Kongregate making serious real world money with virtual goods

There’s a good chance that if you’re into the mobile and social games space then you’ve at least once visited Kongregate, the online gaming portal now owned by GameStop. The real question is, did you buy anything while you were there? If so, then congratulations on contributing to the site in a major way, as Kongregate is seeing a nice revenue stream coming from the realm of virtual goods.

According to the most recent statistics as reported by VentureBeat, Kongregate doubled the amount of games featuring virtual items, gold and other goodies over the past year, which in turn tripled revenue. In fact, the company claims that 80 percent of the money it made last year came from people buying in-game items to boost the experience. Anyone still wondering if this whole freemium thing is ever going to catch on?

Kongregate and others are stepping up as a real online gaming alternative to Facebook, the current ruler of the roost. While smaller publishers are united under digital platforms as a means of self-preservation in the face of the Facebook onslaught, bigger players like Kongregate and Zynga are fighting to position themselves as a real alternative.

“As the viral channels have turned down on Facebook, more game developers are willing to move off Facebook to the web,” said Kongregate co-founder Jim Greer. “Facebook is a place to socialize and play games. We’re the opposite: a place to play games first, and then socialize. Kongregate is mostly about the games, just as Xbox Live is.”

It seems that for now at least there’s plenty of cash-driven love to go around, so ultimately we may not be forced to choose. We seem to move away from consoles and traditional gaming outlets faster and faster, and it may be that we’re not too far off from a future where the bulk of gaming is driven by companies like Zynga, Facebook and Kongregate.

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