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Report: Virtual currency No. 1 digital goods purchase

Virtual currencies are taking off in free-to-play games and MMOs. Is this the path forward beyond online advertising?

New research from video game market research firm VGMarket sponsored by Playspan reveals that gamers are actively making purchases to enhance their gaming experience, with free-to-play games leading the way to monetization. Playspan is a provider of monetization and payment solutions for games and virtual worlds.

Three out of four virtual goods buyers purchased in-game currency in the last 12 months and spent approximately $50 each. This statistic is interesting to me as I am always surprised when users buy in to currency that only works on one site. But, I suppose if it's the only option then you will eventually give in.

Of further interest in the report is the fact that free-to-play games may actually be monetizing better than MMOs (massive multiplayer online games) and social networks.

  • 58 percent made purchases in free-to-play (F2P) games over the last 12 months.
  • 34 percent made purchases in MMOs.
  • 23 percent made purchases in social network games.
  • The average respondent is currently playing three online games and 80 percent report buying digital goods for their own use while 20 percent said they purchase for gifts.
Virtual goods buyers
Virtual goods buyers Playspan

According to the report, the median average expenditure was highest among free-to-play games ($75), followed by MMOs ($60), and social networks ($50) respectively. Those are very impressive numbers especially considering how nascent the market is. I have to believe that those numbers dwarf any online advertising per-user revenue figures.

Data from the survey is based on 2,425 respondents across 1,000 online games, virtual worlds, and social-network apps of Playspan's Marketplace, Spare Change, and Ultimate Game Card properties.

Follow me on Twitter @daveofdoom.