Online social gaming has become a major moneymaker and is going to continue to grow, though the rate of growth is slowing considerably, according to a new national consumer study by Frank N. Magid Associates conducted in late March of 2012.
The research, conducted as part of the Magid Media Futures 2012 study, found social network gaming user growth has slowed in the United States. About two in five (38%) social network users, up slightly from 36% in '11, say they regularly play games on social networks. Social network gaming has decreased among its primary demographic, females age 12-44, with less than 43% of users age 12-17 (down from 54% in 2011) and about 36% of users 25-44 (down from 40% in 2011) reporting playing on a weekly basis.
However, there have been substantial increases in older age groups playing social games online, including males age 45-54 (up 15% from 2011) and 55-64 (up 9% from 2011), and females 45-54 (up 9% from 2011) and 55-64 (up 10% from 2011).
The Magid study also reports that consumers playing social network games say they will decrease the amount of money they spend on such games over the next 12 months. The average social network gamer who spends money on these games indicates that they are spending $51 vs. $78 last year on average. This year 34% of gamers say they are planning to spend less on social games in the next year vs. 22% who say they will spend more.
Consumers who play games on video game consoles indicate they expect to increase their spending on console games. One area expected to see an increase in spending in particular is Downloadable Content (DLC) for gaming consoles. A third of console gamers (33%) say they have bought DLC in the past with the average DLC consumer currently spending about $50 per year. Spending is expected to grow in the next year to 45% of gamers. This percentage includes those individuals who have not bought DLC in the past but plan on buying in the near future.
In order to buy DLC a gamer needs to have a console that is connected to the Internet. More than two-thirds of Xbox and PlayStation gamers in the U.S. go online multiple times a week using their console. Non-gaming activities now account for about a third of all time spent online on a connected console among those gamers. According to console gamers, online access is driving more spending and playing on their console. Online play has shown no signs of slowing; in fact online console player penetration is likely to grow by 10% or more next year as more console players are connecting for the first time.
Additionally, consumers clearly want cross-platform connectivity, with more than half of Xbox and PS3 owners wanting access to their game networks via their mobile phones.