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

Social games developer estimates size of U.S. virtual goods market at $200 million

Charles Hudson over at his blog posted an estimate of the virtual goods market size in the United States.

More links to such estimates can be found here at VERN forum. Feel free to add your links.

Quicklinks: Taxes, Blogs, Patents, Lawsuits and More

Virtually Blind periodically runs “quicklinks” — items that are not long enough for a full story, but are worth a click. Here’s the current batch.  Read more

Habbo introduces a dual currency virtual economy model (updated with pictures)

Bubbles, a "rental"Bubbles, a "rental"Sulka Haro, Lead Concept Designer of Habbo, informs us that Sulake is introducing a dual currency virtual economy model for Habbo:

As of today, Habbo is a dual currency economy. Credits are bought and used to purchase persistent value, and you can earn Pixels by doing Achievements and just hanging around online. We're piloting the change in UK, and if it's working fine, the other countries will get it at some point in the future (as usual).

More details and screenshots below.  Read more

Follow-up: 20% Tax Rate on Virtual Currency Brokering in China?

We reported earlier about the 20% tax rate legislation on virtual currency transactions in China. Shanghai Daily has now published an article concerning this legislation and about the fall-out that followed.


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Well That Was Quick

Google Lively

So in 2009, Google Lively will be Google Dead-As-A-Doornaily

We never got too excited about Lively's current form around here.  I was always confused about how it aligned with Google's core business. Still it's too bad to see the big G moving out of this space and admitting defeat. More news via Google.  A brief post-mortem after the fold.  Read more

New peer-reviewed papers on commerce and consumption in virtual worlds

Journal of Virtual Worlds Research, an online journal that started this year, has just published its second number, titled Consumer Behavior in Virtual Worlds. Also, the Journal of Electronic Commerce Research, a more established online publication, has published a special issue on virtual worlds. Most of the articles from these two publications fall into the familiar group of Second Life -based qualitative studies and essays. There are also a couple of surveys. Below, I briefly introduce four of the papers that touch on VERN's topic areas.  Read more

Sellers' liability? Nexon to buy back virtual items in a game due for shutdown

According to Korea Times, MMO publisher Nexon "is preparing to repay users who own paid items" in ZerA, an unsuccessful Korean MMO that is due to be closed in January. The game was launched in 2006 and peaked at 40 000 concurrent users. According to Korea Times, ZerA took three years and 10 billion won (approx. 7.5 M USD) to develop. Plans to launch in Japan were dropped after lukewarm reception in Korea.  Read more

Three Rings launches Whirled

We rarely blog about new games and services, but I will make an exception since Whirled by Three Rings seems to be an intriguing concept, design and research -wise.   Read more

"Whirled is an in-browser virtual world that is open to player creations and customizations; anything can be uploaded to the Whirled, from simple image furniture to mini-MMO games. Sophisticated avatars, pets, toys and games are coded to Whirled's Flash ActionScript APIs, which support multi-player games with arbitrary numbers of players driven by client or server-side code."

20% Tax Rate on Virtual Currency Brokering in China?

"The State Administration of Taxation said on its Web site Wednesday (in Chinese) that China will impose a personal income tax of 20% on profit from virtual money. The announcement, which was distributed to local tax bureaus, specifically takes aim at those who buy virtual currency from gamers and surfers and sell it to others at a mark-up. Taxation officials are granted the right to determine the original price of online virtual currency if the individual fails to provide proof of an original price, it says."- Juliet Ye @ WSJ's China Journal   Read more

CCP publishes a new economic newsletter

Dr. Eyjólfur Guðmundsson, the economist from CCP, HIIT's partner in virtual economy research, has published one more Quarterly Economic Newsletter (QEN) for EVE Online. The latest issue deals with Q1/2008 and can be found here (the previous ones are Q3/2007 and Q4/2007). The latest issue includes updates to some of the indices that have been published in the past.  Read more