The latest Harvard Business Review has an article by Edward Castronova from Indiana University (HBR article here – requires subscription) talking about the market for virtual goods in virtual worlds – so, say you want to acquire a breastplate for a medieval online game and its too hard to get in the game, you go on eBay and pay hard cash for it.
According to the article – that market in the US only is estimated to be $30M/yr. In Asia $100M/yr. Some estimates go as high as $887M. That’s for virtual goods in virtual worlds!
The article further posits that the best opportunity for marketers to sell real goods through these worlds (after all, you have to go where your customers go) is by doing product placements. But you got to do it right – “Coke placements in King Camelot would likely be socially transmuted into marks of shame or re-skinned as urinary aids”.
I love it…how about buying the right to set up shop in those worlds? Now you could have a “real” virtual sales and marketing department!