PlaySpan: $30 Million Spent On Virtual Gifts Over Holiday Season

Should we be considering virtual goods when evaluating online holiday spending? We’ve seen that e-commerce spending over the holidays was strong, with consumers shelling out nearly $30 billion over a period of a few months. Now, virtual goods platform PlaySpan reports that digital goods have seen a similar, if smaller trend, with Americans spending $30 million on virtual gifts in November and December of 2009.

It’s no surprise that the digital goods world saw strong sales over the past year; the business was projected to make $1 billion in 2009. And as virtual goods are booming, various startups have emerged to capitalize on this growth by facilitating the exchange around these goods.

PlaySpan powers micro-payments across over 1,000 video games and virtual worlds and has virtual goods storefronts on Facebook, MySpace, within games and on its standalone site. PlaySpan’s research found that one in five of its digital goods buyers also gave virtual gifts. And about 15% of all virtual gift giving occurred during the November and December months. PlaySpan also found that nearly 1 in 12 Americans purchased a digital good in 2009, with the average price of a virtual gift estimated around $3 per transaction.

PlaySpan itself seems to be doing well in the space. The startup just struck a deal with Nickelodeon to power the media company’s virtual worlds’ currency, called NeoCash, across multiple payment providers including credit cards and prepaid cards. Last year, PlaySpan acquired micro-transaction app developer Spare Change, which powered micropayments across 700 social networking apps on Facebook, MySpace, and Bebo. And PlaySpan also announced a deal to power micropayments on hi5.