Tencent is China’s answer to Facebook, in addition to offering instant messaging and mobile services. As reported by Digital Beat, the internet giant posted $1.8 billion in revenue in 2009, which dwarfs Facebook’s $600-700 million in the same time frame.
Tencent’s biggest service, QQ Messenger, has a whopping 523 million active users, and by targeting those users with in-house cross-promotion, Tencent is able to advertize its other properties, including (but not limited to) QQ Music, QQ Pets, and QQ Show, along with its true social network service Qzone.
All of these products are connected via microtransactions, and a “diamond membership” system. Depending on the color of a user’s diamond, they receive different free and exclusive virtual goods. As an example, a red diamond membership will help you when you play QQ Show, and dress up your virtual avatar for competition against other players.
Of the game’s user base, around 10% pay for these monthly membership programs, at a cost of around $1.50 a month. While this may seem like a small figure, such “internet value-added services” account for 75% of the total revenue earned, with this sector alone growing 94% as compared to the year before.
Meanwhile, Facebook earned less than 2% of its revenue from the sale of virtual goods, with that figure being something the company hopes to raise with the potential widespread usage of Facebook Credits.