Understanding a Virtual Item Economy

Understanding a Virtual Item Economy Introduction

A virtual item economy occurs in games where there are items that can be traded between players directly or through a central marketplace or service that allows for the exchange to happen. These items are, as said, virtual items, being a piece of armour within a role-playing game or an aesthetic version of a weapon. With that said, it can become apparent that there will be values, a worth for these virtual items that are given to these items.


It’s crazy to think that someone could actually want to pay real cash for a simple virtual item, however, greed and envy lead the way in making a virtual item economy be successful and aid virtual items maintaining their monetary worth. Some common items may be selling for mere pennies, whilst the more prolific and more desired items of extreme rarity can exceed more than thousands of dollars, that being paid by collectors who simply wish to own a unique item.


An overview image of the M4A4 | Howl's Steam Market page from the game Counter-Strike: Global Offensive, displaying the rising price of the Howl within it's lifetime, due to it's extreme rarity.

It should be noted that the use of the Steam Community Market doesn't allow users to get real tender, but rather credit within their Steam account as to be used for buying games upon Steam's game store, making micro-purchases within games or buying other items upon the Steam Market platform.


Any virtual item market can be comparable to the stock market in the fact that people can buy and sell virtual, non-physical items that have some sort of value that is portrayed by supply and demand of the general users that shows this worth. One of the only major differences is that some virtual item economies aren’t directly revolved around actual creditable legal tender with the virtual currency being in place of that. Another is that you can expect a lot of casual players in addition to traders, as they are essentially the consumers that bring out the need for trading. As well as that, stocks, equities, shares and bonds are merely just seen as a contract or agreement that entitles the owner to something but in nearly all cases, it’s purpose isn’t dawned upon by stock market traders as it is merely a medium, a platform that can be used to represent a company or item and something to just make money off, as seen by most (long-term or short-term) investment-minded traders. As for virtual items in games, they have another purpose, being a piece of gear to gain extra boost to win against an opponent or merely just a purely-aesthetic version of a weapon that is used by the owner within game as to look cool.