While most game developers struggle to monetize even three percent of their users through direct payments for virtual currency, new numbers released today by Offerpal Media at the Game Developers Conference show that alternative payment methods enable developers to monetize significantly larger portions of their user base. Derived from a study conducted by comScore, a leader in measuring the digital world, as well as from Offerpal's own network-wide monetization performance, the numbers verify that social gamers are enthusiastic about alternative, or indirect, payment methods as a way to earn virtual currency for free rather than having to pay for it directly.
According to the comScore study, 53.3% of the total respondents reported that they would be "very likely" to complete a marketing action such as filling out a survey, watching a video, shopping at online retailers or signing up for a subscription in order to get points for the games they play on leading social networks. By comparison, only 22.8% of the respondents reported that they would be willing and are able to buy the points using cash payment methods such as credit cards, PayPal, bank transfers or mobile billing.
The study found that 29.7% of social gamers do not have the ability or the means to pay for virtual currency with cash options, and even among those who do have the ability and the means, 34.9% say they are "very unlikely" to part with their money in order to purchase points. When asked to indicate how likely they would be to use indirect payment methods to earn points in the games they play, the top preferred marketing actions included, in order, completing a free survey, watching a video, completing tasks such as tagging a photo or proofreading a document, shopping for clothes or other goods online, subscribing to a magazine and subscribing to a movie rental program.
Consumers' preference for alternative means to pay for virtual currency has been borne out in Offerpal's own metrics as well. In recent months, the company has added to its monetization platform a number of alternative payment options, including surveys, shopping rewards, tasks and video, to go along with the offers it has always run. Offerpal reports that since September, 2009 - when it launched Offerpal SURVEYS, the first of these incremental alternative payment options - the company has seen a 20% increase in the percent of users it is able to monetize.
One example of this growth is seen in recent tests of the company's video campaigns, in which 75% of the consumers who viewed a video ad in exchange for virtual currency had never before completed any type of offer nor made ade anor made a direct payment. What's more, nearly 10% of those users went on to complete at least one or more transactions—often incremental cash purchases—in just the first week after watching a video. Similarly, of the users whose first "payment" of virtual currency was by earning it through Offerpal's shopping rewards program, 21% went on to make a second transaction through the Offerpal system within one week.
"The data we're seeing shows that there is clearly a strong demand within social gaming for alternative ways to pay for virtual currency," said George Garrick, CEO of Offerpal Media. "When you think of how easy it is to conduct some of these marketing actions like watching a video ad, and the fact that so many people are already doing them online frequently and for no compensation, it makes complete sense that they might as well get rewarded in virtual currency for it. Our goal is to leverage all the most popular alt-pay methods to monetize the maximum number of users at the highest Revenue Per User for our developer partners."
Other findings from the report include:
* Gamers in the 25-34 age range are most likely (70.9 % "very likely") to be willing to earn virtual currency through marketing actions;
* Most of the gamers (54.5%) report playing games online at least once a day; 26.7% reported playing several times a week; 11.5% play about once a week; and 7.3% play two to three times a month;
* When asked what kinds of games they play on a regular basis, 58.4% of the respondents said they regularly play virtual world/simulation games, followed by arcade games (40.3%), role playing games (33.5%), action games (29.7%), board games (26.9%), card games (25.6%) and word games (23.4%);
* Of those who say they are "very likely" to buy points with a cash payment method, a majority of the users are men (53.4%) and a plurality in the 25-34 age range (42.8%); 85.4% of the users who say they are "very likely" to buy points with cash are also "very likely" to earn points through marketing actions.
The study was conducted between February 12th and February 15th, 2010, and includes detailed responses from 799 comScore panelists. Respondents were filtered to only include users who play games on the leading social network at least once a month.