According to the NPD Group's newest report, 'Social Network Gaming,' 20 percent on the U.S. population over the age of 6 has played a game on a social network in the past three months. This breaks down to around 56.8 million users in a brand-new market. The report goes on to say that 35 percent of social network gamers have never played any other type of video game prior. Women and older consumers were shown to be more likely to be new gamers.
Despite popular perception, the divide between genders is not weighed heavily on the female side. The study found that 47 percent of social gamers were male and 53 percent were female.
"Although 35 percent of social network gamers are new to gaming, it's clear that a lot of existing gamers have been drawn into the social network gaming arena as well," said Anita Frazier, Industry Analyst, The NPD Group. "This impacts both the time they spend with other types of gaming, as well as the amount of money they're spending on gaming. As more players are drawn into these games, the entire games industry is going to feel, and have to adjust to, the impact."
Most of the titles were free, which could present a barrier for developers hoping to monetize the influx of new consumers. Just 10 percent of social gamers have spent money on the games, while 11 percent say they're likely to make a purchase in the future. Social network games also take consumers away from traditional console and PC titles, with respondents reporting spending 20 percent less on gaming since they began playing social titles.
"There are many distinctions between the players who spend money and those that don't," said Frazier. "While social network gaming has caught on with a mass market audience, it's not without its challenges. Players are frustrated by slow loading and performance issues and report getting bored by the games easily. Clearly, these types of games will have to continue to evolve if they hope to hold their audiences and incentivize them to spend money playing."
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