Gravity wave (GW) parametrizations for general circulation models (GCMs) restrict the propagation of GWs to the vertical direction. The influence of this vertical-only propagation assumption on the distribution of GW drag (GWD) has not yet been investigated. Thus, we present results of two global GW ray tracing simulations, one with full three-dimensional propagation (GWO) and a second one with vertical-only propagation (GWV) of GWs for January and July 2008. The Gravity wave Regional Or Global RAy Tracer (GROGRAT) was used to perform these simulations with a global homogeneous and isotropic launch distribution. Both simulations, GWO and GWV, are analyzed with respect to GWD in the zonal and meridional direction. The location of zonal GWD maxima changes. GWO shows in comparison to GWV a poleward shift of zonal GWD in both seasons with increased GWD at the summer stratopause. The meridional GWD is much stronger in the GWO case, spatially correlated with the zonal drag, and is generally poleward directed. These features in zonal and meridional drag are consistent with a general prevalence of poleward propagation of GWs. Additional simulations suggest that this is due to the Coriolis effect as well as wind filtering around the tropopause, allowing more GWs to propagate into the middle atmosphere. We infer how GWs of different horizontal wavelengths and phase speeds cause the main differences in GWD in the middle atmosphere. A simple test for GCMs is proposed to assess the effects of the altered meridional drag on the general circulation and the interaction with planetary waves.