Results Snapshot From PlaySpan-sponsored Study Of Virtual Goods Purchasing Trends.

PlaySpan, a Visa company (NYSE: V) and leader in monetization solutions for digital media, online games and social networks, today announced results from its new study of virtual goods purchasing trends. Overall, the study showed more than $2.3 billion of virtual goods 1 were purchased in 2011 in the U.S., with gamers spending an average of $64 each over the course of the year. The dollar amount per individual was up 28 percent over 2009.

According to the study, one in four consumers purchased a virtual good in 2011, a 100 percent increase over 2009. Among U.S. gamers, 35 percent have purchased a virtual good, which is up approximately 50% over 2010. Not surprisingly, given well-established historical buying patterns, U.S. male gamers were almost twice as likely as female gamers to purchase these virtual items.

“Consumer acceptance of virtual goods represents a huge growth opportunity, not just for game publishers, but for all digital content companies,” said Karl Mehta, founder of PlaySpan. “We believe we will continue to see a positive growth trend in games and that virtual goods will expand across multiple industries, such as music, movies, social gifting, and rewards, to name just a few. Data we’ve uncovered in our study should help producers and distributors of all digital content fine tune their strategies for reaching audiences across some of today’s most commonly used platforms.”

Frank N. Magid Associates conducted the online PlaySpan survey of virtual goods trends in early January of 2012—the data reflects consumer behavior in 2011. Over 600 qualified individuals completed the questionnaire.

Selected findings from the 2011 survey

Young males still dominate the business

Nearly 50 percent of males 24 and under said they bought a virtual good in 2011. By contrast, only 15 percent of females in that same age group made the same claim. Surprisingly, females between the ages of 35 and 44 show the largest participation among women in the purchase of virtual goods—23 percent.

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