NPD survey: 40 percent of freemium gamers pay for in-game content

By on April 23, 2012, 3:30 PM

According to the NPD Group, for every five gamers in the U.S. who play freemium games, two of those individuals will purchase in-game content. Freemium, which also falls into the category of F2P or free-to-play, is a sales model where the core content is offered without cost but players can optionally purchase items, weapons, classes, maps and other content which are intended to enhance their experience. 

No sales or revenue figures were given, however this news does seem to indicate that gamers are willing to pony up money in order to customize their characters, gain a competitive advantage or otherwise extend a game. This may be encouraging news for developers flirting with the idea of offering their titles under a freemium model. Just to name a few, many games have done so with great success, including Team Fortress 2 who's revenue increased 12x, Angry Birds, Dungeons & Dragons Online and most recently, Tribes: Ascend.

After surveying 6,416 gamers in the United States, the NPD Group discovered that 53 percent of gamers say they are aware of free-to-play games. 38 percent of all gamers claim to be "currently playing" some type of freemium game while 40 percent admit to paying for optional content to enhance their F2P experience. Only 15 percent of gamers aware of freemium games say they don't play any such titles.

Interestingly, there appears to also be a gender gap. NDP Group discovered that women were "significantly more likely" than men to purchase in-game content. No figures were given.

Despite tales of success, the firm's research revealed that gamers were less likely to spend money after playing a freemium game for more than one month. As a result, it would seem natural to extrapolate that developers should focus on providing fresh content regularly in order to maximize revenue and keep players interested.




User Comments: 11

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Julio Franco Julio Franco, TechSpot Editor, said:

If more people were like me then I'd deem those estimates, way way inaccurate.

TomSEA TomSEA, TechSpot Chancellor, said:

I'm not convinced that 40 percent shell out cash for REAL computer games like D&D Online, TF2, etc. But I tell ya what - there are a bunch of ladies at work who have zero problems whipping out their credit card to buy in-game items for those stupid Facebook Zynga games like YoVille and FarmVille. I know of one lady who shells out at least $100 a month for "premium" content in Farmville.

Take away those and I'd like to see what the real pay-for statistics are.

ikesmasher said:

I can't believe that many people do.

gwailo247, TechSpot Chancellor, said:

I've started playing a few FB or phone games of that sort, due to not having time for extended gaming sessions, and its pretty clever how they play on people's impatience. A person may not want to wait 5 days for some building to complete, so they'll pay 2 bucks to get it finished quicker.

ramonsterns said:

Never paid a penny for TF2 Store, but I stopped playing it after my favorite server went down.

I was playing Star Trek Online up until a month ago. Spent around $16 on it, I think they earned that much, but the development team seems more focused on drawing in more people than keeping the ones they've got, so I don't play that anymore.

I was also playing Tribes: Ascend, but their pay-to-not-grind-for-6-months kind of puts me off, specially when certain weapons are pretty broken. Never mind the rampant team stacking.

Currently playing World of Tanks. Will see how that goes.

Guest said:

I play World of Tanks since October 2011 and haven't paid a dime for it, nor do I intend to. Reason ? Weirdly acting matchmaker which sometimes creates infuriatingly unbalanced teams, and developers focusing on adding birds to existing maps instead of fixing it, plus gobs of new guns which promote gold economy (gold ammo purchases).

I would pay $10 for WoT *if* they fixed the messed-up stuff instead of adding crap all the time.

Rasta211 said:

I'm one of those in game purchasers! Interesting enough I didn't play those freemium games longer than 3 months.

Where expansion packs and paid download content included in this?

As long as the game isn't a heavy "Pay to win" type I'm in support of the adding a market system to the game. I think paying should reduce "Waiting times". As the paying person has work to go to and can't invest the time. The free player obviously has more free time so he invests time instead of money. It evens it out a bit don't you think?

ramonsterns said:

I play World of Tanks since October 2011 and haven't paid a dime for it, nor do I intend to. Reason ? Weirdly acting matchmaker which sometimes creates infuriatingly unbalanced teams, and developers focusing on adding birds to existing maps instead of fixing it, plus gobs of new guns which promote gold economy (gold ammo purchases).

I would pay $10 for WoT *if* they fixed the messed-up stuff instead of adding crap all the time.

This is how I feel with STO, for somewhat different reasons.

STO has Special Task Force Missions for end-game equipment and require a full team to get going, but there's only six of them. Instead of expanding on this so everyone at max level has more things to do with the crap they have, they keep adding mid-level story missions nobody would care about if they did slap on some weird reward that ends up being rather pointless and lackluster.

Mindwraith said:

Alot of that 40% would be LoL players

psycros psycros said:

I have yet to find a FTP game that's actually worth putting any real time into. Every one I've played (and I've played quite a few) has humongous flaws that the devs seem unwilling to address, probably because their too busy coming up with new crap for the addicts to buy. Maybe if all these companies stopped to ask themselves <i>why</i> they can't retain actual subscribers they would realize its because their not addressing core gameplay issues: levels coming too quick and easy, you never have to party before endgame (or you <b>must</b> party to get through things that are critical to your advancement), too much emphasis on PvP, broken content that's never repaired, etc. I don't have a problem with people paying to skip some of the "grind", but if somebody is that impatient, why are they even playing an MMO? Go play a MOBA or install some god hacks for a single player game. Might as well just let people buy max level characters with a nice chunk of gold and/or faction currency to outfit themselves with. Seriously, let's take it to the logical destination - developers have already legitimized selling in-game currency, epic items, bonus XP and every other conceivable shortcut. Why not let people just skip all that inconvenient leveling "content" and go straight to ganking each other or running the same raids over, and over, and over..?

treetops treetops said:

I am going to guess that the 40% of people that play TF2 do not spend money, or 40% of freemium users for any specific freemium game. But 40% of gamers who have played f2p games have paid for f2p extras at least once in there life.

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