While GameStop's holiday sales were somewhat disappointing, the industry continues to see a rise in digital goods. Thanks to the rise of social and casual gaming, one area of the digital business that's seen a fair amount of growth is virtual gift giving. Ironically, while traditional video games require hefty marketing budgets, these digital titles and micro-transactions require little thanks to their viral nature.
PlaySpan, which specializes in monetization solutions for online games, virtual worlds, and social networks, conducted a study with the help of Frank N. Magid Associates and VGMarket, and found that Americans gave an estimated $30 million in virtual gifts this past holiday season. The report, Inside Virtual Goods: Tracking the US Virtual Goods Market 2009-2010, forecasts the digital goods business in the U.S. to be worth $1 billion in 2009.