31% of gamers have used real money to purchase virtual goods; women most likely to spend in casual gaming

virtual shoppingWhen my mobile games bombard me with offers to increase the yields of my zombie farms, or to make my angry birds even angrier, I generally see this as cheating. I’ve always preferred to put in my time, or slug through the difficult stages to build my gaming credibility.

Accoding to a study being released by PlaySpan (with research from VGMarket), I might be alone in these sentiments.

According to the study, nearly one third of gamers have used real world money to purchase virtual goods in the gaming community, and of those, 57% do it at least once a month. 

Of these virtual purchases, 51% of these occur through online console games and 31% through social networking games.

The study also reports that in purchasing Facebook credits to buy in-game products, women (43%) purchase almost three times that of men (13%). This difference is even greater with casual games from 1st party publishers where women spend 40% more than men. Women (37%) are also almost twice as likely as men (19%) to buy virtual products to decorate a page, persona, or avatar.

In terms of marketing, men (49%) seem to prefer email communications than women (38%). On the other hand, women (31%) are more receptive to Facebook promotions than men (18%).

The study is not without controversy however. There are discrepancies in the data between this study and other studies in terms of what proportion of gamers are women. In other words, while women might be more likely to spend real money on virtual products, men might still make up a larger proportion of the market population.