Forty percent of freemium players buy in-game goods

According to a new survey by the NPD Group, four out of every ten consumers of freemium games have made in-game purchases.


Many of us scoff at the notion of spending real-world cash on in-game purchases for freemium games, but the percentage of folks making those sorts of in-game purchases is higher than one might think. According to a report from the NPD Group, forty percent of those who play upgradeable freemium games have made in-game purchases.

The report also notes that although female gamers are more likely to play freemium games, male gamers are still the ones more likely to make in-app purchases for those types of titles. Those choosing to pay for such upgrades, typically do so within the first month of playing a game. Furthermore, 38 percent of the U.S. population--that's older than age 2--is reportedly playing "some type of freemium game."

"Males and those ages 18 to 34 are traditionally seen as a big part of the core gamer audience, so it's likely these groups are not quite as engaged with freemium because the gaming experience is quite different from what they are used to from the games they play on consoles, handhelds or PCs," said industry analyst Anita Frazier. "At a minimum, for these gamers a freemium game would provide a different experience, like a snack versus a full meal."

The data about freemium gaming habits was collected during a March study of 6,416 individuals, ages 2 and older.

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  • reply
    April 23, 2012 3:30 PM

    Jeff Mattas posted a new article, Forty percent of freemium players buy in-game goods.

    According to a new survey by the NPD Group, four out of every ten consumers of freemium games have made in-game purchases.

    • reply
      April 23, 2012 3:41 PM


    • reply
      April 23, 2012 3:42 PM

      I wouldn't be surprised if this number has been growing over the past 5 years and will continue to grow.

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        April 23, 2012 3:51 PM

        yep. people want to consume things, on their terms, on their time... so this is just a natural evolution of the always-connected lifestyle.

    • Ebu legacy 10 years legacy 20 years
      April 23, 2012 3:45 PM

      I've bought things in DDO. *shrug*

      Depends on the game and the item, if it feels like they're just milking things (I'm looking at you dumb bejeweled rip-off on PSVita) or if it's a reasonable and reasonably priced option.

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      April 23, 2012 3:50 PM

      Is this supposed to be a bad thing? I don't mind throwing some coin towards a developer if they make a fun game...

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        April 23, 2012 4:09 PM

        Strictly speaking, no it's not a bad thing. However, there may be some side effects:

        - Certain kinds of games might not be feasible to develop under a F2P model. I highly doubt that SWTOR could have been developed at the budget and production level it is if it were F2P (i.e., let's give it to everyone for free and hope people think it's worth paying us some money!)

        - Whenever a new thing takes off there's always this fear that it will replace the things you like. Sometimes it's overblown (Casual gaming will destroy Hardcore gaming!, or Console gaming means PC Gaming is dead!) and sometimes it's justified (like the people who think that long term smartphones will destroy handheld consoles)

        - There hasn't been any really long term studies of whether or not this works over time. A lot of games get an initial burst of popularity and money but that levels off or declines, which results in having to pull maneuvers to make money that piss off your (now comfortable with not spending money) user base. You see a lot of games that go like this:

        1. Make a game with subscription fee
        2. Game flops, go F2P
        3. Make 500% more money after going F2P (impressive statistic until you realize that 500% of not much is still not much)
        4. Begin to realize that the handful of crazy spenders are not sustainable long term
        5. Start to design game such that spending money is necessary to play effectively
        6. Wonder why everyone's pissed off at you

        But we'll see. A game like TF2 makes a lot of sense as a F2P game since the game was initially developed with a flat profit motive and Valve has incentive to keep the game going without milking players since it gets new people to install Steam which is more valuable to them.

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      April 23, 2012 3:54 PM

      I've bought some Team Fortress (Quake 1 Rocket Launcher, and I NEVER regret it!) items, and Tribes. Both fine giving them a few bucks for such good games.

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      April 23, 2012 5:17 PM

      ages 2 and older? why 2? or is that just where the "E" rating technically starts?

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      April 23, 2012 9:38 PM

      I don't think I've ever made any in-game purchases in a freemium game... I enjoy some of them but once I hit a point where I need to spend money to keep enjoying it I tend to lose interest. Although that doesn't mean I don't like the idea... I'm sure there will be a game that I purchase something in at some point.

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      April 23, 2012 10:16 PM

      Every game using this payment scheme needs to be marked so.

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      April 23, 2012 11:03 PM

      I could see myself buying things in Lord of the Rings online, if I ever started playing that game in a serious way again.

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