The online gaming industry has exploded in recent years, with more and more players turning to the virtual world for entertainment. Within that environment, the development of material that is bought and sold through the course of playing the games has become big business. Virtual goods – the intangible items and services that are sold for actual money in a virtual game – have become a multi-billion dollar industry.

Virtual goods can be extra farming equipment, space stations, weaponry or other items that are used in the virtual gaming world. Often paid for by subscription to a gaming service, there may be small transaction fees that are paid to the

With transactions called micro transactions, the sale of these virtual goods can be handled instantaneously – allowing the purchaser to immediately begin using them. With price tags that can go up into the thousands, it begs the question of what can be done with toys, weapons and accessories that are carried off to private virtual worlds but have no actual representation in the real world. Other than bragging rights, what use is there in owning a virtual club?

For players of virtual games, the purchase of virtual goods is second nature. Easy, one-click purchasing and in-page ads create a culture where buying more accessories and extras is fast and easy. The growth of the virtual gaming industry indicates that the process of buying/selling virtual goods will not be slowing down anytime soon. Companies that wish to capitalize on the gaming industry’s ideas need to tap into the virtual goods market as well. Offering a virtual component of a product is an excellent way to create brand awareness and product usage.

Regardless of why the virtual goods are purchased, understanding the impact of these goods on the economy is essential in understanding the power of the internet.