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Virtual Worlds Provide Revenue For Games Publishers, Business and Industry Trends Analysis

Gaming has created entirely new ways of making money.  Multi-player games (known as massively multiplayer online role-playing games or MMORPGs) have sparked a market in which players broker deals to buy and sell game currency, point-building online items and even players’ online personas, which are called avatars.  Gamers looking to cash in on the booming popularity of these games are finding ways to buy and sell virtual assets for real currency.  It is not uncommon for an avid game player to spend $200 or $300 monthly on game avatars and accessories.
The practice of virtual world commerce raises some sticky questions, however, about the true ownership of cyber-assets.  Some game companies maintain that all currency, points, avatars and other assets are their property and not that of its players.  Others disagree.  As greater and greater sums are being made from virtual asset brokerage, the question becomes more important.  Is a game company liable to its players for their cyber-assets, should it discontinue the game or alter its rules?

An NFT (non-fungible token) is a unit of data stored on a blockchain, or digital ledger of transactions (similar to the digital ledgers that register cryptocurrencies such as bitcoin).  NFTs are certified as unique and subsequently are not interchangeable.  They are used to represent digital files including photos, videos and audio.  Some are very valuable, such as the digital collage by Beeple which was sold at Christie’s for $69.3 million in early 2021.  NFTs are also used to trade assets from video games for cryptocurrency.  For example, electronic game players can buy digital deeds for real estate as NFTs, which certifies the authenticity of the gamer’s digital asset.  As more players join the game, the deeds hopefully appreciate in value as game real estate becomes more and more scarce.  Meanwhile, the slowly expanding, enhanced digital experience called the Metaverse is offering many new ways to generate revenue for game companies and virtual world operators.  At the same time, rapid advancements in virtual reality (VR) headsets are boosting user engagement in virtual worlds and immersion games.

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