brian_clareyby Brian Clarey

It’s basically a digital version of the toys she loved as a child: paper dolls, Fashion Plates, Barbies with extended wardrobes, that weird disembodied head she used to style and paint.

But it’s not just for kids, my sister tells me — though, she admits, there is some high school mean-girling going on at Covet Fashion, the fashion app she and some of her friends have been obsessing over for the last six months or so.

It’s pretty simple: Users style a virtual model from tip to tail and then participate in a sort of pageant wherein they vote on each other’s looks. The winner gets a prize of in-house cash that can be spent on more clothes.

What makes it noteworthy is that it’s one of the first online video games geared specifically to girls and women — a vast, untapped market that conventional wisdom had long stipulated was uninterested in online gaming.

Users number in the millions in the global marketplace, and though the game is free to download and play, some revenue is generated by in-app purchases like extra spending coin. But unlike Candy Crush or Clash of Clans, there exists in Covet Fashion another practical route to monetization.

When you buy a new piece for your virtual closet, you have the option of buying the actual item itself, which can be at your door as fast as ground shipping allows.

More than 150 high-end brands have signed on to Covet Fashion, and so many more have expressed interest that a landing page has been created on its website for prospective participants. They’d be crazy not to get in on it: a self-identified audience dense with the target demographic, engaged in a way that transcends all previous forms of delivery, with an in-game retail portal and access to every screen the internet touches.

It’s growing so fast that the parent company CrowdStar — whose previous efforts included Wasteland Empires, Fish With Attitude and Phuzzle — has shifted all its operations over in support of the title.

You’d better believe they’re hiring. They’ve got 10 open positions in their Burlingame, Calif. office. They’ve got weekly in-house yoga.

The revenue stream is now shifting heavily towards the retail purchases made through the game, some of it provided by my sister, who says she swore off buying in-house Covet Fashion dollars months ago, but who has moved her formidable internet shopping habit over to the game’s portal, allowing them a cut of every transaction and allowing her to build up her actual wardrobe.

It’s different when you get something for it, she says.

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