Who’s playing—and who’s paying?
About four in 10 US internet users play social games, according to May 2011 research from Kabam, a publisher of massively multiplayer social games. And for at least some of those gamers, spending on gaming content is on the upswing.
The Kabam survey, conducted by Information Solutions Group, found that there was a demographic and behavioral split in the social gaming population, depending on whether gamers limited themselves to casual games, like Bejeweled Blitz and FarmVille, or also played strategy, role-playing or similar hardcore social games.
Hardcore social gamers were more likely to be male and under age 40, while casual social gamers tended to be women, with more than 40% of this group over age 50. Hardcore gamers reported spending more money on gaming content, and 59% said they planned to spend more on social gaming content in 2011, compared to just 23% of casual social gamers.
The vast majority of social gaming is played on desktop or laptop computers, the survey found, with casual gamers reporting they spend 86% of gaming time playing on a computer and hardcore players spending 59% of their gaming time accessing games via that platform.
Smartphones, other mobile phones and tablets accounted for a much smaller share of casual gamers' time, at 5%, while hardcore social gamers spent 24% of gaming time on one of these mobile devices.
A separate survey, from mobile social network MocoSpace, compared the population of mobile social gamers and those who pay for virtual content, but broken down by ethnicity. A plurality of both groups were black, at 36% and 38%, respectively.
While Hispanics represented 31% of players, they accounted for only 21% of virtual goods purchasers. On the other hand, white users made up a disproportionate number of purchasers compared to their 18% share of the mobile social gaming population.
eMarketer estimates virtual goods revenues will reach $653 million in the US this year, up 28% from 2010.
6 October 2011