Posted November 18, 2010 4:54 pm by with 7 comments

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When you talk about buying “virtual goods” it kind of feels like you’re actually getting something for your money. But if you think about it, virtual goods are imaginary. Sure, you get a picture representing what you bought but you don’t really own that cow or that casino or that designer outfit you bought to use in an online game.

According to a new study by In-Stat, consumers don’t care. They’re lined up to spend $7 billion on virtual goods by year’s end and it’s likely that the trend will keep going strong as we roll in to 2011.

Thanks to Facebook and iPhones, online gaming isn’t just for teens anymore. Now people of every age, gender and socio-economic background are spending their free time building virtual farms, battling monsters or training to be a Jedi.

Here are a few facts from the study:

  • The top 10 virtual goods companies earn 73% of current worldwide revenues.
  • The emergence of social and casual games on social networking sites and mobile phones has created a 2D virtual goods market that exceeds $2 billion.
  • The Americas and EMEA regions now have grown to account for well over a quarter of of all virtual goods sales. However, Asia/Pacific still dominates the global market.
  • In-Stat forecasts total virtual goods revenues will more than double by 2014.

Think the numbers are inflated? Forbes has an interview today with a man who spent $335,000 on a piece of virtual property in a game. Yes. He spent real money to get an imaginary tract of land. His reasoning?

“When motion pictures were first invented there were a lot of critics saying that it is a novelty act and it would never amount to anything nor will be able  to make any real money once the novelty wears off – last time i checked Avatar has grossed 2.7 billion dollars world wide. . . . Virtual Universe is the next logical step in world entertainment and although there are a lot of critics and people shaking heads it is here to stay and take its ranks among the greats.”

Looks like Mr. Panasjuk accounted for a good chunk of In-Stat’s $7 billion dollar estimate.

Now the question is, how much of that money will your company be making?

  • Tong teets

    Wow, no way thats like totally insane dude. Seriously.

  • Larry

    Yes the world is quite crazy now, i have ever heard online game player used to exchange virtual goods with real money and even trade virtual money with dollar. Will someday the forex market include virtual money??

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  • pb

    What about vacations, skydiving, movies and any other form of entertainment where no physical good is acquired? People are willing to pay for an experience and over time more of those experiences will be online.

    • simon c

      uhh…the first 2 things you mentioned, vacation and skydiving, cannot be digitised.

      I went to Japan on the weekend…never left the house? Jumped out of a plane the other day…never left the house? Had sex last night…no one else was there except me?

      I play paintball, the pain inflicted from said sport cannot be digitised.

      Even a “matrix-style” simulation is still just a simulation – unless the ‘safeties’ can be turned off – but then what business would let their customers die?

      Also, should digital goods be taxed?

      • Cynthia

        I purposely left the tax issue out of the article because it’s a whole nother can of worms and you know where it’s going.

    • Cynthia

      As far as paying for an experience or entertainment, I understand that. I don’t begrudge a company making money off of a game they developed, it shouldn’t be free. But paying 10.00 a month to play a game you enjoy and paying 335,000 to buy one element of a game is a big difference.

  • the people are crazy… wowwwww so much money