Survey Shows Economy Has Powerful Impact on Online Casual Gaming Behavior
IRVINE, Calif., April 4, 2012 /PRNewswire via COMTEX/ --
ArcadeWeb, a highly-trafficked site where casual gamers play for free and can compete to win daily cash prizes, today released key findings from a national survey of its online gamers. Recently conducted among 1,435 casual, tournament players at its site, the survey was specifically designed to provide insight into how the current economy is impacting diverse aspects of casual gamers' behavior - whether time spent playing, or their current and planned online gaming spend.
"The online casual gamers we surveyed clearly indicate that a still-tough economy is having a significant impact on their current gaming behavior. Not only do they report playing more - which is great news for the industry - it seems to be fueling the momentum behind the hottest, fastest-growing gaming category, 'freemium' or free-to-play models," said Adriano Parrotta, VP, Social Games, ArcadeWeb.com.
Post-Recession? Not According to Gamers
While pundits talk of economic recovery, it's apparently not being experienced by the casual gamers surveyed: 82% claim they have as many (35%), or more (47%), financial challenges than they did two years ago.
Bad Economy Increasing Time Spent Gaming
The majority (53%) of gamers surveyed report that current economic conditions are directly impacting their gaming habits, with 66% (of that majority) reporting that the economy has led them to spend more time with online gaming in general. More men (62%) than women (48%) - and more people in the western U.S. (58%) than any other region - claim the economy has changed their gaming behavior.
Gamers Seek Stress-Relief, Free Entertainment and To Win Money
The site's casual gamers were polled on why they're playing more now, and the top three reasons were:
1) stress relief (32%), 2) it's free, fun entertainment (29%), and 3) because free, new tournament sites allow me to compete to win money (25%).
So, for more than half of gamers surveyed, the "free" aspect is driving increased time-spent-gaming. One in four reports that it's the rise of free sites, where they can also compete to win money, that's increasing their time spent playing. "Stress relief" generally ranked higher for older gamers, while "free entertainment" and the rise of more "free, new tournament sites" ranked highest for the young, under-24 set.
The State of Virtual Currency Purchases:
The survey measured virtual goods purchasing patterns by age, gender and region. Overall, 68% report they have never spent money on virtual currency/credits at online gaming sites (while 32% have). And while these new findings concur with other recent research showing that younger and male gamers were more likely to purchase virtual currency, the age/gender gap was not as wide as is typically reported.
1 in 3 Have Bought Virtual Currency - No Major Age or Gender Gap
Overall Men Women Age 18-34 35-44 45-54 55-64
Have Purchased 32% 36% 30% 34% 39% 28% 30%
Thirty percent of female, and 36% of male gamers - and 34% of those aged 18-34, and 30% aged 55-64 - have made virtual currency purchases. Gamers in the West (41%) were most likely to have ponied up for virtual currency, while the Midwest (27%) and Southeast (29%) regions reported the lowest rates of virtual currency purchases.
Gamers Plan Big Spending Cuts
Gamers who reported they currently spend money on online games (whether virtual currency, subscriptions, etc.) were asked about their plans for the year ahead. Fifty-eight percent reported they plan to cut their online gaming spend (49% significantly), with only 7% projecting they would spend more.
Planned Virtual Currency/Online Gaming Spend - 2012
Significantly Less Somewhat Less Same Somewhat More Significantly More
49% 9% 35% 4% 3%
And for both men and women - all age groups from 18 to over-64 - and across all U.S. regions, at least 40% of gamers surveyed plan "significant" online gaming spending cuts in 2012.
Given this powerful spend-aversion, it was not surprising that 84% of gamers report they prefer totally free, ad-supported gaming sites, vs. the 16% that prefer pay-for-play sites with no ads.
"Because the virtual currency purchasing model is now so widespread at many huge, 'free' casual sites on Facebook and beyond, that spend should grow somewhat overall in 2012," noted Parotta. "But our survey reveals a powerful resistance to pay-for-play models by casual gamers, and real traction for models that are 'purely free,' or even 'beyond free' - sites that offer users free games and a chance to win real rewards or money."
Launched in mid-2011, ArcadeWeb has rapidly become one of the largest, most highly-trafficked gaming sites on the Web, and is one of the only sites to offer hundreds of free casual games, and a chance for gamers to compete in daily tournaments to win real cash prizes. The site awards up to $50,000 every month in cash prizes to its users. McAfee-, Verisign- and TRUSTe-certified, ArcadeWeb guarantees complete gamer privacy protection.
Media Contacts: Melanie Webber, mWEBB Communications, (424) 603-4340, firstname.lastname@example.org Angela Jacobson, mWEBB Communications, (714) 454-8776, email@example.com
 ArcadeWeb's snapshot survey was conducted among registered, tournament-playing members at its casual, tournament-style site in February-March 2012.
 A recent Magid Advisors survey (1/2012) found that teen boys and young men were almost twice as likely as women to buy virtual items.
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