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Virtual Goods

The term Virtual Goods refer to a series of virtual items existing within a game environment, a social network or a virtual world. Virtual items have a graphical manifestation, sometimes accompanied by a set of game benefits.
Virtual Items are not only the catalysts for any game-as-a-service title but also serve as the main business aspect for such experiences. Such games are largely driven by the various social interactions that can be achieved through Virtual goods.

Vanity Items 
A large percent of virtual items within social games are referred to as Vanity Items. These items have no game effect beside the appealing visual enhancement they offer to the user‟s Avatar (graphical character representing the user within the game world) or a certain ambient (user‟s virtual living–quarters).
Examples for Avatar-related Vanity Items:

Examples for Character-related Vanity Items
  • Clothware; shirts, shoes, scarves, coats, armour, suits, etc
  • Personal Props; scarves, eye-glasses, hats, wrist-watches,
  • Body Enhanecments; tattoos, unique skin color, wings, fangs, horns, etc
  • Animated gestures (applied to the player‟s Avatar); dancing, laughing, kissing, etc

Examples for Ambient-related Vanity Items
  • Buildings; foundry, warehouse, hotel, inn, shop, greenhouse, etc
  • Furniture; chairs, sofas, carpets, wall-paper, bath tub, etc
  • Props; bell, grandfather clock, fences, decoration, etc
  • Appliances; TV, refrigerator, Plasma screen, etc
  • Vegetation; plants, trees, crops, etc.
  • Seasonal Effects; snow, rain, winds, etc.
  • Animals; sheep, mules, horses, geese, etc.

Utility Items
A Utility virtual item has a direct effect on gameplay (beside its visual manifestation). In many games, the more powerful a utility item is, the more appealing it will be visually (hence, also has a strong vanity factor).
Utility items affect the game in various ways, depending on the game in question and the given game dynamic. Some of the most prominent examples are:
  • Increase Damage / Generate Instant Damage
  • Instant XP Bonus / Temporary Increase in XP accumulation
  • Instant Virtual currency bonus / Temporary Increase in Currency accumulation
  • Deflect/Reduce Sustained Damage
  • Increase Movement Speed
  • Increase Attribute Regeneration Speed  / Instant Attribute Regeneration
  • Increase Attribute (Permanently/Temporarily)
  • Unlock New Environenet/Level/Purchasable Items/Objectives (Quest)
  • Complete Collection

Pre-Requisite Items
Requisite Items are virtual Items that may or not have a Utility/Vanity factor, but are needed in order to access a certain game experience (Quest, Level, Objective, Battle, etc). Pre-Requisite Items are “Keys”; they offer access to locked game content.

Usage: Games use Pre-Requisite Items as a main exit-source for virtual currency, requiring players to spend their virtual currency on such items (or play more often to gain the required virtual currency to buy the pre-requisite item). Pre-requisite items have become in fact one of the main currency-channels in gaming and are widely known in games such as Mafia wars, Castle Age and similar Role Playing Games.

Consumables are Utility Items that expire after a single usage or a given time frame and are one of the major trends in the gaming landscape.

Effect: Most Consumables regenerate lost attributes (Health, Energy, Stamina, etc) or boost the player's gameplay for a given timeframe (Attack, Defense, Speed, etc). If the consumable is a weapon-like item (e.g. – Grenade) it can also amplify damage or generate instant damage to an enemy.

Business: Consumables are widely known as ingame items (found during the game), but due to their popularity they became virtual goods during 2009-2011. Consumables are sold in bundles, including 5-100 items of the same kind. Due to their wise usage, consumables are regarded as a “wise investment”. Leveraging the Random Gift (See: Gifting), Consumables are also sold in Random Bundles/Packages that include a random variety of consumables.

Examples: Consumables include a wide range of items. Most popular examples: Potions, Elixirs, Recharges, Medical Kits, Vaccines, Drugs, Grenades, Bombs, Dynamite, Cigarettes, Special bullets, etc.

Pets are one of the most popular virtual items in the gaming experience. A pet is an animated Avatar that follows the user‟s Avatar and assists him in various situations (combat, crafting, etc). The Pet combines the concentrated aspect of both utility and vanity items, as it is viewable by other players and affects game play in a unique manner. Several typologies under this category:

  • Riding Beasts; These Pets drastically increase the players movement speed, while offering combative abilities (in such games that offer combat action). e.g. - Tiger, Bear, Horse, etc.
  • Combat Pets; These pets are highly efficient in combat-like situations. e.g. – Eagle, Puma, Grizzli Bear, etc.
  • Carrier Pets; These pets are enabled to carry a massive amount of weight, hence offering the player additional inventory slots in which he can store items. e.g. – Mule, Donkey, Camel, Elephant, Horse, etc.
  • Vanity Pets; These pets have an impressive visual aspect and are usually highly animated to provide a true vanity item to the player. e.g. – Cat, Dog, Parrot, etc.

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