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Part two of the two-part series- this post will focus exclusively on the peril of virtual worlds. When I pulled out my handy-dandy Webster’s New World Dictionary to further define my term of peril- other words that stood out were: danger, jeopardy, and exposure to harm. So I thought to myself- could virtual worlds really be so ominous? Forrester Research recently reported that “only 11% of enterprises have adopted virtual worlds to augment their work.” With all of the press on virtual worlds- is this number really accurate… it seems like such a stark contrast to the numbers previously posted in The Promise of Virtual Worlds (link to blog article here) where we stated the following numbers from K Zero:

“By the end of this year we’ll be at the 150 mark for total worlds. We forecast this number to double by the end of 2010.”

“Combine all of this and we get to our 2012 forecast of 900 virtual worlds.”

“We forecast 2012 revenues to reach $6bn and 2013 to hit $9bn.”

We’ve seen Google Lively and Weblin enter the virtual world scene and then quickly fold- will more follow suit? So does the infamous tagline from Field of Dreams- “If we build it, they will come” really stand true for all virtual worlds (well it might if they don’t go bankrupt first). First of all virtual worlds are not created equal- although most all of them hold promise in different respects, will that be enough to sustain and prosper? The primary reason for some virtual worlds closing is the lack of funds generated- if a virtual world is free to users- there must be a valid business model underpinning the endeavor. Without such a model- will virtual worlds be able to continue. Sure lots of users are in-world and building communities but that ultimately doesn’t bring home the bacon. Whereas if a virtual world company branches out- such as Second Life with branding opportunities or Blue Mars with the Smithsonian maybe success will ensue. What could possibly lead to the peril of virtual worlds as we know them? Although mainstream adoption may be a little ways out I wouldn’t say that the perils outweigh the potential of virtual worlds. If a company makes a name or carves a niche then the opportunity for high-level success is there. But in today’s economic times there are a lot more companies that go bankrupt before success is reaped. So I am sure that we will see more virtual world companies enter and then exit the scene for lack of funding.

This is a two- part blog post on the promise and peril of virtual worlds, this post will specifically focus on the promise of virtual worlds. Recently K Zero posted a Forecast for the Virtual Worlds Sector on their blog:

“By the end of this year we’ll be at the 150 mark for total worlds. We forecast this number to double by the end of 2010.”

“Combine all of this and we get to our 2012 forecast of 900 virtual worlds.”

“We forecast 2012 revenues to reach $6bn and 2013 to hit $9bn.”

Yes that is Billion with a capital B! But 900 virtual worlds by 2012 could this be true- a little more than 2 years away and we haven’t even hit the 150 number!? What will be the differentiating factor from one virtual world to the next with that many virtual world applications to choose from? We don’t even have that many options with social media apps. as of yet. It seems like a daunting figure- although I am all for the growth of virtual worlds- how many is too many? There are many indications that virtual worlds hold a very bright future.

So you may ask why virtual worlds?
-Reducing Training Costs
-Increasing Company Revenues
-Training / Education
-Increase in Employee Productivity
-Customer Interaction
-Product Development
-Process Optimization
-Offer an Immersive Learning Experience
-High fidelity graphics

A weekly wrap-up on what’s going on within the Virtual World sphere and beyond! Click on any of the below titles to read the full story.

Players May Soon Use One Avatar for Multiple Worlds

Making the virtual world learning experience better

KZero VW registered accounts increase by 92m to 671m in Q3 2009

KZero Updated Universe chart for Q3 2009

KZero recently released the updated Virtual World graphs for the second quarter of 2009. Perhaps the biggest story behind these updates is the new statistic of 579 million registered users for virtual worlds!

Virtual World Accounts Q2 2009: Age 25+

Virtual World Accounts Q2 2009: Ages 15 to 25

Virtual World Accounts Q2 2009: Ages 10 to 15

Virtual World Accounts Q2 2009: Ages 5 to 10