The use of virtual goods in a physical form is one of the most interesting (and profitable) monetization techniques that I have seen. By “physical virtual goods” (my term), I mean taking a virtual good that is normally sold through an in-app purchase and making it into a physical retail item that is used to unlock the virtual good inside the game (with no functionality for the physical product).
The Skylanders example
Activision’s Skylanders are the perfect example of this monetization strategy. Activison has two video games, Skylanders Giants and Skylanders Spyro’s Adventure, that sell at retail, just as you would purchase Call of Duty or Super Mario Bros. However, instead of selling downloadable content or offering upgrades through in-app purchases (depending on the platform), players must purchase Skylanders characters at retail, place them on a game-specific portal (a device that plugs into the game console) or enter a code that comes with the character (again, depending on the platform) to unlock the character in the game. Continue reading “Physical virtual goods”