According to a recent study, 88 percent of gamers have purchased digital content over the last several years. The study was conducted by market research firm DFC Intelligence using a survey of 5000 gamers from the US and Europe during the first two months of 2010. The study also looked at data from several different countries -- including South Korea, the U.S., Japan, Germany, Vietnam and the Philippines -- gathered over the last seven years. The worldwide data was provided by Live Gamer, a company that helps developers and publishers monetize their products.

It's worth noting that the content described by the survey includes music and movies as well as in-game content. Still, 60 percent of those surveyed have purchased in-game items, most of which were offered as part of free-to-play games. DFC analyst David Cole notes that the free-to-play model gives games distinct advantages over traditional single releases, saying that "a single product can have a lifespan of years online as opposed to a few months on the retail shelf."

According to DFC, free-to-play games like Farmville and Combat Arms, which the firm refers to as "MMOG Lite," are expected to grow substantially over the next few years. DFC sees what it calls "MMOG Lite" products growing substantially in the next few years. Specifically, DFC predicts that the MMOG Lite market in Europe and North America will grow from $800 million in 2009 to over $3 billion by 2015.

But don't feel left out, core gamers, these finding apply to all kinds of games. Live Gamer's Andrew Schneider points out that core gamers are "increasingly engaging in the purchase of virtual goods" and adds that the study illustrates "the market potential as traditional Western game publishers migrate towards microtransactions as the central monetization method."

Frankly, the study's findings seem just a little far-fetched. Now, if you'll excuse us, the crops need tending.

[Via Gamasutra]

This article was originally published on Joystiq.