Another look at virtual vanity items…

I’ve covered this before, but this last weekend I was shocked into looking at it again… a little bit closer. Virtual Vanity Items:

  • Path of Exile – $12,500 for a Founder’s Pack or $1,000 for a virtual pet.  The game is free to play and I don’t see any serious “pay to win” components in their store, so they deserve a lot of credit.
  • Dungeons and Dragons Online – About $50 for a +5 stat tome.  Also free to play, plus ample opportunities to acquire Turbine Points to purchase cosmetics, consumables, expansion packs, extra character classes and more.
  • See five more big ticket vanity items at Cracked.com.

One can take a number of different positions on the pricing of vanity items.   Most of the scrutiny can be easily absolved in consideration of 1) free market principles, 2) segregating “vanity” from “pay to win”, and 3) providing alternative paths to a variety of vanity items.   The latter includes rewarding app users with “prized possessions” according to their level of participation.

The usefulness of Virtual Vanity Items is clearly an incentive in Crowdfunding.  Path of Exile noted they had over 240 people willing to pay a thousand dollars each for a customized piece of equipment.   That’s exceptional marketing on their behalf going hand in hand with creating a quality game as an alternative to Pay to Play competitors.   Thanks to those who do purchase vanity products, others are able to enjoy good games for free.  Developers need to remember that every player has a part in the success of their app.  An MMO without people is not an MMO.

I can’t help but feel that Virtual Vanity Items can be taken much further – and not necessarily focusing solely upon end-users.

Both fiction and non-fiction authors, movie directors, most businesses and mobile app (and software) developers are open to collaborating on content – in joint efforts or in an advertising or commission-based referral capacity.  Having virtual items that are important objects in books, movies, businesses, etc. enable both parties to expand their market and brand name awareness.   There is no preclusion to adding a URL or coupon code into the details of a virtual item, or sending in app mails, and otherwise.

Your main goal is to achieve compatibility, symmetry and sameness.  If you have a game where “food” plays a role, why not “brand it”?  It could be a burger, a pizza, a burrito, a bag of chips, a loaf of bread… whatever.  Not only could you brand it, you could offer coupons for it – all in the way of a B2B networking agreement.

One principle of metaphysics that applies directly to the Internet is that everything is interconnected.  A LINK IS A LINK – whether physical or virtual.  Consider that most companies add their company web site URL to most of their stationery, invoices, customer and business correspondence.  That’s as much a link as any other.

The critical barrier for any business to overcome is to have “something to sell” – a product of some sort.  That product does not necessarily need to be your own.  Consider that most companies hire their own marketing and sales teams – and frequently pay them commissions.   That’s the principle involved.

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Project Manager at the Opera Mobile Store providing Sales-Marketing support. Content development and research.

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