Tablet gamers will spend more than $3 billion on in-app purchases in 2016 due to the increasing acceptance of in-game purchasing and virtual currencies combined with the rapid uptake of tablets.

A Juniper Research report has forecast that in-app purchases via tablet-based games will reach $3.03 billion in three years’ time, more than 10 times the $301 million calculated for 2012.

Report author Sian Rowlands said that only a low proportion of gamers make in-game purchases and most of those spend small amounts. However, a small proportion are spending significant amounts, subsidising games for other players.

Developers are increasingly using virtual currency to monetise their games instead of offering in-game items or pay-per-download titles. This approach can increase user engagement as the virtual currency can only be spent within the particular game (or portfolio) it has been bought in.

North America and the Far East and China will account for 86 per cent of tablet users’ in-app spending in 2016. However, smartphones will remain the primary devices for making such purchases, with more than $6 billion in revenue.

The report also found that many gamers are moving from dedicated portable gaming devices to tablets, and to a lesser extent smartphones.

This is because the freemium model being embraced by tablet users is harder to implement on dedicated devices which don’t support 3G or 4G connections and require games to be bought upfront.