This isn’t going to be another “games aren’t just for kids” piece. We, well the 60 million odd people on Facebook who regularly log on to Facebook to play one just game – Farmville, have moved beyond that.
The global number of gamers, just within Facebook, is estimated at 53% of all users, so a healthy 350 million people (Source: Facebook). And the majority of those are women, 58% to be exact. A study by the games developer PopCap, surveying 5000 users found that in the UK the average gamer was in fact a 38 year old woman.
Looking at further research from Inside Network, the same findings are reiterated, women are driving the numbers. The exception is with the Mafia Wars game that highlights the different types of games that appeal to the two sexes, men still prefer to drive fast and kill people whereas women are more attracted to puzzle and order.
Even Wall St. has woken up to the appeal of games. Zynga, the largest of the social gaming companies and the creators of the runaway successes Farmville and Cityville is expected to IPO within the next two weeks with an estimated value of $14bn. That is nearly double what LinkedIn floated for last week.
Why such a high valuation? Simply put Zynga makes a huge amount of money. Gamers are very happy to give real money for virtual goods within the games. So happy in fact that Zynga pulls in an estimated $17 million per month which comes from a combination of users buying virtual goods and advertisers such as Starbucks putting virtual coffee stores in the game. The total virtual goods market in the US is $1.6bn (source: Bloomberg).
UK developers are getting in on the act too having launched one of the most interesting new concepts in the form of IAMPLAYR, which recently received £5m funding from investors. The game is a first person view of life as a professional footballer fusing traditional gaming mechanics alongside high production movie imagery.
Below you see the players, in their Ginsters sponsored kit, celebrating in the dressing room after clinching promotion.
The spread of the games can also go beyond the virtual environs as Ginsters, the shirt sponsors in IAMPLAYR have demonstrated when they will release an on pack promotion of the game offering consumers free credit to spend in the game to improve their player.
Some stats from gamers and virtual currency:
- Zynga makes 80% of its revenue from just 5% of its users
- 7% of users that make a virtual goods purchase are still buying them after four months.
- The best performing social games are able to get 41% of users to make a repeat purchase.
- U.S. and European users spend more on social games than Asian users — far more. The average North American spent $74, while the average Asian player only spent $30 on virtual goods.
- However, when it comes to users that make more than one purchase, Latin American users come out on top, spending an average of $300 in a four-month period.
So what are you waiting for ?
Get in the game.