Casual game maker PopCap is taking a look at social networks, finding that over 24 percent of people it surveyed play games on sites like Facebook and Myspace regularly.
The company estimates that there are now about 100 million active social gamers just in the U.S. and the UK -- according to its survey of over 5,000 consumers, the average player is a 43-year old woman, adds PopCap. 1,200 people in the survey pool play a social game once per week.
"While still in its infancy compared to the traditional video game industry, the social games sector represents a huge opportunity to reach hundreds of millions of consumers who historically have not played video games," says PopCap, pointing out that the sector is its own audience with unique interests and needs.
And developers and publishers would be served learning to address those needs, PopCap says, citing analyst and researcher data that projects $1 billion in revenue for social games in the year to come.
Much of these revenues will likely come from virtual currency: a little more than half, or 53 percent, of PopCap's survey group have earned or spent virtual currency in a game.
However, only 28 percent have ever spent real money on currency, and despite a good deal of buzz around virtual gifting as the next big business model, only 32 percent of users have bought a virtual gift.