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Despite fears, gamers download content more than ever

Gamers say security concerns are the biggest reason they don't download content to their Xbox and PlayStation 3 machines.EEDAR

Gamers are wary about downloading content to their PlayStations and Xboxes ... and yet, more gamers are buying and downloading game expansions and add-ons than ever, according to a new study.

Research company EEDAR released its annual "Deconstructing Downloadable Content" report Wednesday — a report that finds 51 percent of high-definition game machine owners have purchased downloadable content in the last 12 months compared to 40 percent in 2010 and 34 in 2009.

Downloadable content can be a variety of things — additional characters, missions and maps for a game, expansion packs and independently made games — all of which are downloaded to a game machine over the Internet rather than purchased in a store.

Check out In-Game editor Todd Kenreck's look at "Call of Duty: Rezurrection" (at right) for a good example.

Gamers are consuming this content so much so that EEDAR estimates revenue from downloadable content will surpass $1 billion in North American and nearly $2 billion worldwide during 2012. The research team says part of this 2012 bump will come thanks to the expected launch of Nintendo's Wii U machine — which Nintendo says will have beefier online features compared to the current Wii machine.

Despite these growing numbers, EEDAR found that many gamers are still reluctant to download content to their machines. Their biggest reason for refraining: privacy worries.

"Online security is currently a hot topic as many major video game companies and services, including the PlayStation Network, have been the target of recent security breaches," write the researchers.

EEDAR surveyed 3,500 Xbox 360 and PlayStation 3 owners for its report. And of the 49 percent of gamers who said they didn't download content, 47 percent of those said it was due to privacy concerns. Meanwhile, 38 percent cited the fact that there's no return policy for these purchases and 32 percent refused because they feel it's too expensive. Check out the below close-up for a look at the other reasons they cited.

Gamers, how do you feel about downloadable content these days? Are you among the 51 percent who buy it ... or do you belong to the 49 percent who avoid it?

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Winda Benedetti writes about games for msnbc.com. You can follow her tweets about games and other things here on Twitter or join her in the stream here on Google+. And be sure to check out the In-Game Facebook page here.