Call it an online community, e-world, second life or 3D avatars, etc the fact is that investors are pouring money over the Virtual World! In third quarter of 2008, investors poured $148.5 million into virtual worlds.Though, this number is lower than Q2’s investment of $161 million & $184 million in Q1 this year. But if we see the bigger picture, there has been a total investment of $493 million so far in 2008. Again this number is lower that 2007’s investment of just over $1 billion, but the number was mainly influenced by the $700 million acquisition of ‘Club Penguin’ by Walt Disney. Last year there were 35 companies to receive the money; but till now, almost 51 companies have received the investment this year.
As per a report released by Virtual Worlds Management in April 2008, there are now over 100 virtual worlds operating or in development with a focus on the youth market (18-and-under). Companies like Disney and Viacom’s Nickelodeon unit have been diving into virtual worlds as stand-alone properties and as adjuncts to existing franchises. Post the acquisition of ‘Club Penguin’ in last year, Disney has at least nine more in development, including one based on its animated movie “Cars.” Rival Nickelodeon, is doing their bit too.
Some of the most popular online worlds are tied to real-world merchandise. Toymaker Mattel has created a virtual home for Barbie and pre-teens have been flocking the online homes of their Webkinz & Neopets stuffed toys. For the Lego fans! go to Lego Universe – an official site of the developing Massively Multiplyaer Online Game (MMOG).
Under 18 in focus:
In April 2008, Virtual Worlds Management announced that there are now more than 100 virtual worlds now operating live or are currently in development that have at least a general focus on the under-18 market.
In all there are 60 youth worlds currently live. Another 53 are in concepting, development, or testing phases. The general tween category (here looked at as 8 to 12) has the most interest with 62 worlds live or in development, followed closely by kids worlds (7 and under) with 52 worlds live or in development and then teens (13-18 years old) with 44 worlds live or in development.
“…When a parent’s choices are between $60 for a one-off, triple-A video game, $10 for a two-hour movie, or a free-to-play virtual world for their children, it’s clear there’s still plenty of room to grow.” said Christopher Sherman, executive director at Virtual Worlds Management.
This is the worst possible time for anyone can be in. But, even when the economy is taking a downturn, consumers still want to have fun. The amount of money invested in this period of time is staggering. We don’t see any slowing in the market adoption of virtual worlds technologies and expect investment in the space to continue. In fact the market is growing significantly, with the adoption rate of virtual worlds increasing & evolution of technology, I am sure more is yet to come!
Hey…. before I end. Why are virtual worlds appealing?
It allows people to freely express themselves within a hierarchical social sphere. This makes it increasingly easier and more common for gamers to create and live a virtual identity through Massively Multiplayer Online Games (MMOG). This appeals to millions & more are joining… Just look at World of Warcraft: the MMOG’s has well over 10 million subscribers worldwide, earning it the Guinness World Record for “Most Popular MMOG Role-Playing Game.”
Even casual free-to-play MMOG such as Maple Story have been popular with gamers, with over 50 million people with subscriber accounts internationally.
I considered myself an outsider to the Virtual World, but not anymore. Thanks to this article, I am sure to dive into this.
by the way, I wish “History/Discovery Channel or CSI’s of the world come up with their Virtual World. I would love to be a part of it! How about popular shows on virtual world? may be South Park, Prison Break, etc. Sounds exciting to me. What Say?”
(please feel free to add or alert me with any updates that I may not have taken into account) Sorry again…. but, how about Green Peace on Second Life 🙂