NPD: 40% of Free-to-play players have bought something

A hefty chunk of free-to-play or "freemium" gamers have spent real dinero on their hobby of choice, according to a new report from the NPD Group. An online survey conducted by the group determined that four out of ten free-to-play gamers have made an in-game payment of some kind. Males are more likely to make such purchases, though females are more likely to have played free-to-play titles.

The report contains a few other interesting tidbits. For one, those who make an in-game payment tend to do so within the first month of playing, and those who try free-to-play titles tend to keep playing them, with 84 percent continuing to play after first trying them. Among those who abandon free-to-play titles, men aged 13 to 34 are most likely, while women in general are more likely to stay.

Perhaps the most interesting (horrifying?) statistic: data for the survey was gathered from 6,416 respondents aged two and older. Please, keep your two-year-olds away from the smurfberries.

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40 PERCENT OF THOSE WHO HAVE PLAYED AN UPGRADABLE FREEMIUM GAME TITLE REPORT MAKING AN IN-GAME PAYMENT

PORT WASHINGTON, NEW YORK, April 24, 2012 –According to Insights into the
Freemium Games Market, the latest report from leading market research company, The NPD Group, 4 out of 10 of those who have played an upgradable freemium game report making an in-game payment to extend or enhance a game.

Freemium games are digital games that are free of charge to play, though some may offer upgrades such as advanced features, functionality or new content that you have to pay for.

Among freemium gamers, females are significantly more likely than males to have played a freemium game, but they are among the least likely to pay for an upgrade.

"The majority of freemium gamers who opt to pay to upgrade their experience do so within the first month of playing a particular game," said Anita Frazier, industry analyst, The NPD Group. "When designing a game, it's important to consider features that would drive quick conversion to pay."

With no barrier to entry other than ownership of a compatible device and access to the internet, adoption of freemium games is quite high among those who are aware, with only 15 percent of gamers that are aware of freemium games choosing not to play them. Freemium gaming is also quite "sticky" with a conversion rate of 84 percent that continue to play among trial users. Females are more likely to convert than males, while males and those ages 13 to 34 are the most likely to abandon freemium gaming after trying it.

"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 PC's," said Frazier. "At a minimum, for these gamers a freemium game would provide a different experience, like a snack versus a full meal."

High awareness, high trial and high adoption of freemium games results in about 38 percent of the U.S. population ages 2 and older currently playing some type of freemium game.

Methodology
Data was collected via an online survey from Feb. 27 – March 7, 2012. The survey was completed by 6,416 individuals ages 2 and older. In cases where surrogate reporting was used, mothers were asked to bring the child to the computer to answer survey questions, either with or without assistance. In order to qualify as a gamer, respondents had to report that they currently, personally play video games. Final survey data was weighted to represent the U.S. population of individuals age 2 to 99.

About The NPD Group, Inc.
The NPD Group is the leading provider of reliable and comprehensive consumer and retail information for a wide range of industries. Today, more than 2,000 manufacturers, retailers, and service companies rely on NPD to help them drive critical business decisions at the global, national, and local market levels. NPD helps our clients to identify new business opportunities and guide product development, marketing, sales, merchandising, and other functions. Information is available for the following industry sectors: automotive, beauty, entertainment, fashion, food, home and office, sports, technology, toys, video games, and wireless. For more information, contact us, visit http://www.npd.com/, or follow us Twitter at https://twitter.com/npdgroup.

This article was originally published on Joystiq.