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.