Social games to see increase in virtual purchases (again), analysts say

Virtual goods purchasing trends
Virtual goods purchasing trends

It looks like we're going to be buying many more digital doodads in the future, according to a study conducted by Lazard Capital Markets. Lazard's survey also suggests that time spent in social games will steadily increase if not maintain.

"Specifically, 86 percent of online gamers plan to spend at least as much or more time playing games online this year," Lazard said. "Similarly, 88 percent of social gamers plan to spend as much or more time playing Facebook games this year."

Well, that is a lot of loyal Facebook gamers, but just because social games like FarmVille are immensely popular in the U.S. doesn't necessarily mean players are going to be suddenly inspired to throw their dough at a social game. According Lazard's study, 21 percent of Facebook users--both console and social gamers exclusively--are paying for digital goods somewhere. While this doesn't directly correlate to just digital purchases on Facebook, Lazard claimed, "Nonetheless, from a trend perspective we note that virtual goods consumption is increasing."

The prime question here is, regardless of what the numbers imply, what is it exactly that will improve attitudes towards digital goods enough to change how game content is accessed? It's entirely possible that by as early as the next generation of traditional video games that digital distribution will become the primary method of buying games, which social gaming has surely had an impact on. However, it's uncertain what would make us gamers more comfortable with spending money on intangible items. The regulation of social games' item prices through Facebook Credits might do the trick.

[Image Credit: Gamasutra]

Do you see yourself buying digital goods from a Facebook game in the future? What would it take to encourage you to buy items in your favorite Facebook game? Sound off in the comments. Add comment.