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Summary:

Roughly 12 percent of Americans, or more than one in 10, have bought a virtual item at some point in the last 12 months, according to a new study by analyst firm Frank N. Magid Associates and commissioned by virtual currency provider PlaySpan. With the virtual […]

Virtual goods demographicsRoughly 12 percent of Americans, or more than one in 10, have bought a virtual item at some point in the last 12 months, according to a new study by analyst firm Frank N. Magid Associates and commissioned by virtual currency provider PlaySpan. With the virtual goods and currency market estimated to reach $1.8 billion this year, the Magid study offers some insight into exactly who’s doing the buying, and where.
Demographically, for example, while 15 percent of males aged 12-24 reported purchasing virtual goods, 15 percent of women between ages 35-44 did so, too. As Mike Vorhaus, president of Magid Advisors, put it to me, the boys are getting virtual swords for their MMORPGs, while the women are buying virtual flowers on Facebook. Vorhaus noted that categorization by ethnicity was also diverse, with Asian-Americans on the high end (16 percent), and the rest some 1-5 percent behind.

Segmenting that 12 percent according to consumers’ Internet activity and device ownership, social network gamers and iPhone owners are strongly represented (27 and 28 percent, respectively); PC and handheld console gamers were almost as likely to buy virtual items (between 19 and 22 percent.) However, active console gamers lag just a bit behind those segments.

Virtual goods purchases by Net mobile usage

Unsurprisingly, the most significant variable in purchase rate is virtual world usage: Nearly half of the respondents who report being active MMO participants are also virtual item consumers. (The key challenge for virtual world developers is figuring out how to monetize the other half, something I cover in my recent GigaOM Pro report, subscription required.)

Meanwhile, Eric Hartness, chief marketing officer at PlaySpan, told me he expects that by this time next year, that 12 percent figure will rise to 15-18 percent.

All charts and data courtesy Frank N. Magid Associates and PlaySpan.

  1. [...] study offers some insight into exactly who’s doing the buying, and where. Read Wagner James Au at GigaOm for [...]

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  2. [...] – GigaOm Tagged with: social network, virtual goods, Virtual World leave a comment « [...]

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  3. Bullshit. Could anyone even begin to believe this? There is no way 1% of Americans have done this.

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    1. Agreed. Was this gathered via internet survey, or what? That sample is definitely skewed.

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  4. [...] to a report on GigaOm, the demographics break down as [...]

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  5. [...] chunk of these virtual worlds is owning virtual goods, that cost no-virtual, but real money:  GigaOM reports that the virtual goods market is estimated to reach $1.8 billion this [...]

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  6. [...] chunk of these virtual worlds is owning virtual goods, that cost no-virtual, but real money:  GigaOM reports that the virtual goods market is estimated to reach $1.8 billion this [...]

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  7. There is no way this is good data seems everyone involved in the survey is a little biased.

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  8. you guys are all out of touch. tons of people are buying virtual items. between World of Warcraft and all the mobster games on Facebook and Myspace, how can you NOT see the scale?

    heck, i would argue ringtones are a virtual good too, if you included those, i bet the number would be a lot higher even.

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  9. yea this data is ridiculously wrong. maybe if “virtual good” included digital music, ringtones, and unboxed apps.

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  10. Thanks James, good points!

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