Market research group Lightspeed Research says 53 percent of Facebook's members aged 18 and over have played a social game, and that 19 percent of those users consider themselves addicted to the games.
In surveying a panel of North American consumers, Lightspeed found that female respondents were not only more likely than men to have a Facebook account (75 percent vs. 63 percent), but they were also more likely than men to play social games and to consider themselves addicted to them (21 percent vs. 17 percent).
Younger people were more likely to say they were addicted to Facebook games, with 22 percent of 18- to 34-year-olds making the claim, compared to 18 percent for 35- to 54-year-olds and 15 percent of those 55 and older. Over half (55 percent) of social gamers claimed to have up to 10 friends playing the same titles as them.
Those gamers are getting more people addicted, too, as 59 percent of social gamers said they've encouraged their friends to join them, while 15 percent have invited strangers. Over one-third (37 percent) of the survey participants who play social games said the reason they started is that they were invited by a friend.
Lightspeed points out that the number of social game players is growing rapidly -- 65 percent of those people who have played a social game started in just the last year, and 13 percent said they began playing them in the past month.
Nearly two-thirds (63 percent) of Facebook gamers said they play one or two social games at least once a week, but 14 percent play five or more. 27 percent play their social games daily, and 28 percent play several times per day. 65 percent play 30 minutes or less per average social gaming session, while 27 percent play 30 to 60 minutes, and eight percent play more than an hour.
Advertisers are benefiting from all these social gamers, with 39 percent of players responding to marketing activity in exchange for game rewards -- 20 percent joined a new game, 19 percent clicked an ad, 16 percent asked for a newsletter, 13 percent signed up for a free offer, and three percent applied for a credit card.
Roughly one in four (26 percent) survey participants also said they are more likely to buy products from a particular brand or company that has sponsored or advertised in a social game, with more men than women falling into this group.
"With half of Facebook users aged 18 and over participating in social games, the popularity and potential influence of online games is huge," says Lightspeed marketing director Naor Chazan.
Chazan continues, "Having witnessed successful in-game branding sponsorships from 7-Eleven, Microsoft and Honda, social games offer a new and exciting way to engage with existing and potential customers."