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BRITS are spending more than £500million a year on online goods that don't exist.

Shoppers are buying virtual gifts on social networking and dating sites, web pictures and weapons for games costing up to £20 each.

The new industry is set to be worth £3BILLION this year. Three quarters of money made is on games - as players buy goods to advance further.

One called Playdom sold £123,000 of images of pink Volkswagen Beetles in two days on MySpace. Brits spend £2million a month on World of Warcraft weapons.

Gaming expert Stuart Miles said: "People are happy to buy virtual gifts as they don't see them as being virtual anymore." The most successful virtual goods firm is Zynga, whose FarmVille application on Facebook has 56million users buying virtual animals and equipment. The San Francisco firm made £91.4million in 2009.

FarmVille also raises funds for charity - and has made more than £525,000 for victims of the Haiti earthquake by selling special online seeds.

Facebook users buy virtual flowers, beers and birthday cake for around 60p each.

Web payment system PayPal is even considering creating a digital currency to buy the products.

Net payment expert Scott Loftesness warns some users are "addicts".


Gamers in India and China have even set up "factories" where staff play online for up to 16 hours a day to win gaming goods - which are sold on for real money.

Read more: http://www.thesun.co.uk/sol/homepage/news/2811868/Brits-spend-500m-on-virtual-web-gifts-like-weapons-for-games.html#ixzz0cxbytp4N

Would you buy a virtual gift and if yes - why ? :confused:

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Does buying maps on XBox Live for games count as 'virtual gifts'?

Because I've bought a couple of them but I'd never pay money for what is basically just a picture. It's ridiculous.

These businessmen are good though. Selling people pictures means they can probably sell sand to the arabs or ice to the eskimos.

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