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Profiling Social Gamers

Females, older users dominate play

February 26, 2010

If you aren’t one of the 24% of US and UK Internet users playing social games at least weekly, you may have seen the traces of those players and their FarmVille or Scrabble exploits in your Facebook newsfeed. PopCap Games, maker of several popular titles, explored the demographics of the group in its “2010 Social Gaming Research” report.

More than one-half of players are female, and the average US player is 48 years old. Relatively few US weekly gamers are under 30, while nearly one-half are over 50.

UK and US Social Game Players, by Age, January 2010 (% of respondents)

Most players are not college graduates, and, in the US, just over one-half report a household income under $50,000. Two-thirds of US social gamers also play other video games, but the bulk of their gaming time is with social rather than casual or “hardcore” options.

More than one-third of weekly social gamers play the games several times a day, with a further 30% playing daily. The time adds up: A plurality of sessions last 30 to 60 minutes, leading nearly four gamers in 10 to participate in social gaming for 1 to 5 hours weekly.

Facebook overwhelmingly dominated as the top social gaming destination, with 83% of weekly gamers playing on the site. Just under one-quarter used MySpace. Many considered game play their main reason to use such sites, and PopCap reported that about one-half of the time players log in to social sites is to play.

Percent of Time UK and US Social Game Players Log in to a Site Specifically to Play, January 2010 (% of respondents)

Social gamers are mostly interested in connecting with friends and exercising their competitive instincts, but the activity makes them a prime target of social network marketing, including virtual currency, virtual gifts and ads.

Slightly under one-third told PopCap they had spent real-world money on either virtual currency or a virtual gift before. And one-quarter claimed they had been “misled” at some point by an ad or special offer related to a social networking game.

A Q Interactive study of female social gamers found that nearly three-quarters would not pay to play, but most felt happy about receiving virtual gifts. About one-half noticed brand presences in their virtual games, such as through sweepstakes, offers and surveys.

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Check out today’s other article, “A Shot of Mobile Apps.”

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