FOR 19-year-old student John* (not his real name), nothing beats playing a few rounds of Zynga Poker on social-networking website Facebook after a long day of lessons.
In fact, the second-year polytechnic student adores the online game so much, he spends close to $50 a month to support his online hobby.
"I pay to buy extra virtual currency because I enjoy playing in high-stakes poker games. That's why it's very easy for me to lose all of my virtual chips quickly," said John, who has been playing the game since early 2009.
He is not alone. Singapore is placed at the top of a list of six countries' average spending per person on gaming in general, according to Money Online Global (MOL), which operates MOLPoints, a virtual currency that can be used to purchase game credits for social gaming.
The other countries on the list were India, Indonesia, Malaysia, Thailand and the Philippines. MOL declined to comment on the rankings of the other countries in the list.
Its president for global operations, Mr Craig White, said that, in Singapore, most buyers of its stored-value game cards - which can be cashed in for credits that are then used to buy in-game items - are young men between ages 13 and 25.
It added that several hundred Singaporeans spend over $1,000 regularly to purchase items such as in-game power ups and energy points.
One gamer, for instance, spent $8,800 on gaming purchases over a six-week period from June to the end of last month. MOL said that, on average, Singaporean gamers spent "about $15 to $20 a month" on gaming.
It noted that around 60 to 70 per cent of its revenue from the sale of game cards to Singapore gamers are spent on virtual poker chips for use in Zynga Poker.
The remaining game cards are used to purchase credits for highly popular Facebook games such as Cafe World and CityVille.
The Kuala Lumpur-based company sold US$600 million (about S$722 million) worth of game cards in South-east Asia last year. MOL presented the results of the survey, which was conducted over two weeks, to the media yesterday.
The survey took place from June 20 to July 3 this year, where it had Facebook users respond to any one of 30 questions related to social gaming.
It contained questions ranging from why users played social games to how much they spent on a social game, attracting responses from 600 to 16,924 users.
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