Welcome to the
Virtual Goods News Wrap-Up for the week of April 17, 2009. The Wrap-Up
is where VGN spotlights stories that we didn't get to cover
individually, but still make for interesting reading about the virtual
goods industry.

ARPUs In Social Networks And Social Games: An Acronym That Needs Scrutiny

VERN tackles the question of what ARPU really says about a platform's ability to monetize through microtransactions, since different methods can be used to calculate the figure and the figure will mean different things to different types of platform. VERN suggests some new standard definitions for ARPU that could be very useful.

Battlefield Heroes Open Beta Test Coming This Summer

It looks like returning the game to closed beta status has paid off for EA, as today the company announced Battlefield Heroes would be in open beta again this summer. EA is currently claiming its free-to-play title will be out before the end of 2009, but a target that vague suggests a certain amount of uncertainty about the game's state.

Being Dead Is No Reason To Give Up Your Online Social Life

The next project for Numedeon's departed COO Jay Goss has finally surfaced: EternalSpace.com, where users can build virtual cemeteries online for a departed loved one. Virtual memories online are nothing new, but EternalSpace's monetization scheme of selling virtual items for real money so memorial visitors can decorate the virtual grave sites is highly unusual to say the least.  

Blizzard Cuts Ties With The9

This week Blizzard announced that The9 would no longer be the publisher of the World of Warcraft games in China. Instead Blizzard is handling the franchise– and responsibility for getting the troubled Wrath of the Lich King expansion past government censors– to rival publisher NetEase. While The9 publishes many free-to-play titles of its own in China, World of Warcraft was its most profitable game by far.

Facebook Rejects Funding At $4 Billion Valuation, May Not Raise More

Facebook's quest for funding has hit a bit of a brick wall, as it rejected two offers that valued the company at $2 billion. Facebook values itself internally at $4 billion, but may have also rejected an offer at that valuation. 

Game Developers Find Ways To Make Industry Recession-Proof

Cory Doctorow weighs in on the virtual goods model of monetizing games and finds it both desirable and comparable to the way the Creative Commons license encourages content creators to monetize their work: have a free version for time-rich cheapskates and something that money-rich but time-short adults can buy.

Girl Wars: iMob Swaps Its Guns For High Heels

With the mafia theme of the "mafia game" social subgenre drawing lawsuits, it's not surprise that iMob creator Addmired is now trying to issue mafia games without the mafia. Girl Wars uses a stereotypical female-friendly emphasis on fashion and shopping while other mafia game clones like iVampires use a supernatural theme. 

Interview With Martin Herdina And Dan Taylor Of Fatfoogoo

Fatfoogoo explains its services and revenue model to Got Game and touch on some interesting facts in the process, like the shape of the microtransaction market in Europe and how fatfoogoo helps developers manage fraud and chargeback.

LOGIN Conference Explores Controversial Issues With Formal Debates 

Notable because a few of the debates are going to be about the role of virtual goods in gaming. "Secondary Markets" will feature fatfoogoo CEO Martin Herdina debating EEDAR President Geoffrey Zatkin about user-to-user sales of virtual game items. "Virtual Property Ownership" features GoPets CEO Erik Bethke debating GM Online Services of Exponential Entertainment EVP Jon Grande. 

Media Should Focus On Subscriptions Rather Than Transactions

Seeking Alpha looks at whether or not charging microtransactions for access to particular news content would help news organizations survive the current economic downturn. The answer for now is "no," because users tend to perceive information as a service rather than as an item. This is an interesting insight into the psychology of microtransaction spending.

More On The Free Realms Trading Card Game

Today SOE revealed new information about the CCG set to debut alongside its free-to-play MMORPG Free Realms. Notably a digital version of the game that lets people buy virtual cards for real money and duel other players online is going to be made available, courtesy of SOE Denver (who also develop SOE's Legends of Norrath virtual CCG game).

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