Tuesday, 18 December 2007

What's in Store in 2008?

Virtual Worlds News has just published the results of a questionnaire sent to some of the Great and the Good of virtual worlds, in which they were asked 5 questions about the prospects for 2008. By some oversight I'm sure, I didn't receive their questionnaire; perhaps the email is stuck in the Christmas post somewhere. Anyway, I thought I'd take a stab at answering these questions - just to see what emerges, and so I can look back in a year's time and laugh at my ineptitude and general lack of clairvoyance. You might like to play too...

1. What are your top 3 trend predictions for 2008?

  • There will be an explosion in the number of VWs of all types. Many of these will be destined to fail, after going through the Gartner hype cycle at various rates. By the end of the year there will be a core of survivors. China will have a huge impact as the China Recreation District rolls out, with HiPiHi, NovoKing and uWorld going live, along with the Chinese Entropia planet(s). And that is just the tip of it.
  • Social networks and virtual worlds will continue to converge, with more potent tools available to take advantage of the best features of each: the immersion and shared experience of VWs, coupled with the content of social networks.
  • IBM, Sun and others will launch "behind-the-firewall" virtual intranet worlds that can be bought off the shelf.
2. What business goals have you set for 2008?
  • To wheedle my way into that elite group of pundits that bang on about trends in Virtual Worlds.
  • Actually, there are some others - but those are between me and my employer.
3. What challenges do you expect 2008 to bring for the virtual worlds industry?
  • Defining and agreeing the interoperability standards and architecture to start delivering web3.D.
  • Security and authentication
  • Shaking off the negative press, and the "it's just for saddoes" world view.
  • Moving Terms of Service from a "game world" model to a "citizen world." For example, redefining the fiscal rules relating to virtual money. At the moment the L$ is, in effect, play money with zero value rather than a true currency.
  • Law'n'order, IPR and freedom of speech will continue to exercise the minds of the great and the good (and the not-so-good).
4. A number of new platforms are launching in 2008. What are the biggest impacts this will have on the industry?
  • A realisation that there is not one, true vision of virtual worlds. While some may strive for convergence and homogeneity, the new platforms will actually force more diversity. Such diversity will need to be embraced, and even celebrated - 'cos it ain't likely to go away. The real art will in be finding ways of navigating between these worlds - but that won't happen in 2008.
  • Again, as I have spouted forth on other occasions, it is the Far East that holds the key for me - large populations of educated, computer-literate users will fundamentally change the profile of VWs, and introduce new and striking visual interpretations, approaches and business models.
  • Personally, I'm not convinced that mobile will converge that rapidly with virtual social worlds. Development of "virtual globe" mapping and geo-mashups will continue apace - but these are not "virtual worlds" by my narrow, personal, biased (and unstated) definition.
5. How will the above changes affect your specific segment of the industry in 2008?
  • You mean blogging? I guess I will have to blog wider and farther. And who knows? Perhaps I might even get some remuneration for my ramblings :-)
  • Oh... and I might get to do my bit by encouraging myself and others to reduce their carbon hoofprints, by holding more meetings in virtual spaces.

Now it's your turn to play.

1 comment:

RightAsRain said...

Alistair:
Interesting data from LL just posted. I am working on our business plan and made some analysis. In general looks like end of growth for SL... take a look http://www.rezzable.com/blog