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IMVU founder’s framework for digital goods: three key questions October 20, 2008

Posted by jeremyliew in digital goods, game design, game mechanics, games, games 2.0, mmorpg, virtual goods, virtual worlds.

Eric Reis, one of the co-founders of IMVU, posted last week on the three key decisions you have to make when thinking about virtual goods business models:

UGC or First Party content?

First Party – more control, but higher costs and harder to anticipate what users will want

UGC – Massive breadth of content, but have to put systems in place to deal with adult content and copyrighted content

Subscription or a la Carte payments?

Subscriptions – Greater game balance between rich and less rich players, lower fraud rates

A La Carte – Easier to monetize players without credit cards (e.g. teens)

Merchandising or Gameplay?

Gameplay – Virtual goods are functional, part of the core game mechanics, and confer benefit in the game. Demand is driven by game mechanics alone, and requires a delicate balance to ensure that players with money do not always beat players with time, skill and passion.

Merchandising – Virtual goods are not just functional, but also associated with self expression or attention in a noisy environment (see my previous post on the three use cases for virtual goods). This creates potential for greater demand for virtual goods, but requires the creation of a marketing and merchandising capability in the company.

Reis believes this framework can be used to describe any virtual goods business:

You can use these three questions to analyze existing businesses. For example, IMVU is a user-generated, a la carte, merchandising product. Habbo is first-party, a la carte, merchandising. Mob Wars is first-party, a la carte, gameplay. WoW is first-party, subscription, gameplay.

Read the whole thing.


1. Adam - October 22, 2008

I would add that a consideration for UGC is always be conscience of Brand Hijack, your users may steer you in a direction you may not be comfortable with. It’s important to understand that can be good and bad, and is part of giving up editorial control.

2. IMVU inc. SUCKS! - January 8, 2010

Report the truth about the Corperate American Scam that is IMVU inc.!

To find the truth about IMVU inc., enter “IMVU” into search engines and read the reviews on review sites and the comments that follow official IMVU inc. generated reports on other sites to learn about the shady dealings of IMVU inc.! Try “IMVU review” and “IMVU SUCKS”! Read reports about how IMVU inc. purchased their current rating with the BBB, what the current CEO is doing to the company, how many spent thousands of dollars only to have accounts disabled for errant reasons or no reason at all and some times not by imvu but by entities outside imvu, and how customer service to resolve any issues simply does not exist. IMVU inc. is using agents to spy on those sites in an attempt to cover up the truth about the company by causing some public reports to be deleted, which is a reason to keep posting and reposting reports.

IMVU made the mistake of doing an intrview on USATODAY.com which is easily found by searching on “IMVU”, then broadcasting the fact to all accounts on IMVU. Read the comments that follow. Major news medias will soon be resarching IMVU inc. and reporting the truth about the scam that shady company is running.

IMVU inc. must be disabled ASAP! The truth about IMVU inc. should be spread like wildfire to warn everyone in the public not to waste any real money on this Corperate American Scam!

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