This particular article on cnn.com caught my attention being that I am an avid Facebook participant and have seen many people get lost in these online addictions. I am sure that most of you are familiar with the many online games accessible through such networking sites as Facebook. This includes everything from Farmville to Mafia Wars to Frontier Neighbor to SuperPoke Pets and I could go on and on and on. Some people only acquire a slight addiction but do not get financially involved. According to the article though, between ten and fifteen percent of players pay in order to enhance the gaming experience. What is interesting about that somewhat low percentage is that, again according to the article, those pay-to-play users will more than make up for those who do not pay, even several times over. These micro-transactions consist of gamers putting out a few dollars at a time to buy credits for extra toys for your SuperPoke Pets or equipment to farm your vegetables on Farmville. But what people may not realize at the time is that it will add up. In fact, the gaming industry sells $2 billion in virtual goods a year.
Besides enhancing the experience, players also find that the competitive element of the game drives them to invest in additional perceived values by purchasing virtual goods. And since we are all aware that the individuals running these games are smarter than the average bear, they have linked these virtual currency structures to other extraneous marketing methods. “For example, Kabam had a very successful program around Mother's Day where they awarded game credits to players for buying flowers”. And why not use other avenues to boost revenue in non-gaming related markets?
So as the following statement solidifies fairly well, you don’t really need that garden gnome on your farm or that extra ammunition for your mafia gang, they are just using clever marketing to convince you that you do.
Somehow, over the last ten years, amidst all of the media's deliberations of how to — or whether they even should — get readers to pay for online content, online gaming came along and convinced people to pay a little bit at a time for items that they didn't even need and could, if they just kept playing the game long enough, otherwise have earned for free.