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Consumers have Spent $7 Billion on Virtual Goods

The development and ongoing adoption of social networking sites and the increasing use of feature-rich mobile smartphones have recently brought online gaming to the mainstream consumer market.

The rise of the virtual goods revenue model, which allows people to play for free and later pay for individual items within the online game or virtual world, has also contributed to explosive revenue growth of this market.

In-Stat now forecasts that by the end of 2010, over $7 billion will have been spent on virtual goods.

"Traditionally computer games have been the realm of teenage boys. However, social networking and pervasive smartphones are driving gaming beyond this core base," says Vahid Dejwakh, Industry Analyst at In-Stat.

Before, the gamer had to go and specifically find games he or she wanted to play, but now games are delivered via your social networking profile and your mobile phone.

In-Stat's latest market study findings include:

- The top 10 virtual goods companies earn 73 percent of current worldwide revenues.

- The emergence of social and casual games on social networking sites and mobile phones has created a 2D virtual goods market that exceeds $2 billion.

- The Americas and EMEA regions now have grown to account for well over a quarter of all virtual goods sales. However, Asia-Pacific still dominates the global market.

- In-Stat forecasts total virtual goods revenues will more than double by 2014.

- Several legal and tax issues could impact the virtual goods market, creating both risk and opportunity.

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