Popularity of social gaming and virtual currency set to grow in Singapore
SINGAPORE, August 2, 2011 – Recent online research revealed that there is a robust social gaming community among Facebook users in Singapore. Results also show that while social games are free to play, users who make in-game purchases do so to enhance their gaming experience and status on their network. Although the use of virtual currencies in social gaming is still in its infancy in Singapore, the potential for monetizing social gaming content is significant.
Social gaming is a new genre of easy to play online game that is played by a wide demographic of users with their friends on social networks. Some of today’s most popular social games include FarmVille and Pet Society.
The online research, conducted by Singapore-based Internet payment provider MOL AccessPortal (MOL) between 20th June and 3rd July 2011 used Facebook Polling Engagement Ads. The sample size of respondents differed for each issue, some of which were answered by as many as 16,924 Facebook users.
“As social gaming is becoming pervasive among social network users in Singapore, it was timely for us to gauge the behaviour of these users and share these insights. Inevitably, we found that social gaming is mainstream and creating deeper engagement and interactions for players,” said Craig White, President of Global Operations at MOL Global.
The online poll is a unique way to gauge the pulse of Facebook users in Singapore. The poll advertising investment created broad awareness among Facebook users in Singapore and resulted in 38.75 million impressions. From these impressions, there was a total of 71,105 actions.
Social gaming in Singapore
Results show that 59% of poll respondents play Facebook games for fun while 30% do it to de-stress . 60% of users polled play Facebook games primarily because they are free to play while 30% said it was because their friends are playing . Some of the popular Facebook games voted as their favourite social game include Bejewelled Blitz, CityVille and Pet Society.
When segmenting the results according to age, students make up the largest audience (84% of respondents ) for social gaming in Singapore – even though it is known to appeal to all ages and across genders. More than half of users polled play social games on Facebook with friends, with 64% playing more than 3 games at a time.
Findings revealed that social role-playing games (e.g. Mafia Wars) are most popular among respondents , compared to social strategy (e.g. Café World) and social card games (e.g. UNO for Facebook).
User behaviour on in-game purchases
Though social games on Facebook are offered free, exclusive in-game items need to be purchased. Given the free-to-play nature of these games, it is unsurprising when findings showed that 59% do not pay for social games . When asked about paying for in-game credits and virtual goods, 35% of users polled say they are unaware of what they can gain by paying for social gaming.
For those users who do purchase in-game credits, 52% do so to level up quickly and gain exclusive in-game items while 41% additionally buy credits to donate to charity . Other benefits users are prepared to pay for include exclusive in-game items (50%), bonus game credits (31%), to make games more fun (43%) and to gain better game performance (39%).
While 41% of users have used Facebook Credits, 40% say they will only use in-game credits if it is safe and easy to use . On the other hand, 45% of social gamers who are already using virtual currencies on Facebook have an average monthly spend of less than S$50. The preferred method of payment for these is via prepaid cards that can be purchased at convenience stores, rather than via mobile payment (57% versus 30%).
The poll also revealed that online payment preferences are youth-centric, seeing as they make up the dominant demographic among the respondents. Prepaid cards was cited as their preferred method of payment, as most youth do not own credit cards. Cash transactions to purchase online credits also offer a sense of security to these users as it does not involve bank account privacy or related security issues.
“Now that social gaming is proving to be a popular social and commercial activity, businesses are rapidly responding to new social gaming opportunities. In-game currency brings great opportunities for businesses, but they need to understand how social gamers play,” White said.
The above findings pave the way for a deeper understanding of the behaviour of Facebook social gamers in Singapore, namely, what drives them to play, what motivates in-game spending and what their purchase preferences are. The polls also reveal the opportunity for developers and investors to educate users in Singapore on the benefits of virtual currency transaction, seeing as its rate of adoption is still in its early stage.
White further added that as long as these games continue to offer a deep and viral engagement among users, social gaming is set to stay. Moving beyond traditional online advertising, virtual currency in social game is one of the most viable business models that have come along in the social network arena.
The full report of the poll is also available to the public for download on MOL Singapore’s fanpage on Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/MOLSingapore?v=app_156099154455248
About MOL Global Pte Ltd (MOL Global)
MOL Global is one of Southeast Asia’s biggest internet companies and fully-own both payment service provider, MOL AccessPortal Sdn Berhad (MOL) and the world’s pioneer social network, Friendster Inc. (Friendster) Through its ownership of MOL and Friendster, MOL Global has one of the region’s largest end-to-end content, distribution and commerce networks, pairing MOL’s physical payment collection points and payment platforms with Friendster’s large online footprint, social network and gaming community in Asia. For more information on MOL, visit www.molglobal.net or www.mol.com.
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