In no time, virtual goods have become a major piece of the revenue pie at all kinds of internet companies, from social networks to portals.…

In no time, virtual goods have become a major piece of the revenue pie at all kinds of internet companies, from social networks to portals. Chinese portal Tencent pulled in nearly $1 billion last year from the sale of virtual goods, while Facebook earns between $50 million and $100 million. With serious questions about whether the digital advertising market will ever return to anything like it’s old self, more people are starting to talk about virtual goods as part of the solution moving forward. So what the heck are people buying in the virtual world? Below, the top sellers from three of the leading virtual-goods companies, Tencent, Playdom and Zynga.

–Virtual good: Premium instant messaging
–What it is: includes more bandwidth for photos, ringtones and other media.

–Virtual good: Pet penguins
–What it is: for a small fee, users can have an animated penguin running around their desktop and IM client (pigs and bears are also available).

– Virtual good: Page decorations
–What it is: users pay to decorate their pages with wallpaper and other adornments.

Playdom and Zynga’s biggest hits, after the jump

–Virtual good: Promotional offers:
–What it is: Users fill out a survey about a specific product or brand and receive free virtual currency paid for by the sponsoring brand. About half of the company’s revenues come from these kinds of promotional offers.

–Virtual good: Clothing
–What it is: players of its Sorority Life game

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  1. But people won't pay for content. Amazing.

  2. virtual world for kids Friday, May 8, 2009

    I think the reason being that virtual goods are more affordable than the real goods – yet having ownership of the virtual goods feels almost as good as owning the real thing to the buyers of such virtual goods.

  3. Indeed.

    I like to treat the Virtual World much like a Role Playing Game.
    Lots of people like fictional worlds, it being from fantasy to Sci-fi, most people want to escape their reality of not being able to afford items they want, or having to live the life of (for example) a mail man.

    These Virtual Worlds and Goods are a cheap and easy way to escape from reality and make your dreams come true.

    Much like why some people enjoy sleeping and dreaming.

    But that's my point of veiw, not saying everyone that pays for virtual goods or plays games are like this.

  4. About Tencent: the pet Penguin is not the main service nor money-maker for Tencent. This service is somewhat similar (though prior) to Disney's Club Penguin.

    Big money makers are charged-up IM with avatars, blogs and casual gaming. The same avatar is used in all of those which gives more "reach" and better perceived value to whatever item makes it look better.

    For more info you can check the free sample of the report we published on Tencent. It will be updated soon with the 2008 figures.

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