DEFINITION of 'Virtual Good'
A good or product traded in the non-physical realm, typically in online communities and games. A virtual good has no tangible substance and no real intrinsic value; its value resides solely in what the user is willing to pay for it. The virtual good industry has recorded exponential growth in recent years, in line with the surging popularity of Facebook and other social media sites.
BREAKING DOWN 'Virtual Good'
Prominent purveyors of virtual goods include Zynga, Tencent and Playfish. Zynga's Farmville, which requires the user to manage a virtual farm, is one of the most popular markets for virtual goods. The game owes much of its popularity to Facebook, where it has been offered as an application since June 2009.
The lines between the world of physical and virtual goods may get increasingly blurred in the years ahead. There have already been a few instances of some users spending outrageous amounts of cold, hard cash for virtual real estate or other virtual goods. In March 2012, Zynga announced a partnership with Frito-Lay through which buyers of the latter's chips and snacks would receive Farmville and other virtual goods through codes packaged in these snacks.