Subscribe to our monthly report/news updates
and Virtual Reality News Weekly

4 days ago

RT @WEARVR: I added a video to a @YouTube playlist https://t.co/ZO201CkaW6 VR Vertigo in Plank Not Included, Out Now at WEARVR

Filter Post Format:


KZero referenced in the Guardian

Published in the technology news & features section in the Guardian, our Universe Chart and research helped highlight the boom in virtual world memberships. “Membership of virtual worlds grew by 39% in the second quarter of 2009 to an estimated 579 million,” reports Victor Keegan based on our research. He also explains that much of this growth comes from children (or tweens). Keegan mentions Twinity’s recent funding and explains that unlike Second Life, there is no content creation allowed. You can read more about Twinity here. At the end of Keegan’s article he writes that “one problem of virtual worlds is that you can’t go from one to another,” a concept known as interoperability – a concept we’ve been thinking about for quite a while.

Looking back to look forward: 20 trends defining virtual worlds in 2007

Just over a year ago Techdigest did a great job of live-blogging the Virtual Worlds Forum event in London. They also came up with a list of 20 trends defining virtual worlds in 2007. Now then, a year is a long long time in the virtual worlds space so let’s go back and look at these predictions and see what’s happened a year later.

.

1. Shedloads of virtual worlds will be launched in 2008. KZ: Spot on. See them here. And expect even more in 2009.

.

2. Teen-focused virtual worlds are huge. Well, some of the largest VW’s at present cater to the teen marketplaces like Stardoll, Habbo, IMVU and Gaia, although it’s the tween worlds which show the highest growth signs at the moment.

.

3. Brands still get it wrong. They did for sure in 2007. In 2008 we’re seeing better approaches, mainly because brands are starting to realise the range of different worlds available. Agencies are still a little slow getting to grips with virtual worlds though.

.

4. There’s a problem with communication. Yes, the industry is still a little insular and the media tends to flirt positively and negatively with virtual worlds. This issue is easing though, mainly through increased penetration of KT&T worlds.

.

5. There will be big growth in corporate use of virtual worlds. KZ: The first prediction that has yet to be realised.

.

6. Virtual items will be a big moneyspinner. KZ: Definitely, and will I think become the dominant factor for most virtual worlds. Here’s some stats to support this.?

.

7. Mobile is a bit of a wildcard. KZ: Not yet. They’re still the red herring.

Continue reading →

Cross-world gaming explained

K Zero client Myrl has a plan – to create a cross-world gaming platform enabling multiple VW’s, avatars, mobile devices and even brands to come together to create the next phase of metaverse entertainment.

The schematic shown is a nifty overview created byFrancesco D’Orazioexplaining how cross-world gaming will work using the outeroperability approach pioneered by K Zero. Now, sure this is enabled by technology but the secret to the success of this will be creativity and storytelling.

Here’s how Francesco explains it:

“Virtual Worlds represent a huge opportunity for the entertainment and the marketing industry. They can be effectively used as areas and/or levels of a huge hybrid gaming system that brings together virtual worlds, real spaces and the web to build compelling immersive experiences, similar in a way to being inside their own movie or personal adventure.

Continue reading →

Connecting virtual worlds with Myrl

Myrl is now open beta and accepting new member registrations.

Taking and leveragin a social-networking approach to linking up the users of virtual worlds, London-basedMyrl (a K Zero client) allows people to link their various virtual world avatar profiles and activities together. Myrl members can also vote (or Myrl) for their favourite places in virtual worlds as well as events, news and other items.

It’s a big step towards providing a ‘social gateway’ approach to virtual worlds with the ultimate goal of providing a ‘cross-world entertainment platform’ – more about this soon (tres exciting). As of today, 19 virtual worlds are part of the Myrl network.

Taking a technical view of the Myrl proposition, it’s based on a concept called Outeroperablity – terminology coined and created by K Zero. Read more about Outeroperability here.

Press release:

With the number of virtual worlds either live or in development approaching 200, the issue of managing multiple accounts for people in these worlds is becoming a realistic problem. Finding new and interesting places, getting the latest in-world news and connecting different avatars to a single real-world person are all features currently not available but set to be an ‘in-demand’ service.

Enter Myrl – the web-based social gateway designed to make the experience of using virtual worlds as easy and fun as possible that brings the users of these worlds together. Today Myrl enters open beta and is allowing people to sign-up to become members. Myrl allows people to create a single account and then link their various virtual world avatar accounts seamlessly. Myrl members can share their virtual life on the web by creating their avatar profile and post content such as popular places, events, news and images that every user can vote on (or Myrl) to make them more visible for the rest of the community.

The next phase of Myrl development will allow members to sign-up for new virtual worlds directly from the Myrl website providing a valuable source of new registrations for the high number of virtual worlds coming into the marketplace.

Scheduled for launch in 2009, Myrl is creating the ‘Cross World Entertainment Platform’, a feature set to revolutionise the virtual worlds sector allowing members to explore and ‘jump’ from one world to another playing games and participating in challenges and competitions.

“The virtual scene is getting really crowded and users need a tool that helps them reduce and manage this complexity”, commented Francesco D’Orazio founder and CEO of Myrl, “we are now supporting 19 virtual worlds and we are going to integrate more platforms by the end of the year”. Looking to the future, Mr D’Orazio added “The release of the Social Gateway for Virtual Worlds is the first step of a long roadmap. The way we use virtual worlds is changing, and we intend to support and foster this change.”

More coverage:

Virtual Worlds News

Virtual Worlds Forum

Bridging virtual worlds is the wrong answer: Techcrunch

Techcrunch is running an article discussing the recent IBM/Linden Lab announcementaboutachievingavatar portability between Second Life and an OpenSim server.

.

Whilst this is technical proof that porting is possible, Techcrunch suggests this approach is actually the wrong one and I tend to agree. Extract:

.

Interoperability between virtual worlds is fine, and is definitely a step towards breaking down the walled gardens they are increasingly finding themselves in. But ultimately it is the wrong answer. What we really need is interoperability between virtual worlds and the Web.

.

I wrote quite a long time ago about Outeroperability – using cross-world portability via a centralised web hub as opposed to from world to world. This approach also creates greater upsides for overlaying social networking, something Myrl is focussing on.

.

More Interoperability news

Virtual Worlds News has an interesting article about some recent developments in the field of Interoperability. There’s been a call for requirements for “Information exchange with Virtual Worlds” by the ISO MPEG Working Group.

.

Here’s a quick extract:

.

The summary of the call looks at three example use cases that would be improved with interoperability, virtual travel (ranging between worlds), interaction and rich communication with the physical world through a variety of systems and interfaces, and developing avatars that better show human emotion.

.

Interoperability is an interesting area with an unclear path ahead. In fact, just this morning I was discussing this topic at Metaverse08. I’ve written aboutInteroperabilitybefore (hey, I’ve even got a blog category about it) – here’s some of my angles…

.

Interoperability or Outeroperability

Competitive Rivalry in Virtual World

Brand-holding the Orientation process

Interoperability, virtual goods and forced migration

Interoperability, virtual goods and forced migration

The idea of avatars being able to move freely between different virtual worlds (known as Interoperability) is a topic always near the top of technology-led discussions about the ‘metaverse’.

Companies such as IBM, Cisco and Linden Lab have had discussions and laid early groundwork down into this area (Read a background to Interoperability here), with the broad objective of freeing up the walled gardens between individual virtual worlds and allowing free avatar passage.

In principle, a great idea.

But wait.

Who’s asking for Interoperability?

I don’t see forum posts, blogs or in-world groups of consumers (avatars) calling on their world operators to ‘let them out’.

Is it a classic case of creating a solution to a problem that doesn’t exist?

Perhaps. Maybe it’s too soon. Early adopters in virtual worlds have more than likely tested and explored different worlds and ultimately found one (or found none) suitable for them. They’re happy. And they stay. And they’ll stay until something new comes along that’s more suitable for them.

Then and only then will they consider spending more time in their new world.Now, this might not mean they close down their account at their first virtual world. It could just mean they have separate accounts in different worlds. However, as virtual cash balances increase and engagement grows in virtual assets (friend lists, inventory items etc) then at this point there may be a strong case for requiring an account port. We’re not there yet though and perhaps in this instance it’s not Interoperability but instead Outeroperability that becomes most likely.

To summarise: at this moment in time, consumer avatars are not requesting or requiring Interoperability.

What about the companies operating the existing virtual worlds? Are they pushing for Interoperability?

Continue reading →

Outeroperability or interoperability?

Outeroperability – there’s a word. Well, actually it isn’t a word at all (try a Google search on it).

.

It’s a word meant to mean the opposite to interoperability – the as yet unproven process of enabling avatars to move from one virtual world to another

..

interop-world.jpg

When thinking about the process of actually moving from one world to another, several avatar-related issues crop up, such as:

.

Names

.

If you move from one world to another, what happens to your name if someone in the virtual world you’re heading to has the same name? Continue reading →

What Interoperability means for Marketers. Part 2. The avatar

Avatar appearance and the experience of moving from one world to another.

.

For Interoperability (that’s the last time I write that in this post) to work, in other words, for people to actually use the service and shift from one world to another, a crucial element that needs to be addressed is the translation of an avatar’s attributes from one world to another.

.

This process needs to be a smooth and seamless as possible in order to encourage adoption. And to complicate this further, there’s several elements involved….

.

1. Avatar name

.

Names (without sounding like I’m really stating the obvious here) are extremely personal things and just as important in the virtual world as the real world. In Second Life, when a new account is opened, you get to choose from a selection of surnames (mine is Whizenhunt) and then you can have any first name you like. That name is mine.

.

Sign up with There and the process is slightly different. You can have any name you like, surname or first name or combination. In There my name is NicWhizenhunt. So far so good, as long as the name is available in the world you want to enter.

.

However, there’s a problem looming here in terms of avatar names and IOB. Take the example of some corporate entities in SL. Cisco is a good example here. Employees from Cisco using SL for business purposes have to use a corporate naming convention – a surname of Ciscosystems. Cisco has liaised with Linden Lab to allow them their own surname. Importantly, only Cisco employees can use this surname.

.

So what happens if an account was created in Kaneva, There or any world for that matter and the person creating the account called themselves ‘something’ Ciscosystems? Has that person breached a corporate branding policy?

Continue reading →

What Interoperability means for Marketers. Part 1

Buckle up.

.

The road to Interoperability is going to be bumpy. But ultimately, totally necessary for the widespread adoption and second phase of virtual worlds. This series of posts is going to fully explore the marketing implications of Interoperability.

.

Firstly, Interoperability is annoyingly difficult to spell and write not to mention a tongue-twister, so I hereby shorten it to IOB.

Secondly, if you’re saying to yourself Interoperwhat?, then here’s a definition….

.

IOB is the term used to explain how an avatar can move (teleport) from one virtual world to another. So for example, you’re logged into Second Life and on-demand you can effortlessly teleport into There taking your avatar with you. This is the What.

.

I’m not going to discuss the How or the Who (too much). This isn’t the platform for the technical aspects of IOB. Companies like IBM, Cisco and Linden Lab are making the first small steps in discussing how to make IOB possible.

.

More importantly, from a marketing perspective, the How isn’t actually of interest. The fact that one day it will be made possible is of interest, hence why this series of posts is being written. Continue reading →