More Signs That Virtual Items Will Play a Big Role in Future Virtual Economies

Update:
I just came across this chart from VentureBeat, which uses data from a survey released in July by virtual goods items company PlaySpan and market researcher VGMarket.

 

Information is power, and between these reports and the Viximo report, there’s no shortage of proof that these things are hot, if slightly under the mainstream radar at the moment.  But don’t worry, in a year we’ll be hearing about virtual items  as much as we heard about Twitter last year.

Original Post:
Branded virtual goods (BVGs) are all abuzz these days.  A recent post on Mashable describes a recent report issued by Viximo and Virtual Greats, social gaming and virtual goods platforms respectively, that predicts more than 100% growth in BVGs over the next two years.  The report costs $195 is free (thanks for the update, Zeenat!), so I won’t will be providing further details about their predictions later, but there is clearly a demand by other virtual goods and social gaming startups.  There’s enough of a future behind this market that there will apparently be a virtual goods conference in Santa Clara, CA next month.  The conference is taking place in the real world, not in some virtual world, which is somewhat less exciting from a virtual worlds advocate’s perspective, but it still means that this is being taken as serious business.

And why not?  People loved the Cascadian Farms Organic Blueberries when they were available on Farmville and Snoop Dogg’s line of BVGs, which are sold across multiple game platforms, has netted more than $200,000 in real cash.  One reason to be cautious is that the legal status of these goods remains unclear.  By that I mean, the virtual goods aren’t worth enough individually for anyone to really care what happens if a few get wiped out, but in the aggregate they represent a considerable amount of money.  In terms of current and future revenue, virtual goods are anything but playthings.  They aren’t, however, goods in the ordinary legal sense, as they aren’t physically moveable at the time of identification to the contract for sale, which is required under UCC § 2-105(1).  They are intangible assets, which might be regulated by some of the other sections of the UCC, but most virtual goods and social game platforms are careful to word their EULAs to make sure that those laws don’t apply.  So consumers need to be fairly cautious before plunking down real money to enhance their farms or whatever.

That being said, I have to close out  with a link to the ultimate meme-related virtual good for which I would totally shell out real cash; I’m speaking of none other than the FrontierVille double rainbow!

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About Justin Kwong

An attorney in the Twin Cities and adjunct professor at William Mitchell College of Law where I teach a seminar on the law of virtual worlds.
This entry was posted in Contracts and Agreements, Virtual Currency, Virtual Items / Virtual Goods, Virtual Worlds and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

One Response to More Signs That Virtual Items Will Play a Big Role in Future Virtual Economies

  1. Hi Justin,

    I’m a marketing manager at Viximo and co-author of the BVG Report. Just wanted to let you know that the BVG report is a free resource, courtesy of Viximo and Virtual Greats, and it is available for free download at http://bit.ly/downloadBVG.

    You might be seeing $195 sticker from the virtual goods conference site; that’s the “value” of the report we are providing, but it is being offered for free to registrants. It is not the cost of actually downloading it.

    Hope this helps. Enjoy the report.

    Zeenat

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