Welcome to the Virtual Goods News Wrap-Up for the week of February 19, 2010. 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.
Blizzard donated $1.1 million to the Make-A-Wish foundation, with the funds raised as part of the sales of a charity virtual item to World of Warcraft players. Blizzard stated that it would donate $5 to the foundation for every $10 Pandaren Monk pet purchased. Math suggests Blizzard sold about 220,000 Pandaren Monks.
Quick eyes at the Inside Network have noticed that a special area of Facebook's new Games dashboard is reserved for spotlighting games that only accept Facebook Credits for payments. Right now, that means the area is heavily promoting Crowdstar's Happy Aquarium, Happy Island, and Happy Pets games.
Microsoft's freemium racing game featuring Xbox Live avatars was supposed to launch in 2009, but was quietly pushed back. A company spokesperson has confirmed that the game will release in 2010, though no date was specified.
LiveGamer is devoting an entire day of the GDC developers' conference to a special track covering virtual goods business models and games-as-a-service.
EVE Online's players have managed to raise $40,000 for Haiti disaster relief through sale of the PLEX items that players can otherwise use to pay for a month's subscription to the game. This is an impressive sum given EVE Online's relatively small playerbase.
PlayFirst's latest entry in the casual Diner Dash game series features both Facebook Connect and a novel Facebook virtual gift scheme. Players of the game can unlock special pairs of shoes while advancing and then give them to friends. If they begin playing with the shoe gift in their Facebook account, they will receive in-game bonuses.
According to a recent survey funded by PopCap Games, 24% of consumers play social games on Facebook and MySpace regularly. The average social gamer is a 43-year-old woman. Over 53% of those PopCap surveyed had earned or spent virtual currency in a game. Only 28% had spent real money on virtual currency and only 32% had purchased virtual gifts.
Social Gold parent Jambool has stated that 56% of those who make a purchase through Social Gold return later to make a second purchase. More than two purchases are made by 25% of Social Gold customers.
LucasArts has opened a storefront in the PlayStation Home virtual world, selling users Star Wars and Indiana Jones-themed goods. Lightsabers, Indiana Jones costumes, and even full Stormtrooper outfits for Home avatars are currently up for sale.
Zong's credit-card based service, Zong+, is taking off in Aeria's free-to-play MMORPGs. Roughly 32% of all Zong purchases made through Aeria are made through Zong+. The service has an advantage over traditional mobile pay by tethering the user's phone number to a credit card, which reduces the transaction fees associated with the purchase.