Farms Begin to Wither as Strategy and Combat Drive Social Gaming

More people are paying to play social games than they were a year ago, but the average player is also spending less than in the past.

According to SuperData, the average social gamer who pays to play in the U.S. spent $37.59 in April, which is about $8 less than a year ago, when the average social gamer spent $45.58.

SuperData partners with publishers and developers to create an online gaming panel, which tracks more than a million paying online gamers every month. The report covers the U.S., Germany, Brazil and Spain, spanning all major social game genres, including city building, farming, and strategy and combat.

While the amount each player pays has fallen, SuperData found that as the industry has matured, more people have become more comfortable spending money inside the free-to-play games. In April, 2.5 percent of social gamers converted to spending users, compared to 1.4 percent a year earlier.

But the average paying game player should not be confused with the overall average spend per user. After all, you can spend a lot of time harvesting crops and building cities without ever paying a dime.

For instance, in the first quarter, Zynga said the average bookings per user totaled 5.5 cents, which is the company’s total revenue for one quarter spread across all gamers — whether they pay or not.

SuperData found that game players who play mid-core games, which include strategy and combat games, are spending the most right now. Meanwhile, the average spending player of farming games has been on a decline for the past few months.

The research firm estimates that the North American social gaming market will be worth $1.8 billion by the end of this year, and the worldwide social gaming market, including social games on mobile, is expected to hit $13 billion in 2015.

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Just as the atom bomb was the weapon that was supposed to render war obsolete, the Internet seems like capitalism’s ultimate feat of self-destructive genius, an economic doomsday device rendering it impossible for anyone to ever make a profit off anything again. It’s especially hopeless for those whose work is easily digitized and accessed free of charge.

— Author Tim Kreider on not getting paid for one’s work