When your holiday shopping, have you ever considered a virtual gifts? These items can’t be held, touched, smelled, although they can be posted on web pages, such as Facebook or used in virtual worlds, such as Second Life. The only thing real about these virtual presents is the fact that they cost actual money. And despite the idea of paying something for nothing, virtual gifts are a hot commodity. Users are shelling out millions of dollars for the privilege of giving virtual gifts. People are becoming more open to buying things that don’t really exist.
On Facebook, for example, virtual gifts take the form of cutesy icons that are posted in a gifts section of a person’s profile. Gifts can range from a pair of shoes to a virtual beer. Since February, Facebook users have pay more than 24 million dollars for these virtual gifts. Why? Gift items are seen as a badge of honor, as a statement of how popular or how well-liked or loved you might be. It is a way of gaining social status on social networking sites. If you have an icon of a champagne bottle, it says a lot about you as a person.
And the novelty of such gifts helps drive the business. Remember virtual cards? When is the last time you received one, especially one that was bought and paid for? Virtual gifts are the new hip thing.
On a network such as Second Life, where users create avatars that walk around living a virtual life, gift certificates are very popular. You can gift someone on Second Life with $30 of real money, which in turn, their avatar can use to buy everything from clothes to furniture at one of the many virtual shops.
Experts in the industry site the easy of giving virtual gifts as another incentive. There is no tax or shipping and delivery issues to contend with when giving a virtual gift.
Critics of virtual gift buying say that it is a waste of money that might better be spent on a charitable cause.
What do you think?
Mary Ann Romans writes about everything related to saving money in the Frugal Blog, technology in the Computing Blog, and creating a home in the Home Blog. You can read more of her articles by clicking here.