If you’ve ever played a video game on a mobile device (smartphone, tablet, e-reader), you know how frequently the games try to lure you to spend real $ to purchase enhancements to your gaming experience — even going as far as making it incredibly difficult to advance on your levels without coughing up some hard-earned real money. Clearly those tactics are paying off in a major way: mobile gaming revenue is expected to surpass that of console gaming this year and reach a whopping $7 billion (according to industry watchdog Newzoo).

However, the companies making these games likely know very little about their consumers. Sure, there are social media tie-ins to many games, and some degree of information can be accessed in that way. But it’s only through scientific, representative market research that more can be revealed to better understand these in-app spenders. That’s exactly what we did at CivicScience.

In a poll that asked over 5,700 U.S. adults about their spending on mobile game purchases, we learned that there’s a fairly sizable market out there: 12% admit to buying ‘stuff’ within those gaming apps, with varying degrees of monthly spend.


The persona of the in-app game spender emerged as we compared those respondents with the average across dozens of other attributes drawn from other poll question responses they’ve given. Here’s a summary of what we found — and we won’t even charge you ‘lives’ to get this intel:

The mobile in-game spender is more likely to be an older Millennial (age 25-34), and slightly more likely to be a parent. They are frequent users of social media sites. Their smartphone of choice tends to be the Apple iPhone.

They have the means and inclination to spend more in general: They are more likely to have an annual household income of $100K+ and slightly more likely to be currently employed. They tend to be more optimistic about their financial future, are more likely to be spendthrifts who have difficulty controlling their spending, and even have spending involvement where they work. Overall, they prefer to shop for convenience, yet also like to talk about new brands and technology.

They are a bit more carefree in their thinking about things like their own healthcare, online privacy, and federal government issues like the deficit and illegal immigration. Yet as whole, they are somewhat more likely to own a gun.

Now, how did we arrive at that? Read our full report for all the details. (Or should we say, “click here to level up“?)