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Personal Finance Reports

Video Gamers, Finance, and Paid Downloadable Content

With a few avid video gamers on our staff, we’ve taken note of the recent buzz about paid downloadable content (or DLC) when it comes to video games. Of course, much of this recent buzz stems from the backlash that Electronic Arts (EA) received after trying their hand at an AMA, or Ask Me Anything, on Reddit.

In the AMA, developers of the EA’s new game, Star Wars: Battlefront 2, explained how much players would have to spend on top of the base price of the game in order to unlock all available features – $2,100. This is over 3,400 percent of the game’s retail asking price.

Naturally, this is an outrage to our staff who play video games because we’re used to paying $60 for a game without being charged extra for characters like Darth Vader and Luke Skywalker (we’re a bit older and used to the old gaming traditions).

Of course, this isn’t the norm today. Countless video games cost $60 up front and come loaded with options to spend more money for additional DLC – though we assume most don’t crack the 3,000 percentile marker.

With that being said, we were curious what gamers today are willing to spend on their favorite hobby as well as paid downloadable content. How does paid DLC affect their finances? Are gamers content with paying extra for DLC? How much do they spend? Is it worth the money? We asked these questions and more…here’s what gamers said.

Raw Poll Results

1. How much do you spend overall per year on video games?

a. 29.2% of video gamers spent “between $1 and $100”

b. 31.8% of video gamers spent “between $100 and $250”

c. 27.0% of video gamers spent “between $250 and $500”

d. 5.40% of video gamers spent “between $500 and $750”

e. 2.60% of video gamers spent “between $750 and $1,000”

f. 3.80% of video gamers spent “more than $1,000”

2. How many of your video games come with paid downloadable content (downloadable maps, characters, weapons, powers, etc.)?

a. 10.2% of video gamers said “none of them”

b. 54.4% of video gamers ​said “only a few (1% – 50%)

c. 35.4% of video gamers said “most of them (51% – 100%)”​

3. Which of these scenarios would you prefer when it comes to purchasing video games?

a. 42.4% of video gamers would “rather spend $120 for a full game that comes with all future downloadable content included”

b. 57.6% of video gamers would “rather spend the standard $60 for a game & have the option to pay for downloadable content

4. Which of these scenarios would you prefer after paying the full standard price for a video game?

a. 33.6% of video gamers would “rather pay for a monthly subscription service that covers all downloadable content”

b. 66.4% of video gamers would “rather have the option to pay for specific downloadable content options”

5. What is your opinion on paid downloadable content’s impact on video games in general?

a. 56.6% of video gamers think paid downloadable content is “beneficial to the industry and adds a lot of value to a video game”

b. 21.2% of video gamers think that paid downloadable content is “ruining the industry and doesn’t add much value to a video game”

c. 22.2% of video gamers said “I don’t have an opinion”

6. Have you ever bought downloadable content in a video game?

a. 82.0% of video gamers said “Yes”

b. 18.0% of video gamers said “No”​

7. How much do you spend per year on paid downloadable content for video games?

a. 31.46% of video gamers said they spent “between $1 and $50”

b. 32.68% of video gamers spent “between $50 and $100”

c. 21.46% of video gamers spent “between $100 and $200”

d. 8.05% of video gamers spent “between $200 and $500”

e. 3.90% of video gamers spent “between $500 and $1,000”

f. 2.44% of video gamers spent “over $1,000”

8. Have you ever felt pressured to purchase downloadable content in order to compete in online multiplayer games?

a. 53.8% of video gamers said “Yes”

b. 46.2% of video gamers said “No”

9. Within a year, EA earned $1.3 billion from downloadable content, more than half of their total revenue. How does that make you feel?

​a. 19.0% of video gamers said they were “really mad about it”

b. 53.0% of video gamers said they “feel neutral about it”

c. 28.0% of video gamers said they were ​”happy for them,” meaning EA

10. On a scale of 1 star (low) to 10 stars (high), rate your trust for big video game developers like EA.

​One Star – 3.20%

Six Stars – 13.6%

Two Stars​ – 2.00%

Seven Stars – 15.8%

Three Stars – 2.20%

Eight Stars – ​17.2%

Four Stars – 4.80%

Nine Stars – 9.00%

Five Stars – 10.6%

Ten Stars – 21.6%​

11. Have you ever stopped playing a popular video game because of the presence of downloadable content?

a. 35.2% of video gamers said “Yes”

b. 64.8% of video gamers said “No”​

12. Will you stop buying video games that offer downloadable content in the future?

a. 19.6% of video gamers said “Yes”

b. 80.4% of video gamers said “No”​

13. Do you think paid downloadable content should be allowed in online multiplay games?

a. 40.4% of video gamers said “Yes, all paid downloadable content should be allowed”

b. 45.4% of video gamers said “Yes, but only if players do not gain a performance advantage from downloadable content”​

c. 14.2% of video gamers said “No, online play is tarnished by paid downloadable content”

14. What kind of paid downloadable content do you most frequently purchase for a video game?

a. 43.8% of video gamers said they most frequently bought “single player campaign/quest expansions”

b. 25.2% of video gamers said they most frequently bought “Online multiplayer maps”

c. 22.6% of video gamers said they most frequently bought “online multiplayer weapons/power ups”​

d. 8.40% of video gamers said the most frequently bought “online multiplayer characters”

Analysis & Graphics

Video Gamers Don’t Hate Paid DLC

So, if you’re read anything about the dissent about Battlefront’s paid DLC economy and currency system, then you’d think that DLC is hated among gamers everywhere. Well, we found the opposite to be true.

In fact, the majority of our respondents have bought into the current downloadable content system. An overwhelming 82.0% of respondents said they have bought DLC for a video game. 

​The Current DLC System Is Preferred Over Alternatives

It turns out that video gamers actually prefer the current paid downloadable content system. In some cases, paying double up front could actually save you tons of money down the road. The flexibility and option to pick and choose DLC on a game seems to win out here as opposed to just getting it all for an extra $60.

We pitched this alternative DLC system where you’d get everything for a monthly subscription, but it turns out that gamers prefer the pick & choose scheme when it comes to DLC. Looks like the flexibility and options win out again.

Here’s What Video Gamers Are Spending

We asked video gamers how much they spend on video games annually, and then we asked them how much they spent on paid downloadable content specifically.

It seems that most video gamers spend up to $500 or less. A minority of gamers, only 12.8 percent, shell out more than that. They must be hardcore. We wanted to see how this expenditure compared to their DLC spending. Here’s the data:

Once again, most video gamers (85.6 percent) don’t break the $200 threshold. Only 14.4 percent of video gamers are spending more than that.

Well, what were they spending it on? We figured that out.​ Here’s a breakdown of which DLC people spent their hard earned cash on.


This video games and finance poll was run through an online surveying company known as Pollfish. These questions were asked to 500 respondents. In order to be included in this study, respondents needed to pass a screener question asking them about their video game habits. We polled habitual, dedicated video gamers who played both online multiplayer and single-player games on a regular basis.

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