Virtual Goods: Good for Business?

Nic Mitham

Abstract


Whilst 2008 saw the emergence of the virtual worlds sector, 2009 has to be called the year of the virtual good. With online destinations such as social networks seeing a creation of brand-new revenue steams and virtual worlds ‘giving the users want they want’, the virtual goods sector is one of the fastest growing areas of the Internet. In its most popular form, virtual goods relate to accessories for avatars–clothing, hair and other person-related apparel. These are purchased by users to customize their appearance and are popular across all types of virtual worlds, from kids and tweens right through grown-up worlds and also apply across all genres. There is an incumbent demand for users to want to change and
control how they are seen in virtual worlds. But virtual goods don’t just include avatar appearance customization. Online communities are learning how to monetize all aspects of the user experience, including the ability, for example, to buy a bespoke user name or access specific areas inside a virtual world. On the SocNet side, virtual goods are being used to great effect with social/mini-games, providing ‘tools’ to complete a game faster/level-up.

Keywords


virtual worlds; virtual goods; B2B; B2V; B2C

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The full website for the Journal of Virtual Worlds Research can be found at: http://jvwresearch.org