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Newzoo: Mobile most popular platform, least popular to spend money on

95% of surveyed gamers play on mobile, but the platform has a lower player-to-payer ratio than console or PC

Mobile players reluctant to spend on free-to-play titles, men investing more in games than women, fears of fraud and a call for loyalty and reward schemes for regularly engaged players.

These are just some of the insights from the Newzoo survey, conducted in partnership with ACI Worldwide. The companies surveyed 2,051 people between the ages of 18 and 40 who played games for at least two hours per week on any platform across the US, UK, and Germany. Its questions examinined behavior, preferences, and experiences among gamers regarding paying for games, DLC, or making in-game purchases.

Perhaps the most notable finding is that while more people than ever are gaming on mobile, but comparatively fewer are paying money for it. Per the report, 95% of gamers are playing on mobile, but the platform's player to payer ratio is lower than either console or PC at 56%. It's worth noting that mobile has far more free-to-play titles than either console or PC. Of those willing to pay money, fewer are actually buying full games, too. 75% of paying players on mobile are spending money on in-game purchases.

Even with the high amount of mobile players, console and PC obviously cannot be discounted. In fact, 73% of respondants played games on all three platforms: console, mobile, and PC. And across all platforms and all three countries, 77% of those surveyed were willing to spend money on games.

What are they spending money on? 62% are purchasing digital games, 51% are spending on in-game purchases (with power-ups and DLC being the most popular purchase choices), and 46% are buying boxed or disc games.

In general across all three countries surveyed, men are far more likely than women to spend money on games. The gaps are most pronounced in the UK, where 66% of men vs. 49% of women are willing to spend on games. The closest gap is also in the UK, but on mobile: 49% of men and 48% of women will spend on mobile games in the country.

Newzoo's survey didn't just focus on who paid, but it also included a look at why...or why not. Of those who spent money on games, 39% did so to derive more enjoyment from the game, followed by 27% who did so to treat themselves to a gift. 20% did so to show appreciation or support for the game's developer.

Of the possible responses, the one that received the least selections was "frustration," indicating that players are not likely to try and buy their way out of being annoyed by a game.

A slightly surprising trend among multiple sets of responses was the desire for more loyalty or reward programs. 68% of paying gamers said they would be more likely to keep playing and paying if a game offered a reward program for doing so, and 24% of paying gamers who believed the payment experience itself could be improved thought a loyalty program was a good way to go about it. That option for improving the payment experience had the most responses, and was followed by 20% wanting the payment process simplified. Across all countries, devices, and demographics, PayPal was the most popular form of payment.

As for why players might not want to pay, one-third of those who paid for games said they'd be reluctant to spend money on a game due to worrying about fraud, and 19% said they had experienced fraud in some form when paying for games online. 40% of non-payers cited satisfaction with the free gaming experience as a reason not to open their wallets, and 47% said they wanted to spend their money on other things. Interestingly, more paying players (32%) were reluctant to pay if they felt they were asked to pay far too often to progress in the game.

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Rebekah Valentine avatar

Rebekah Valentine

Senior Staff Writer

Rebekah arrived at GamesIndustry in 2018 after four years of freelance writing and editing across multiple gaming and tech sites. When she's not recreating video game foods in a real life kitchen, she's happily imagining herself as an Animal Crossing character.