Thanks to Facebook, iPhone, U.S. gamers have nearly tripled since 2008

FarmVille player
FarmVille player

Facebook and Apple, if you haven't patted yourselves on the back yet, feel free. A study by market research company Parks Associates found that 135 million people in the U.S. play at least one hour of games a month. The study, titled "Trends in Digital Gaming: Free-to-Play, Social, and Mobile Games," compares that to 2008, in which 56 million admitted to gaming.

Social games on Facebook and elsewhere hit the scene around 2007, and hit their stride along with smartphone games in 2009. According to the study, 17 percent of all gamers have downloaded games on their smartphone, a 7 percent jump from 2008. A whopping 80 percent of all gamers surveyed reported that they play free-to-play (F2P) games online, which include everything from core F2P massively multiplayer games (MMOs) to tending to digital crops in FarmVille.

It's no surprise that the F2P movement has transformed the games industry, but these numbers are nevertheless staggering. "Instead of ending support of customers after they buy individual game titles, game companies now focus on building gamer communities and developing ongoing relationships with their customers," Parks Associates research analyst and study author Pietro Macchiarella said.

Of course, with that comes constant revenue flow, as Zynga has dutifully displayed in Facebook's initial public offering. According to the study, Facebook gamers that pay spend $29 a month on average, while paying F2P game players spend $21 monthly. Think about that in terms of millions of players, and you can easily see why this trend will quickly become the norm.

[Via VentureBeat]

In what other ways could F2P gaming transform the gaming world? What are your favorite F2P games at the moment? Sound off in the comments. Add Comment.