Free to play digital game most popular: Study

MUMBAI: TVGMarket, a market research firm specialising in the video game industry, and PlaySpan, which offers monetisation solutions for online games, virtual worlds, and social networks, have announced the 2009 digital goods report that reveals consumer behaviour patterns among existing customers of third-party online game marketplaces.

The survey consists of responses from a sampling of 2,425 customers across the PlaySpan Marketplace, Spare Change, and Ultimate Game Card.
The PlaySpan/VGMarket landmark study quantifies digital goods purchasing behaviour at the genre and item levels and also provides statistics on 1st party purchasing directly from the publisher, 3rd party purchasing through online marketplaces, and those who sell digital goods directly to other players.

‘Free to Play‘ Leads the Way : Analysing first party sales by genre, more than half of the respondents bought digital goods in a Free to Play game (58 per cent) over the last 12 months, which represents approximately the same number of total people who purchased digital goods in the MMO (34 per cent) and Social Network (23 per cent) genres combined. PC Online (12 per cent), Console Online (9 per cent), and Casual Games (9 per cent) account for the lowest level of participation.

More money is spent on digital goods in Free to Play games than in any other genre. Over the last 12 months, the median Free to Play digital goods expenditure was $75 per person, followed by $60 in MMOs and $50 in Social Network games. Other genres are also compared in the report including PC online, console online, and casual games.

Similar to first party purchasing behaviour, Free to Play and MMO genres are also the leaders in 3rd party marketplaces, with each genre generating $40 per person in annual revenue. This represents approximately 50 per cent more sales volume than Social Network games ($28) and 100 per cent more sales volume than PC Online games ($20). 
The largest number of sellers can be found in the Social Network genre, but the most money is being earned in the Free to Play genre. One out of two sellers made a sale in a Social Network game over the last 12 months and earned $50 (median), while one out of four sellers made a sale in a Free to Play game over the last 12 months and earned $98 (median).

Other interesting demographic information from the study revealed that 89 oer cent of the sellers were male with median age of 21 and having an annual household income of $30,000. All in all, 31 per cent or 742 of the total number of respondents said they have sold a digital good or item, with 39 per cent of the remaining 69 per cent confirming that they are either interested or very interested in doing so.

VGMarket president Michael Gluck says, “This report reveals not only the type of item and genre that are worth consideration, but the demographic make up of sellers and annual dollar amount they are able to generate as well. I think publishers will find out exactly what they need to know as to what makes most sense in terms of choosing the right business model and in-game economy”.

PlaySpan CMO Eric Hartness says, “Through this report, we wanted to share the most accurate and actionable data on the digital goods industry, to enable our clients, partners, and others to make good decisions on executing their business strategies. As digital goods leaders, we plan to continue conducting research and sharing the information to help accelerate industry knowledge and growth”.

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