Virtual Worlds: 2009 industry forecast

US-based Virtual Worlds Management have released their Virtual Worlds Management Industry Forecast 2009 . It features commentary from more than 60 executives across the virtual worlds industry, including Australia’s Santosh Kulkarni (NICTA), Danny Stefanic (ExitReality), Bruce Joy (VastPark), and Bob Quodling (Mycosm).

vw-forecast-2009

Condensing a report of this size into a few paragraphs is always fraught with difficulty, but the main messages standing out for me were:

1. There’s not surprisingly very different estimates put forward on the level of growth this year, given the current economic circumstances;

2. There’s significant confidence that advertising models are evolving that make virtual worlds competitive with social networks like Facebook, particularly given the growth in virtual goods on those platforms;

3. Web-driven worlds are seen as having the most momentum for 2009;

4. Enterprise use of virtual worlds remains unclear, with a split between those who believe the economic climate provides opportunities to demonstrate cost savings versus those who believe any IT expenditure will be under significant scrutiny.

From the Aussie contingent, one of the more amusing comments came from VastPark’s Bruce Joy:

3D on the Web will continue to be a bit disappointing, but will become far more commonplace through Unity and Flash based engines like Papervision. This suggests 2010 may be the watershed year where 3D on the Web goes mainstream. That’s when we all become rock stars and live large, right?

Mycosm’s Bob Quodling claims “Wireless mobile will be the biggest play” – is that as opposed to ‘Wired Mobile’?

Danny Stefanic from ExitReality sees much clearer ROI cases coming forward for business, whilst Santosh Kulkarni from NICTA cites the developments in interoperability between worlds a key issue.

If you’re interested in some comprehensive thoughts from the virtual worlds industry itself, then have a read of the full report. We’d love to hear your thoughts – is the report a realistic assessment of 2009 prospects, a group of insular assertions from an industry desperate to gain mainstream relevance, or something else altogether?

Recession and virtual worlds: go real-world

Nic Mitham at Kzero has written a interesting piece on virtual worlds and the challenges they face in the current economic climate. He pays particular attention to ‘pure-play’ worlds, which are those that aren’t linked to a real-world brand.

kzero-tweens

Pure-play worlds don’t have the relative security of a more widely known brand to leverage from and Kzero’s view is that a foray into the real-world marketing space will assist in surviving the current challenges. It’s a claim that’s hard to refute given the ever-increasing competition in the space – the paying customers (mostly parents) are more likely to feel engaged with a product they’ve eyeballed beyond the computer screen. Of course, a lot of pure-play worlds are hard pushed to maintain their cash flow for development, let alone funding real-world marketing pushes with product to back it up.

In the Australian context, Mycosm, VastPark and MyCyberTwin all fall into the category of worlds with no real-world brand awareness beyond the products they’re developing. To date, Australia has escaped the worst of the worldwide economic conditions – that’s not going to continue forever and these three platforms face some nail-biting times ahead.

Read the full Kzero piece here.

Virtual worlds prominent in BRW’s Top 100 Australian Web 2.0 Applications

BRW have run a feature listing the ‘Top 100′ Australian Web 2.0 applications.

The list is a co-production with Ross Dawson’s Future Explanation Network and you can see the full list here.

The Australia-based virtual worlds that made the list were:

1. VastPark at number 22.

2. MojiKan at number 32.

3. My CyberTwin at number 65.

4. Mycosm at number 69.

That there are four projects in the list shows the strength of the Australian virtual worlds sphere. We’ve covered VastPark extensively and will be profiling the other list entrants in coming weeks. If you’ve used any of these products, what has your experience been?

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