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Study: 58% Of PlaySpan Users Buy Goods From Free-To-Play Games

Study: 58% Of PlaySpan Users Buy Goods From Free-To-Play Games

December 11, 2009 | By Chris Remo

December 11, 2009 | By Chris Remo
More: Console/PC

58% of all its users have bought virtual goods from inside free-to-play games, significantly more than more traditional titles, according to a study by digital goods monetization firm PlaySpan.

Based on a survey of 2,425 of PlaySpan users who had bought digital goods from publishers within the last year, VGMarket found that 58 percent of users bought goods from within a free-to-play game -- the highest proportion -- while 34 percent of users made in-game purchases in MMOs and 23 percent made purchases from social games.

Traditional online PC, console, and casual games saw much lower digital goods pickup: 12 percent, 9 percent, and 9 percent respectively.

And not only did free-to-play games see the highest purchase penetration among users, they also generated the most money on a per-user basis. The average user's expenditure on publisher-sold free-to-play digital goods over the course of 12 months was $75, compared to $60 for MMOs, and $50 for social network games.

As with the penetration statistics, more traditional gametypes saw lower annual expenditure, but those games of course also derive their primary revenue from up-front purchase cost. Respectively, online PC games, online console games, and casual games saw digital goods spending of $40, $36, and $29.

And as for what people are buying? Spam doesn't lie: People like purchasing in-game currency. Among both publisher-sold digital goods and digital goods sold by external parties, currency was by far the most-wanted commodity.

Among publisher-sold goods, 73 percent of buyers bought currency, 40 percent bought weapons, 32 percent bought wearable items, and 30 percent bought subscription codes. Third-party-sold goods saw similar proportions.

Of those who buy, 24 percent say they do so every day, while 65 percent say they do so at least once a week, which indicates why annual figures are so high despite individual transaction costs traditionally being quite low.

[UPDATE: headline corrected.]

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