As a virtual Twain may have said “…reports of my world’s death have been greatly exaggerated…”

A lot of interesting – yet somewhat contradictory – news over the past weeks related to the life, hype, and death of virtual worlds. At the same time as Blizzard is announcing that it has passed 9 million subscribers for its World of Warcraft phenomenon, sage scribes are writing that Second Life has been a bust for advertisers and marketers. New worlds seem to be launched almost weekly, while others (e.g. Kaneva) slowly disappear.

What does this mean? Most of the media reports today harp upon the failure(s) of virtual worlds. From my perspective, this type of critical review and pessimistic analysis is actually healthy. As with any new technological phenomenon or growing network, there is always an early spike, usually a mid-term plateau or decline, and then a long-run assessment of the true viability of a venture’s business model. It was inevitable that all of Second Life’s press coverage was eventually going to come back to bite it; that is the nature of both a paradigm-changing innovation and the wonts of today’s media. But, let’s consider this: the field is still very young and, if we consider worlds to be platforms upon which networks, applications, and communities are being built vs. destinations in-and-of themselves, then we have barely scratched the surface. In fact, we may ultimately look back at some of these pioneering worlds as places whose greatest legacy was as platforms to test, try, and experiment a huge number of applications and uses for 3-dimensional communication spaces.



This entry was posted on Friday, July 27th, 2007 at 6:54 pm and is filed under Blog.  You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed.  You can leave a response, or trackback from your own site. 

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