I recently read an article about the increase in spending on virtual goods and gifts. According to the piece, analysts estimate that this kind of virtual spending could bring in $1 billion this year in the US alone — and nearly $5 billion worldwide.

From Facebook apps like the popular FarmVille — which allows players to run their own virtual farms — to competitive games like Sorority Life — where players have to dress a group of college sorority sisters to compete with rival sororities — the article explains that players are likely to buy items to improve their performance in the game or to build up a collection of goods that will impress friends.

I love sending free virtual goodies to friends on their birthdays or for other special events, but I'm not sure how much cash I would regularly drop on intangible items. What do you think? Do you spend money on virtual gifts or other goods?