Cash-strapped shoppers during this festive season can look at the virtual world to make some extra cash or send virtual gifts via sites such as Facebook.
Veteran of online game World of Warcraft (WoW), Benjamin Chew, shared with ZDNet Asia in an instant message interview that making money in virtual games works in the same environment as real life.
"First, you have to know the market prices of in-game items such as weapons and armory. Then anticipate supply in demand. And lastly, buy low and sell high," said Chew, who is based in Singapore.
He added that trading in WoW is similar to real-life stock market. "For hardcore players, some make spreadsheets with everyday prices to monitor prices. And there are also in-game add-ons to help users monitor the auction house as well," he explained.
Virtual items are not only money-spinners in the domain of online games.
Virtual gift shop
Facebook offers various gift options including music tracks, as well as physical gifts such as flowers. Music gifts are available as Web songs or downloadable as MP3s and are powered by Lala.com, which was recently acquired by Apple.
According to a report from Inside Facebook, buying physical gifts is similar to the "traditional shopping cart experience" where user will be able to enter a shipping or delivery address.
However, music tracks and physical gifts are only available for purchase by users in the United States, who can use Facebook Credits to buy the real-world gifts.
Users based in Asia will have to make do with buying and sending virtual gifts via Facebook Credits, which are sold at 10 credits for US$1.
But, online users based in countries such as China, should keep in mind that trading with virtual money is illegal and punishable by law.