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Social gaming powerhouse Zynga has built a business potentially worth north of a billion dollars. And it doesn't sell anything. Real, that is.
By some estimates, the company will reportedly pulls in over half a billion dollars in revenue this year selling virtual goods, such as virtual tractors and furniture, that are used in social games that are played by hundreds of millions of people each month on social networks like Facebook.
Despite the controversy over the use of CPA offers in the virtual goods market, the business of offers continues to grow.
In an effort to innovate and differentiate itself, relative newcomer gWallet is combining offers with online video. With success, it claims.
2010 is here. Plenty have made specific predictions about what you can expect this year. Predictions are fun, but sometimes knowing which markets to look at is a better approach.
With that in mind, here are five of the markets you might want to track in 2010.
Social networking giant Facebook is reportedly going to pull in approximately half a billion dollars this year in advertising revenue. It's a significant amount, but hundreds of millions of dollars more are being made on Facebook through virtual currency transactions that Facebook has no part of.
Facebook, of course, has its own official virtual currency, Credits, but most Facebook app developers can't integrate them with their apps, and are not required to use them.
The market for virtual goods, and the CPA offers that many consumers complete to purchase them, is under attack. The first salvo was fired by TechCrunch's Michael Arrington and the battle has now spread to the mainstream media.
The fallout was quick. And it continues: after being the target of no less than six TechCrunch posts in the past week relating to these 'scam' offers, Zynga, one of the most prominent companies in the space, has removed all of its CPA (lead gen) offers while it seeks to work with the third party networks that provide them to root out the types of offers that have come under fire.
The app economy generates big bucks for Facebook's most prolific developers. Thanks in large part to virtual goods, the companies which develop some of Facebook's most popular apps are reportedly pulling in over $100m/year individually.
But what's good for Facebook's app developers isn't necessarily good for Facebook's users. App developers are understandably willing to go as far as Facebook will allow them to in their quest to acquire more users and generate more revenue.
If you had to guess what the most popular Facebook app on Facebook is, chances are you're not thinking that it has anything to do with fruits, vegetables and cows. But you'd be very wrong. What is the most popular app on Facebook? FarmVille.
As the name suggests, FarmVille is a game that gives users the ability to "grow delicious fruits and vegetables and raise adorable animals" on their own virtual farms. With nearly 35m active monthly users and 12m active daily users, FarmVille has just about grown itself into the most popular Facebook application ever. When FarmVille surpasses 35,554,755 active monthly users, it will surpass the record set by the How Well Do You Know Me? application.
Consumers don't like paying for anything online. This is especially true when it comes to younger consumers. Common knowledge, right?
Wrong. Just ask myYearbook, a second-tier social network that caters primarily to teens. It has managed to do something many other social networks haven't: turn a profit. And it's done it by charging its supposedly frugal Gen Y users.
If you're a virtual currency millionaire in China, some potentially bad news: you won't be able to use that virtual dough to purchase goods and services in the real-world.
In an effort to stave off the ills of virtual currency gone awry, the Ministry of Culture and the Ministry of Commerce jointly announced rules that lay out the ground rules for China's virtual economy.