Virtual Goods worth $3 Billion

Love playing computer games but never seem to have the time? Well why not outsource it?

Many computer games operate private currencies which allow users to accumulate wealth (usually represented as gold or treasure points) through the accomplishment of tasks. The gold can be used to upgrade skills or buy extra equipment etc and so improve your chances. It is possible in many games to purchase extra gold (using real world cash) or now you can let someone else develop the skills-set and accumulate the wealth and sell it to you for use in your game, basically outsourcing your game playing.

A report from infoDev funded by the UK’s Dept for International Development shows that “more than 100,000 people in countries such as China and India earn a living through online games and websites disseminating micro-tasks”. That’s basically people playing the games, accumulating the wealth and selling it on to players in the West. What’s more the market is already worth $3 billion and that’s been building up during a world-wide economic slump. Importantly it is bringing much-needed real world capital into developing economies.

Virtual Goods are increasingly big business and open up new opportunities for real world businesses. Companies like McDonald’s have already partnered with companies like FourSquare (which blends virtual and real world social gaming) as a new way of marketing.

We’ve seen a boon in private currencies in recent years. Virtual goods are the latest development but many companies already run loyalty card schemes (e.g. Tesco Clubcard) for consumers. However with the rise in Virtual Goods and their trading we also see a potential for these virtual currencies to have a forceful impact on the value of the currency markets. Since prices must be set and agreed in real world currencies between the international individuals involved in the trades.

The rise of Virtual Goods offers new opportunities for business to engage with consumers in new ways and to make the best use of customer loyalty. It may also be true that very soon someone slaying Orcs or planting virtual flowers may be directly affecting the world’s money markets.

Tags: , , , , , , , ,