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Players spending less on social farm games, more on 'mid-core' titles - study
Players spending less on social farm games, more on 'mid-core' titles - study
May 15, 2012 | By Eric Caoili

The percentage of paying social game players in the U.S. has nearly doubled, but those gains have been offset by users spending less on social games, particularly on farming titles, according to a new study.

Analyst firm SuperData says that the average revenue per paying user (ARPPU) for farming titles has fallen in recent months, while the ARPPU for "mid-core" games is the highest out of all social game categories.

Mid-core games are titles that target core audiences, such as strategy or combat-focused releases (e.g. Empires & Allies, Social Empires), but feature free-to-play business models. Mid-core players are currently spending over three times more than social farm game players.

SuperData claims that ARRPU in general has fallen by around $8, from $45.58 in April 2011 to $37.59 last month. This amount seems to fluctuate significantly from month-to-month, though, as it was $46.71 in March 2012.

Despite the drop in ARRPU, social games are attracting more paid users. SuperData notes that social games converted 2.5 percent of players into spending users in April, compared to only 1.4 percent during the same period last year.

The group also predicts that by 2015, the worldwide social game market, including the mobile sector, will reach $13 billion. It currently estimates North America's revenues for 2012 at $1.8 billion, and Europe's at $1.4 billion.

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Christopher Enderle
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So the market is becoming more hardcore?

Megan Swaine
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How many "farming titles" are they actually talking about? Two?

Joost van Dreunen
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(Disclaimer: I work at SuperData.)

Christopher: yes, it is. There are several reasons, but I'll highlight two. First, social games have introduced a large number of people to video games that traditionally never saw themselves as gamers. Like all gamers, this new generation is developing an appetite for more complex game play. Second, publishers are targeting different audiences (e.g. kids, hardcore, girls, etc.) and we see increased spending among games that focus on a sub-segment or niche.

Megan: we're talking about six different farming titles, across multiple platforms (e.g. Facebook, Google+, etc.). In total, we track over 50 different social titles.

Nicholas Bellerophon
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Important to know the difference between mid-core and hardcore. Social gamers will migrate into mid-core games, but you're not going to see them playing Starcraft II in Diamond league any time soon. The Wii is a good recent example of a successful strategy focused upon targeting the mid-core gamer market.