Men are three times more likely than women to make in-game purchases than women in free-to-play games, according to new research on gaming behavior. Men spend an average of $13.38 per month compared to $4.84 for women.
The study, commissioned by PlaySpan and conducted by Frank N. Magid Associates, was based on a December survey
of 743 gamers ages 13 to 54, found overall that free-to-play games -- where access is free but users are charged for virtual goods or currency during game play -- are now overwhelmingly preferred to
paid games. Nearly eight in 10 people (77%) are spending more time with free-to-play titles than paid ones.
In actual numbers, the study estimates that 110 million U.S. gamers are playing free-to-play games. “The shift in free-to-play games is becoming the norm in the gaming industry and this survey reinforces that trend,” said Robert Crawford, vice president of Frank N. Magid Associates, in announcing the results.
The average amount spent on pay-to-play games, however, is still three times higher than on free games, at $28.86 versus $9.15 per month. Among free-to-play games, younger demographics led the way in spending, with those 18-24 shelling out $17.43 a month and teens, $12.85. Among males in those age groups, the figures shot up to $30.54, and $19.94, respectively.
In addition to free-to-play games, men also outspend women on pay-to-play games by $34.53 a month to $22.59 a month. Among other gender difference, men also were twice as likely as women to play shooter games, while some were three times more likely to play games on social networking sites than men. In terms of devices, women (45%) prefer smartphones for playing games at nearly twice the rate of men (25%).
The overall trend is shifting in favor of smartphones, however, with handsets now on par with traditional consoles as the preferred gaming platform among those surveyed. While just over a third each cited consoles or smartphones, 11% pointed to tablets as their favorite device for playing games.
The transition in game play from consoles to smartphones and tablets has created increasing uncertainty for traditional console makers like Nintendo and Sony, as well as video game publishers like Electronic Arts, whose CEO announced this week he will step down at the end of March. The company’s revenue in the fourth quarter of 2012 fell from a year ago amid slowing sales of video game hardware, software and accessories.
Visa-owned PlaySpan, by contrast, which provides a monetization platform for games, benefits from the shift to free-to-play game apps.