Virtual goods revenue continues to climb

New data shows that users are still buying virtual goods. Will this trend continue or will users eventually tire of constantly paying for in-game goods?

Heavy virtual goods buyers
Heavy virtual goods buyers Magid/PlaySpan
New survey data from research firm Magid and Associates and in-game commerce provider PlaySpan shows that virtual goods sales continue to grow, with games leading the way to monetization.

Virtual goods remain a promising alternative to advertising, and even to subscription revenue for many games and social networks. As mobile games continue to play an important role in gaming revenue, I would expect to see the sales of virtual goods continue to skew toward mobile devices as users seek instant gratification and bite-sized chunks of high-quality gameplay.

The follow-up to last year's survey reveals that buying habits aren't changing, rather that more individuals in a broader range of age groups are partaking in virtual good purchases. Not surprisingly, the users who visit virtual worlds regularly, along with those who play games across a variety of platforms, make purchases more consistently.

Highlights from the report:

  • 13 percent of consumers with Internet access have bought digital or virtual goods online in the past 12 months; 21 percent of these virtual goods buyers will buy more in the next 12 months.
  • On average, virtual goods buyers spent $92 on virtual goods last year.
  • iPhone owners, virtual world regular visitors, and frequent gamers are the heaviest virtual goods buyers.
  • More than 50 percent of buyers bought virtual goods in a game.
  • A net of 48 percent of buyers bought digital goods through a social network site; more than one-third bought goods in a free Web-based game.

Despite all of the interest and revenue growth in virtual goods, there remains a question as to whether or not users will become fatigued from constantly being asked to buy additional in-game things, as well as a question regarding the impact of the different monetary forms, such as Facebook credits, that are just starting to make progress against both PayPal and standard credit cards.

About the author

Dave Rosenberg has more than 15 years of technology and marketing experience that spans from Bell Labs to startup IPOs to open-source and cloud software companies. He is CEO and founder of Nodeable, co-founder of MuleSoft, and managing director for Hardy Way. He is an adviser to DataStax, IT Database, and Puppet Labs. Disclosure. You can contact Dave via e-mail at softwareinterrupted@gmail.com.

 

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