News, research and discussion on virtual goods, currencies and economies globally.

Update on Chinese Gold Farming

The following represents some notes and comments building on my earlier research report on gold farming. It draws mainly from a couple of interviews kindly given by Anthony Gilmore, who has been filming in China for his forthcoming documentary, Play Money: Also from Rowenna Davis' earlier article that interviewed both myself and Anthony.   Read more

ARPUs in social networks and social games: An acronym that needs scrutiny

How do you monetize social networks and social games? Similar to the online games space, there is a growing consensus that the answer is by complementing advertising with a virtual goods micro-transaction business model. Social networks and start-ups are positioning themselves accordingly. Hi5 has announced its own virtual currency. Facebook is now implementing “credits” and MySpace seems to be working on their own payments platform.  Read more

Plus Eight Star: Asian Virtual Goods Market 5 billion USD

+8* - Plus Eight Star, a consultancy firm, has posted a well-reasoned guestimate of the size of the virtual goods market in China, Korea and Japan: 5 billion USD! Contrast this with our guestimate in 2007 that the global virtual goods market was worth 2.1 billion USD. Some other estimates and revenue figures can be found here.  Read more

New contributors and guests at the VERN blog

Taiyoung Ryu's Love CatchWe are happy to welcome two new regular contributors to the VERN blog: Taiyoung Ryu and Juha Tolvanen. Welcome!

Taiyoung Ryu is doing research on the design of micro-transaction business models, especially virtual goods, as a graduate student at the Interactive Media Division at University of Southern California USC. He has presented at GDC and DiGRA, and his advice for developers has been published in the Game Developer Magazine. Before joining USC, Taiyoung had a successful career as a game designer in the Korean game industry and is credited as Lead Designer in six titles, including mobile, casual online and online FPS (see video below).  Read more

Virtual Economy at GDC2009

Game Developers Conference 2009 took place at Moscone Center in San Francisco USA in March 23. One of important keywords from this year’s Game Developer Conference is digital distribution of video games. So, many sessions dealt with issues related to digital distribution like virtual economy models, new revenue models for casual games distributed via console networks including PSN, XBLA. In addition, virtual goods trades and how to make more money through various new distribution methods were focused by a number of sessions.   Read more

Guest article: Are secondary markets profitable for item sales based businesses?

The question whether secondary markets limit the profits of a monopolistic seller has generated a lot of controversy over the years. The “conventional wisdom” is that secondary markets eat manufacturer profits because used goods create competition for new goods by acting as close substitutes. Instead of buying a new good, consumers can choose to buy used goods instead; especially so if they offer better value in terms of price. However, it has also been shown that secondary markets have other implications as well and therefore the conditions under which secondary markets are detrimental to the profits of a monopolistic supplier are subject to debate. In this essay, I will review some of the previous microeconomical work on secondary markets and then seek to determine how their results apply the context of virtual asset markets. The key question would be “how do secondary markets affect primary market profits?”  Read more

CFP: JVWR - Virtual Worlds: Technology, Economy, and Standards

Journal of Virtual World Research announced yesterday a CFP covering themes of technology, economy and standards. Additionally, there are two forthcoming CFPs in JVWR's calendar, concerned with research methods for virtual worlds, and government related issues.


CALL FOR PAPERS - Journal of Virtual Worlds Research - Vol 2 issue 3.

Theme: Virtual Worlds: Technology, Economy, and Standards

In this special issue we are looking to examine the often hidden relations between technology, economy, and standards in the specific field of Virtual Worlds.


Abstract or expression of interest (one page) – Monday, March 30, 2009

Full manuscript - September 1, 2009

Publication Date: October 1, 2009

The call in its entirerity can be found here.   Read more

Bibliography upgrade

The bibliography of the Virtual Economy Research Network has been the most prominent library of scholarly papers covering the issues of virtual asset sales, secondary markets, virtual economies, as well as laws and regulations related to them.

…Well, the bibliography just got even better!   Read more

We upgraded to biblio module to better facilitate handling of reference data of publications, as well as to enable integration to reference softwares such as Endnote or Zotero. It is now possible to export publication data with a single click to reference managers. While the old system only allowed input of basic information, the new system supports the whole array of possible specified reference data. These new features are available for registered users.

Korean online game portals report record-breaking sales in 2008

At the beginning of February, South Korean news reports said, nevertheless the global recession, Korean online game portals announced that their yearly sales were highest ever in the South Korean game market in 2008. While all most all big game publishers in the global game industry including EA, Activision-Blizzard, THQ, SCE, MS are facing a huge amount of loss and planning large-scale layoffs, South Korean online game portals including Neowiz Games, CJ Internet, Hangame are celebrating their incredibly successful sales records.