Free-to-Play Social Games : The Optimistic Future of the Virtual Goods Economy

By October 14, 2010
Virtual world

The Virtual Goods Summit took place in San Francisco, on the 12th and the 13th of October. Every topic regarding the Virtual Goods Economy was tackled during these two days of conferences: monetization, social gaming, the place of brands, the role of Facebook and other social networks, Asia’s influence, etc.

Currently, the value of the US virtual goods market is expected to reach $2.1 billion by the end of 2010. Some of the most important actors of this emerging industry had many lessons to give.

The media category where consumers most often buy virtual goods is social games,  so far. But even if a social game can be finalized in few months, the first few seconds when trying the game are decisive - if the player is not addicted to the game in the first instant of the trial, he will never go back to play, and will not even remember the name of the game.

That’s why report analyses are fundamental to be able to know exactly the profile of player, the time they spend weekly and daily in this game, who they are playing with, etc. Knowledge of trends in game play make the developer able to frequently update the social game and evaluate every update daily thanks to live data. When the profile of players is well defined, developers are able to introduce virtual goods and virtual currency, but it’s good to maintain that in a free-to-play model, it’s important to let buyers, potential buyers and non-buyers play together. Virtual pets were quoted like virtual economy-generating items because they generate other needed purchases like pet food, pet curtains, pet games, etc.

Monetization and payment solutions are also conditions to make a social game successful. Some mobile payments providers were present, like Zong, Dao Pay, or Payment One. One of the most important challenges for the future of the US Virtual Economy is the drop of mobile carrier’s fees.

The conclusions of the conferences were really positive, namely because the virtual industry is linked to technologic advances in portable, wireless devices such as Smartphones, low-price tablets and netbooks, and also because of the example of the Asian market which is more than 7 times bigger than the American market.

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