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Study: More than 1 in 10 Americans buys virtual goods

Virtual goods are more pervasive than we may have thought. A new study shows that social games and networks are driving revenue.

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G1 credits PlaySpan

New survey data from research firm Magid and Associates and PlaySpan shows that virtual goods sales are growing dramatically with more than 1 in 10 Americans spending real money on purchases in the last year.

According to the study, "12% of the overall population surveyed reported that they had bought virtual goods in the last 12 months. However, a closer look at the digital entertainment habits of virtual goods buyers reveals that virtual world visitors are the heaviest virtual goods buyers, with 46% of these consumers buying virtual goods (from virtual worlds, games or social networks) and nearly one third of iPhone owners buying from the same platforms."

Virtual world users, social gamers, and iPhone owners all made more purchases than hardcore gamers, which suggests that casual players are likely more comfortable spending money on goods as the games they play are generally free.

Key points from the survey results:

  • 12 percent of Americans spent an average of $30 last year on virtual goods purchases, with 15 percent of those who made purchases saying they spent at least $100 or more.
  • Females ages 25-34 represent the largest demographic of those who made purchases (17 percent).
  • Of those surveyed, Asian Americans represent the largest ethnic segment (16 percent), followed by Latinos (14 percent), Caucasians (12 percent), and African Americans (10 percent)
  • 46 percent of those who've made purchases are virtual world users, with nearly 30 percent coming from iPhone users.

Sustainable revenue from virtual goods is not a foregone conclusion, but the options for monetizing goods are growing and providing new possibilities.

Follow me on Twitter @daveofdoom.