Virtual or Real: A look at the Thriving IMVU Virtual Economy

By Kevin Henshaw, VP of Business Development and GM of Revenue

Most people see IMVU as a fun online destination for millions of its customers, where they create and customize their 3D avatars and make long-lasting connections with people from around the world. However, IMVU also hosts a thriving virtual economy with the world’s largest virtual goods catalog, where IMVU customers not only shop for all their avatar needs from the more than 15 million products but also make them. Today, we’ll break down the complexities of IMVU’s economy and show you the general outlines of the flow of IMVU currency.

The IMVU catalog is a unique marketplace where sellers and buyers are one and the same. The catalog is a wonderful expression of digital goods makers who we call Creators. The buyers are both Creators and non-Creators – who are of course first and foremost here to engage and interact with their connections via the 3D chat.

To support this massive virtual industry, IMVU has built a complex, large-scale economy that involves both real and virtual currency and many entry and exit points. A delicate balance is needed and maintained for this economy with the combined efforts of IMVU, its content creators and reseller partners.

IMVU, its customers, Creators and other participants engage in a multi-channel exchange of four types of currency: Real-world money, Credits, Promotional Credits and Developer Tokens. Each currency type can be bought, earned or spent in different ways.

IMVU sells Credits to its users, and provides tools for making products to its Creators. IMVU also provides multiple ways to earn Promotional Credits and ways to spend all virtual currency types, thereby removing them from the economy.

Many IMVU users, including Creators, buy Credits from IMVU with real money. They also earn free promotional credits via various partner offers and activities provided by IMVU. They spend the purchased or earned credits on shopping in the catalog for clothes, furniture and gifts, to buy music from IMVU’s music store and to submit their own products to the shop if they are Creators.

IMVU Creators also earn Credits when someone purchases an item from IMVU’s shop that they have created. They earn developer tokens when their products are bought with promotional credits and use those tokens to advertise themselves on IMVU or to pay for the fee to submit their new products to the shop. The illustration above shows the multitude of ways of their interactions.

Yes, it is indeed as complicated and interlaced as it looks! So you decide – what is more complex? The real world economy or IMVU’s virtual economy?

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