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Americans look set to spend $1bn (£600m) on virtual goods in 2009, claims a report.
The cash will be spent on add-ons for online games, digital gifts and other items that exist only as data.
Total spend on such items is expected to be up by 100% over 2008 and to double again by the end of 2010, said the analysts behind the report.
In related news, Facebook is updating its gift store so it offers a wider variety of virtual presents.
Virtual gifts? Virtual presents? What the heck is that?lol
it's what worked for international social networks too. basically, if you like a person X, you can send them a virtual gift. or instead of giving them 5 points (out of 5) for their photo, you can get them 5+, which costs N cents. apparently monetizes "social" traffic well.
I got my start in virtual goods selling when Richard Garriott created Ultima Online over 10 years ago. I quit that ultra competitive market as soon as I could afford to move into real goods but it was quite the experience.
eBay got it's legs by allowing virtual goods such as game gold and items from Ultima Online and other games early on... yet they turned their backs on it when they got serious with paypal.
It's definitely not a market for the faint of heart, if you carry $50,000 in virtual "stock" it could vanish instantly and NOBODY will help you recover it.
Still... I'm one of todays net entrepreneurs who got his feet wet with virtual goods and I KNOW I'm not alone in that sense. The good ol' days!