Why do people buy virtual goods? Answers from three angles March 03 2012
What makes someone buy a virtual good? This is something I get asked a lot, and it's also a topic I did a lot of research on in the past. This post is inteded to serve as a brief summary for those who haven't bothered with this question before, or are perhaps just getting into the virtual goods business.
You can approach the answer to the virtual goods purchases question from three angles:
- Unique needs of different user segments. For example, your male twentysomething wants to attract the attention of an online crush (so he buys a virtual bottle of gift champagne), while your pre-teen male wants to feel like a big boy (so he buys a virtual samurai sword).
- Game mechanics. For example, if players get hooked on a Tamagochi-style virtual pet that needs to be fed regularly, then soon enough you will have players buying virtual pet food. Likewise a limited energy bar tends to create demand for recharges. More complex mechanics are also common.
- Attributes of virtual goods. Here the focus is on what's unique about a particular virtual good that makes it desirable. Why does one virtual samurai sword sell while the other doesn't? What different factors distinguish one item from another and how do you create a good lineup?