The idea that customers would pay for digital goods is one that, 20 years ago, seemed odd. Now, many estimates put the digital goods market at nearly $3 billion.
Estimates about digital goods
According to the Inside Virtual Goods report released by Inside Facebook this week, the digital goods market in the United States is expected to reach $2.9 billion by the end of 2012. The 2011 market will likely reach $2.2 billion, up from $1.6 billion in 2010. These numbers are based on the digital goods sold in social networks, mobile apps and multi-player games. Most of these payments are made via digital transfer and credit cards, often on credit cards that are stored for payment within a particular ecosystem, such as Facebook Credits, Playstation or Xbox live.
A maturing market
The estimation of the Inside Virtual Goods report is that the virtual goods and gaming market is maturing, and growth will likely slow in the coming years. A maturing market also means that customers are more familiar with the market, and are therefore more willing to spend their money with games, networks, and programmers that they trust. The maturing market also means that the programming and standards that run the industry are more settled, making it easier for new startups to get up and running.
Developing the market further
The digital goods market, currently, encompasses the games and digital goods that can be used with the games users play online. The digital goods market, however, extends far beyond the games on Facebook and computers. Customers are becoming much more comfortable with spending money online, especially in small amounts that qualify as micro-payments. For affiliates, a more mature digital goods market means that the marketing and information available as and for digital goods will also be maturing, providing additional ways to both market and develop customers.