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Virtual Worlds Viewpoints

VWC Viewpoints December 2008/January 2009

2008: The Year in Review

Despite the failure of Google Lively and a global economy in decline, the virtual-worlds market continued to develop throughout 2008. Even before the economy began to decline, several vendors became aware that marketing and branding applications were not going to sustain them in the long term because of low visitor numbers in comparison with numbers in conventional media and that enterprise applications such as collaboration and training offered potentially more lucrative opportunities. Linden Lab increased the number of its staff who focused on the corporate market and pursued partnerships with Rivers Run Red and IBM to reach corporate buyers.

Small players continued to dominate the market in 2008, with Google entering then exiting the market and other large companies—including IBM, Nortel, and Sun Microsystems—still skirting round the edge of the market. Even the arrival of Sony's virtual world at the end of 2008 looked unlikely to change the industry beyond the confines of the company's own console.

Browser-based worlds proved popular in the consumer market and helped to improve the accessibility and usability of virtual worlds. Vendors also started to use Web services to integrate virtual worlds with other Web-based applications and data.

VWC Viewpoints November 2008
Linden Lab and Rivers Run Red Team on "Immersive Workspaces"

In October 2008, Rivers Run Red and Linden Lab announced "Immersive Workspaces"—a Second Life Grid–based product targeting corporate collaboration. The product combines a standardized Second Life Grid build (featuring meeting rooms, an auditorium, an atrium, and a help area) with a Web site for administration such as recording actions, scheduling meetings, and managing online teams. With this product, Rivers Run Red and Linden Lab have attempted to make Second Life more palatable for a business audience by improving usability and security.
VWC Viewpoints October 2008

Scenarios for Virtual-Worlds Interoperability
Areas to Monitor in the Technology Map shows that the evolution of open standards to enable interoperability between virtual worlds is one of the highest-impact, highest-uncertainty issues for the future of the market. This Viewpoints describes various scenarios that illustrate how the future of virtual-worlds interoperability could play out.

VWC Viewpoints September 2008

Web-Based Virtual Worlds
Web-based virtual worlds are evolving fast—arguably faster than their client-server–based counterparts. Vivaty, Myrl, and Metaplace are all examples of start-ups targeting virtual worlds. The Electric Sheep Company recently released WebFlock—its own Web-based virtual world. Google's Lively is also Web based. In fact Web-based virtual worlds are not new. Club Penguin and Runescape are among the virtual worlds that have grown into big successes using the accessible, Web-based approach. What is changing is that a greater range of virtual worlds are becoming Web based, and the technology and graphics are improving, providing a greater challenge to client-server–based worlds like Second Life.

VWC Viewpoints August 2008

The 4-x-4 of Software?

The Technology Map highlights several applications of virtual worlds--including collaborative work, training, nd product development--in which virtual-worlds eetings could replace face-to-face meetings, thereby educing air travel and carbon emissions. But virtual orlds themselves are far from carbon neutral, and usinesses and individuals may start to play closer attention to the  environmental impact of virtual worlds in the future. This Viewpoints considers how environmental issues will affect the market for virtual worlds.