Social Gaming & Not-So-Virtual Currency

I was just discussing virtual currency and the recent announcement from Zynga confirming the availability of their Game Cards with a colleague at 360i, and I got to thinking about the exponential growth of virtual currency and online/social gaming that’s finally coming to the United States.

While the worldwide explosion of both virtual currencies and social gaming is undeniable, I can’t help but wonder where all of this is going and if it’s bringing media and online content to a good place.

The Good
Social games have simply exploded. Zynga alone has over 235 million monthly active users (MAUs) playing its games; all of which (I believe) exists in Facebook. That is a lot of time spent playing, engaged and ready to view ads, purchase virtual gifts, or perform any number of monetize-able actions.

The future is bright. This year alone, virtual goods revenue in the United States is projected to hit $1.6 Billion and about half of that is supposed to come from social gaming publishers (Zynga, Digital Chocolate and others). For a business that barely existed a few years ago, this is astonishing growth. What’s more, we’re well behind Asia in virtual goods revenue (they’re at about $4 Bn in annual revenue now), so there is still :money on the table”.

The Questionable
Despite recent success getting pre-paid cards out into the world, monetization has been a slippery slope. The TechCrunch Scamville callout with regards to offer media was a pretty big shake-up (Zynga handled this extremely well).  As a professional who has purchased various performance media, some with virtual currencies involve, I can say that getting a user to sign up for a subscription service in exchange for virtual currency is simply a terrible idea for this reason: at the end of the day consumers aren’t considering the product’s value proposition when making the transaction, so they inherently will not value the product.  Also,  if 66% of players are women between 35-44, why do publishers need to resort to these performance tactics?  It seems that this demographic can be spoken to on a higher level.

Also, and this is about as unscientific as it gets, the experience of social gaming just isn’t that cool. I realize that sounds like a ridiculous criticism, but if an industry plans to offer real long-term value to consumers, it should really start by maintaining some level of user experience integrity. When you scroll through the top social games in the world, there are two game formats: the “Mafia Wars” experience, and the “Farmville” experience. That’s really about it. Every other game is a slight tweak on those basic formats (with the exception of online poker). I’m not much of a gamer, and I’m far from what anyone would consider an avid social gamer, but I believe that, from a marketing standpoint, the industry needs to expand it’s experience if it’s going to see growth beyond a core market.

If you’re interested in the development of the industry, I’m a fan of Inside Social Gaming and Games Beat


  1. Digital Chocolate’s new “NanoStar” virtual item platform is exactly meant to be a more valuable form of monetization to the end-user than traditional ones social gaming currently uses. With NanoStar characters, users purchase one time and can use across any of the games that Digital Chocolate has the support NanoStar characters. There are currently two games (NanoStar Castles and NanoStar Siege), and more may be added in the future. Its simple: Purchase once and use across games!

    1. Asus Socket 939 Barebone $ 239.99AMD Athlon 64 X2, Plus SLI PS X-Blaster Case.You’ll have plenty of power, plus the next-generation conoempnts you need to generate aggressive performance. In one affordable package, you’ll get the Asus A8N-SLI SE Socket 939 SLi-ready motherboard, an AMD Athlon 64 X2 3800+ processor, Ultra’s 600-watt X-Finity power supply with two (2) 80mm fans, and a black Ultra Xblaster Mid-Tower case. All for the most affordable price in the industry. This Asus Socket 939 barebone is ideal for gaming, multimedia, and complex business applications. Please see complete specifications and descriptions below. This Bundle Includes Ultra X-Blaster Black ATX Mid-Tower CaseWhen looking for subtle styling, durable quality and unparalleled ease of use, look no further than the Ultra X-Blaster. The X-Blaster supports AT, baby AT, ATX and micro ATX motherboards and features 1mm thick high grade steel. The X-Blaster has 10 drive bays. Four tool-free 5.25 drive bays, one external 3.5 bay and five internal 3.5 bays.- Form Factor: ATX Mid-Tower- Expansion Slots: 7- Material: Steel Asus A8N-SLI SE NVIDIA Socket 939 ATX MotherboardFeaturing AMD Cool n’ Quiet technology, up to 10 USB 2.0 ports, and a host of ASUS special features, this is a great board for those who want state of the art gaming or graphics machines.- Chipset: NVIDIA nForce4 SLI- Processor Interface: Socket 939- Front Side Bus: 1000MHz (2000 MT/s)Click Here For More Information! AMD Athlon 64 X2 3800+ 2.0GHz Dual-Core OEM Processor!Work or play with multiple programs without any stalling or waiting. Dual-core technology is like having two processors, and two working together is better and faster than one working alone. Do more in less time with the AMD Athlon 64 X2 dual-core processor.- Processor Speed: 64 3800+ / 2.0GHz- Processor Interface: Socket 939- Bus Speed: 1000MHz (2000 MT/s)Click Here For More Information! Ultra X-Finity 600-Watt SLI-Ready Power SupplyThe FlexForces’ incomparable cables are dressed in a great looking titanium silver finish. Specially engineered cable design promotes easy cable management and 30% better airflow than ordinary cables. Simply route cables under the motherboard, behind drive bays anywhere that gets typically unsightly power supply cables out of the way of airflow. Crafted to accommodate both AMD and Intel CPUs!Click Here For More Information! Specifications Form Factor: ATX Processor Speed: X2 3800+ / 2.00GHz Form Factor: ATX Mid-Tower Compatible Motherboards: ATX Micro ATX AT Baby AT Processor Interface: Socket 939 Processor Interface: Socket 939 Processors Supported: AMD Athlon 64 AMD Athlon 64 FX AMD Athlon 64 X2 Processor Class: Athlon 64 X2 Cache Size: 1MB L2 Side Panel Type: Vented, Quick-Release Additional Technologies: HyperTransport Technology AMD Cool n’ Quiet Front Side Bus: 1000MHz (2000 MT/s) 800MHz (1600 MT/s) Bus Speed: 1000MHz (2000 MT/s) Power Supply: Not Included Additional Technologies: 64-bit MMX Dual-Core SSE SSE2 SSE3 Enhanced 3DNow! NX bit AMD64 Cool’n’Quiet Material: Steel Architecture: 90 nm Stepping: E6 Special Features: Tool-Free Drive Bays Wattage: 89W Fan: Not Included External 5.25 Drive Bays: 4 Northbridge: nVIDIA nForce4 SLI External 3.5 Drive Bays: 1 Internal 3.5 Drive Bays: 5 Expansion Slots: 7 Front USB Ports: 2 Number of Slots: 4 Number of Pins: 184-Pin Front FireWire Ports: 1 Front Audio Ports: 2 Maximum Memory Supported: 4GB 32bit Memory Supported: DDR266 (PC2100) DDR333 (PC2700) DDR400 (PC3200) Dual Channel Supported Channels: 6 Channels Audio Chipset: Realtek ALC850 120mm Fan Ports: 2 120mm Fans Included: None Depth: 19.5 Width: 7.5 Height: 17 Supported Devices: 4 Hard Drive Types: UDMA/133 UDMA/100 USB Version: 2.0 USB Data Transfer Rates: 480Mbps PCI Slots: 3 PCI Express X1 Slots: 1 PCI Express X4 Slots: 1 PCI Express X16 Slots: 2 PS/2 Keyboard Connectors: 1 PS/2 Mouse Connectors: 1 Parallel Ports: 1 USB Ports: 10 LAN Ports: 1 Audio Out Jacks: 1 Line In Jacks: 1 Microphone Jacks: 1 IDE Headers: 2 FDD Headers: 1 Serial ATA Headers: 4 ATX Power Connectors: 1 24-Pin Connector PC Power Connectors: 1 4 Pin Fan Connectors: 1 x Power 1 x CPU 2 x Chassis S/PDIF Connectors: 1 Coaxial Length: 12.000 in. (30.48 cm) Width: 9.600 in. (24.5 cm) Read More >

Leave a Comment

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s