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Top 10 predictions for virtual worlds 2009 -itsReal

From: The Metaverse Journal – Australia’s Leading Virtual World News Service

Now that we’ve reviewed our 2008 predictions, it’s on to 2009. For the coming year, we’re going to get a little bit more specific in our predictions. It may lower our chances of success but will be more fun. So here we go:

1. OpenSim grids will bleed Second Life users – this may seem a very obvious prediction given the growth of OpenSim grids, but what I mean here is that the exodus will be obvious. It won’t be a migration that will affect Second Life’s viability (other issues may achieve that), but there will be a solid, committed population of OpenSim users choosing those grids over Second Life’s one. Put another way, new users will see OpenSim grids as an equal option to signing up to Second Life.

2. Virtual worlds will appear as normal daily life in TV / Movies – To date, most appearances of virtual worlds in TV and film are either documentaries or as a central part of an action / geek film. US comedy The Office and CSI have both featured Second Life but essentially in a sensationalistic way. 2009 will see more insertions of virtual worlds into daily life scenes in shows. A disclosure here: I’m particularly confident on this one as I’ve had the pleasure of helping out on a film project that features a virtual world in a day-to-day context. More on that in the first few months of next year.

3. There will be a net increase in Australian business in virtual worlds – Second Life won’t see any significant growth in Australian businesses entering Second Life and there may actually be a decrease. The gains will come in worlds like Twinity, customised worlds created on platforms like VastPark and possibly even some entry into enterprise worlds offered by entities like IBM and Forterra. Any increase will be driven by the increasing awareness of virtual worlds as a cost-effective business collaboration tool.

click to join twinity - powered by real life

click to join twinity - powered by real life

4. Virtual worlds will remain a political no-go zone – Australian political parties have had zero presence to date and it’s extremely unlikely to change in 2009. Any planning being done by the major parties for the 2010 Federal Election is unlikely to extend beyond services like YouTube and Twitter. Things may stretch to sites like Barack Obama’s Change site, but forget anything 3D.

5. Metaplace will be a game-changer – Metaplace’s simple, web-based interface combined with some impressive content creation tools will ensure a launch with impact and significant growth. There’ll be some obvious poaching of users from services like Habbo Hotel but also from content-creation havens like Second Life.

6. Virtual sex will lead to legislation – Linden Lab’s gambling, ageplay and banking clamp-downs were an early start to the reality of increased regulation and governments worldwide are increasingly scrutinising virtual world activities. Sexual exploits (aside from ageplay) have remained unregulated. For better or worse, this won’t remain.

Read the remaining predictions at Metaverse Journal

via Ten virtual worlds predictions for 2009 : The Metaverse Journal – Australia’s Virtual World News Service.


Filed under top 10, twinity, twinity 3d Online world, virtual commerce, virtual education, virtual life, virtual news, virtual sex, virtual worlds, Virtual worlds news

A ‘Virtual’ Escape From Economic Pain – Forbes.com

A ‘Virtual’ Escape From Economic Pain
Mary Jane Irwin,

The Dow plummeted below 9,000 points to a five-year low Thursday. Worldwide, economies are slowing and consumers are worried sick about their future.

Despite all the doom and gloom, one tiny sector is offering a glimmer of hope: virtual worlds. Companies such as Gaia Interactive and Habbo are expecting a boost as consumers reduce spending on real-world goods and luxuries and console themselves with so-called virtual goods–digital copies of products that can cost just pennies, allowing users to indulge their materialistic fantasies without spending much.

“As the ‘real world’ gets worse, virtual worlds get better,” Gaia Chief Executive Craig Sherman told Forbes.com in an e-mail. “As things get worse, people spend more time at movies or spend more time on a site like Gaia Online, which provides a relatively inexpensive respite from the offline world.” Gaia, which targets U.S. teens and twenty-somethings, had more than 7 million unique visitors in September.

Teen-focused virtual world Habbo boasts a similar outlook. While there is some concern the down economy will reduce the site’s ad sales, 85% of Habbo’s revenue is derived from virtual goods transactions. The site’s 2.5 million U.S. users spend an average of $18 a month, and the average time spent on the site has doubled to 40 minutes per session in the past year, says Executive Vice President Teemu Huuhtanen. He expects the number of unique users–currently 10 million globally–to grow as the site introduces new services and activities.

Kid-focused virtual worlds like Club Penguin and Neopets have boomed over the past two years, becoming an attractive investment niche for large media companies. These sites provide a way for kids to interact with a media property–say, Nickelodeon’s legion of characters–in an environment that is cheaper on a per hour basis than seeing the latest flick in the theaters.

EVE Online, a science fiction-themed massively multiplayer game, is going gangbusters. The subscription-based virtual world has gone from 220,000 users to nearly a quarter of a million since the beginning of the year. EVE’s on-staff economist Eyjo Gudmundsson expects the game’s growth to continue over the next six months–particularly as people look for more inexpensive forms of entertainment. The basic EVE subscription cost is $14.95 per month.

Gudmundsson cautions, though, that virtual worlds that are directly linked to the real world may fall victim to some real-world economic frustrations.

Indeed, the number of registered and active users of Second Life, a virtual world that simulates real-world experiences, have flattened out, says Parks Associates analyst Michael Cai. But this might not be a reaction to the economy; it could be due to consumers shifting to other virtual worlds. Cai predicts that corporations will start using Second Life or custom 3D virtual worlds to hold meetings and cut travel costs.

via A ‘Virtual’ Escape From Economic Pain – Forbes.com

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