spending on video games in the U.S., which came in at $5.9 billion in the said period.

While the new physical retail channel still generates the majority of industry sales, it shows a clear shift in the direction of the gaming industry, most notably towards social and mobile gaming.