British gamers spent nearly £200 million on MMOs like World of Warcraft according to the latest research.
The Today's Gamers MMO Focus Report by TNS and Gamesindustry.com suggests that 1.5 million people in the UK spend an average of £10.50 a month on massively multiplayer online games.
The total of £195 million is more than Germany (£165m) and France (£145m) but a drop in the ocean compared to the US – where $3.8 billion (£2.55bn) was spent.
Subs, micro-payments and cheating
Around £79 million, 41 per cent of the total was spent in monthly subscriptions, £16 million in annual subscriptions and £24 million on buying games and expansion packs.
Micro-payments accounted for £38 million, the same amount spent by people buying up virtual currency (aka cheating).
"Micro-payments on the free-to-play games plus subscriptions for the rest make MMOs lucrative - if you can convince gamers to pick your MMO over the others," explained MSN's Jane Douglas.
"They only have so many hours to sink into games like these, so competition is tough."
CVG's editor Tim Ingham believes that the UK's obsession with MMOs sends out a strong message, and is intrigued by the impact of the free-to-play Runescape .
"Okay, so this doesn't paint a picture of us as the globe's sexiest nation," he said, "but look on the bright side - at least, for once, we're top of a European league table that doesn't feature binge drinking, obesity or teenage pregnancy.
"Despite Lord Of The Rings Online's best efforts, there's really only One MMO To Rule Them All in Blighty: Warcraft's domination of the market is still colossal.
"However, it's very interesting to see Runescape rise through the ranks of WoW's wealthier pretenders to woo the British public.
"It's a free-to--play MMO: The perfect tonic for a skint nation with plenty of unemployed hours on its hands."