Tuesday, July 29, 2008

Virtual Pursuits - Who’s on the Radar?

t’s been a week of talking about the future of virtual worlds
with VC’s, investors and research companies. The over-penetrated
sectors, the under-served niches and where the smart money should be
placed from an investment perspective. It’s also been a week of
looking at a lot of business plans for potential new worlds with the
founders not always realising there’s already competition in the
space they’re looking to enter.

On that note, I thought it would be be interesting and useful to segment the Universe graph by sector and genre to shed some light on the questions above.

So, I’m dieing to call this graph ‘The
Wedgie’, but I’ll settle on the ‘Radar’ (or
maybe even Vadar). Here we go:

There’s a lot going on - we know this, so to make this a
little easier to assimilate, it’s broken out a little below (and
a high-res PDF version can be requested here).

Socialising/chat, casual gaming and misc are shown below with bands
reflecting age groups. There’s about 25 worlds off the radar
(i.e. in stealth mode) not shown here. Blue dots refer to worlds in
development or closed beta. Red are live or open beta.

Mirror worlds, roleplay/fantasy/quests and toys/real world game
worlds are shown below. The toys and real world games sector is a hot
area right now, set for continued growth in the next 12 months. Mirror
worlds are one of the few categories tailored towards older users.

Music, fashion/lifestyle and education/development is the next
segment. For me, all three of these groups are primed for growth.
Education (termed Learning 2.0 by some) clearly has benefits across all
age groups, although its KT&T’s first-up as the target
market. Remote learning applications will penetrate into older groups
over time. Fashion and lifestyle remains popular and with the increased
take-up from real world clothing and luxury brands into these worlds
there’s good signs for the virtual goods sector. Thirdly, music
appears to be untapped but nevertheless a great sweetspot for both
investment, music companies, artists and let’s not forget the

The fourth slice shows sports, tv/film/books and content creation.
The true potential of the sports segment will be under the spotlight in
coming months with the launch of several worlds. The media category,
similar to the toys group shows early promise and as for the content
creation group - Second Life sits at the heart of this but
there’s several ‘new takes’ on enabling people to
‘make stuff’ in virtual worlds.

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