On a per-capita basis among virtual goods buyers, women are spending nearly twice as much as men, according to a new study conducted by PlaySpan and VGMarket, even though more men are buying virtual goods overall.
The average female buyer spends fully twice the amount on in-game money as the average male buyer: $50 per year versus $25 per year. For virtual items, the gap was smaller, but still significant: $55 per year versus $30 per year, or 83 percent more for the average female.
Median values for the sexes were much closer. Median total spending among female players was $80 per year for females and $60 for men, meaning the above averages may be affected fairly heavily by the extremes on either end of the spending spectrum, which have a much smaller effect on median figures.
Despite the individual gender disparities, men may still be more likely overall to spend money on virtual goods. Of the 2221 surveyed individuals between the ages of 13 and 64, 78 percent were male, and 75 percent of the total sample said they had purchased virtual goods in the past year.
For the purposes of the study, virtual goods encompassed items, game content, and currency in social games, massively multiplayer games, and online PC and console games, including add-on levels and other DLC.
It is possible that women had a relatively low total representation in the survey as a whole because many respondents play online PC and console games that tend to be less played by female audiences; also, those games tend to feature infrequent opportunities to buy virtual goods, whereas social and MMO games -- which have higher female representation -- often offer ongoing paid content and options.