Competition Thematic for VWs and MMOs
Later this week we’ll be publishing the Q1 2013 Radar Chart. In the meantime, here’s a thematic visual showing the levels of competion (companies) by genre and age for the virtual world and MMO sectors.
The dominance of the Kids and Tweens age group can be clearly observed below, especially in the Casual Gaming, Existing IP and Education/Development sectors.
This thematic looks at the number of operational companies (as opposed to the size of user bases) and marks each genre and age range into High, Medium, Low and Zero competition. The upcoming Radar Chart will be naming the actual companies in the market and indicating their operational phase.
That is all (for now).
Q1 2013 Radar Chart Coming This Week
Later this week we’ll be released the Q1 2013 Radar chart. The Radar chart shows Virtual Worlds and MMOs by genre and status (live, in-development, closed) and is a great tool to assess sector competitiveness.
In addition, we’ll also be publishing a thematic chart visualising the hot (and not so hot) spots – useful for companies trying to understand the underserved segments.
If you’re currently working on a VW/MMO that’s coming out of stealth mode, or one that didn’t make our Q1 2012 release (which you can order here), please let us know asap!
Universe Chart for Q4 2012 Now Ready to Order
Back by popular demand, we’ve been busy bees over Xmas getting the KZero Universe chart ready. Shown below is an extract from the Universe chart showing virtual worlds and MMOs with an average user age between five and 10.
As per usual, high res versions of the Universe chart presentation can be ordered here, Also included within this report is our forecast for Active Users as at Q4 2012 as well as Market Penetration rates and the Usage Multiplier.
Here’s the chart for the five to 10 year old segment.
Poptropica remains the dominant player in this segment both in terms of their overall user base size as well as forging into new business development efforts such as licensing – a strategy becoming increasingly popular amonst the larger worlds as well as the more aggresive smaller players, such as Fight My Monster.
Founded in the UK, Fight My Monster used (and continues to use) TV advertising very early after launch. The company has also inked several licensing deals which is quite unique considering their relatively small (compared to other UK VWs such as Moshi Monsters and Bin Weevils) user base of circa 2m.
Neo Geo’s Animal Jam continues to expand in line with year one growth, closing Q4 with circa 9m registered users. Another property with ties back to TV is Toonix from Turner. Toonix has pushed through 1m registered accounts in just over a year.
For the full high-res set of Universe charts as well as other data-sets such as Active Users and Market Penetration rates, order here,
The KZero Universe chart is sponsored by Dubit.
Extracts from this report as well as other KZero insight will be presented at the upcoming Digital Kids conference in New York City next month.
Branded Virtual Goods, Q3 2012 update
Branded Virtual Goods is a category we love at KZero and also one we helped create back in 2007. Here’s the Q3 2012 update of the much-viewed Slideshare presentation containing the virtually definitive A to Z.
Lessons in Launching Virtual Worlds. Mistake #3: We’re Going With a Monthly Subscription
This is number three in our series explaining common mistakes made by companies launching virtual worlds.
Now the focus switches towards the monetization strategy – the pricing method that users will be encouraged to use.
Most virtual worlds targeting the KT&T marketplace opt for a monthly subscription pricing method – charge users a fixed monthly fee and provide them with enhanced/premium features. These premium items take the form of access to special areas, bundles of virtual goods, additional features and the like.
Worryingly, the pricing decision for a lot of virtual worlds and MMOs in the sector isn’t a decision at all. Instead, worlds just opt for a monthly subscription based on the following thinking:
- If it works for Club Penguin then it will work for us
- It provides parents with peace of mind – no unexpected charges
- Having a recurring monthly subscription is less hassle
You get the picture.
And in principle the arguments above are sound. And indeed, virtual worlds such as Moshi Monsters, Jumpstart, Club Penguin and Wizard 101 all have monthly subscriptions. But, these worlds have become ‘brands’ in the space helped a great deal by spending sizable amounts on user acquisition (see mistake number 1).
However, there’s a much bigger picture that many virtual worlds completely miss.
Firstly, switching costs.
What many virtual worlds do not realize is that users who are most likely to be monetized are already being monetized somewhere else, i.e. a competitor virtual world. In this instance, the new virtual world has to shift the user’s attention away from their existing world and move them to their world. It’s important to bear in mind that the propensity for KT&T to have monthly subscriptions in more than one world is virtually zero, due to the issue of switching costs and an unwillingness for parents to be paying for two at the same time.
Another issue is brand awareness and reputation.
When a new virtual world launches, brand awareness and more importantly brand reputation is zero. Nobody knows and nobody cares. Yet worlds think parents will willingly pull out their credit cards and commit to a monthly subscription. If only it was that easy.
A far better pricing strategy is using microtransactions (MTX) at lower price points than a typically monthly subscription (which, surprise surprise is usually $5.95). Allowing users to purchase a virtual currency (which can be used to buy all the elements that a typical monthly subscription offers in smaller chunks) makes the payment decision much easier for parents.
Not only is the paying amount lower (read: cheaper) but also less riskier than a monthly subscription. This neatly side-steps the concern parents have that their child will get bored playing in world X and move onto to another one (whilst still paying for the first).
Implementing lower -priced MTX has an additional benefit of widening the paying user catchment. In other words, for a lot of users, paying $6ish a month is simply not an option. Whereas paying as low as $1 for a ‘taste of the good life’ is much easier to swallow. You just have to look at the app market for evidence of this. By lowering the paying entry threshold you can go after those users that haven’t been monetized by other worlds.
The bottom line is that pushing users over the monetization line is about showing KT&T whats on the other side of the fence. If you have a great VW then users will want to stay as paying users – give them a really low hurdle to jump over, then focus on raising it once they’re over it.
As a closing PS, another point missed by many virtual worlds is that by having a monthly subscription – a take it or leave it fixed price for premium content, you’re actually setting the upper limit of what users can pay. This means that the really engaged paying power users that reside within KT&T worlds can’t get anymore out of their world over and above the monthly subscription level and benefits. This is a poor longer-term strategy.
PPS: KT&T virtual worlds and MMOs with virtual currency based MTX convert three times as many users as subscription-only worlds and have a monthly ARRPU on average 20% higher.
How Minecraft Gave Virtual Worlds a Second Life
A blog post from New World Notes today announced that Minecraft is now the popular game on XBOX Live. And in fact it’s more popular than Call of Duty. That’s kinda cool.
Minecraft has been an incredible success in a very short period of time by offering users the ability to create. Millions of users (we’ll call them that for now) are spending long periods of time crafting (creating) digital objects. Why? Just because they can. It’s Lego 2.0 with added zest.
The secret sauce is the interaction with these objects, other users and the environment. New digital worlds are being created and entire ecosystems of interaction are taking place.
What has really assisted in the growth of Minecraft is the passionate audience of fans behind it. And, in particular the videos of user creations and activities inside the world. This ‘Machinima’ enjoys multi-million views in really short periods of time. In turn, virality grows off the back of widespread exploitation of social graphs.
It’s interesting to see the different ways that users play / engage with Minecraft. Some re-create real world places – these are known as mirror worlds. Others create race tracks, space stations and even environments from other games such as World of Warcraft. Pop culture is also prevalent. Combining this and the viral element, here’s a video on YouTube that was released four day ago. It’s just about to hit 5m views. Not bad.
Minecraft is enjoying explosive growth and 2012 has seen them move from circa 28m registered accounts right up to 45m. This is the largest proportional increase in the entire sector, including the kids, tween and teen markets. The Universe chart extract below shows the Q1 2012 position (we’ll be releasing Q3 numbers soon).
Minecraft has become a global brand in around two years and the great thing is that due to the nature of the platform (user generated content), the community is in total control of its destiny – where it goes from here.
But hang on a minute.
Haven’t we been here before with Second Life?
Millions of users. Media awareness. Content creation. Communities.
All of these elements were (and still are) in Second Life. This has been the case for many years. The funny thing is that Second Life is still a great business. It’s just that the media got bored and moved on. People think that Second Life has closed, just because no-one really writes about it anymore. But the community didn’t get that memo and still enjoy being inside Second Life.
But is was never cool in a way that could be interpreted by a wide age range. Who, in turn could tell their friends. Maybe the avatars looked too real, and at the same time too weird. Maybe it was the brands that swept in and mainly left a bad-taste in users mouths. We were fortunate to create one of the best performing campaigns in Second Life, with our L’Oreal Paris campaign. Or perhaps it was the age limit of having to be at least 17 to register for Second Life. Sure, these was a ‘Teen Grid’ for slightly younger users but that’s not cool. You always wanted to go to your older brothers party.
Minecraft has a user base that spans a wide age range. We estimate the average user age to be 14 but that hides a spread from eight right through to 98. Minecraft is UGC (user generated content) for the masses. So, the users are kids, tweens, teens and adults. The power-house of user base growth has come from the teenage market, with YouTube boosting K-Factors and brand awareness and other community-led channels such as Facebook have made virtual worlds cool again. In fact, the Minecraft Facebook fan page has just reached 5m fans.
Shown below is a google trends chart comparing Second Life and Minecraft.
Minecraft is the red line and totally over-shadows Second Life in blue, which is remarkable because the media interest in Second Life was intense in 2007 – 2008. It’s just that Minecraft has become more popular by an order of magnitudes.
The bottom line here is that fundemantally. giving the people the power to create whilst socializing is one of the most compelling features of virtual worlds. It may even be the most important aspect. Second Life provided one of the first platforms for people to do this. But the growth of Second Life was ultimately hampered by some brick walls. The younger audience has propelled usage of UGC and Minecraft and and in many cases it serves as the ‘graduation destination’ for the millions of kids and tweens that migrate from the highly successful younger virtual worlds such as Moshi Monsters, Club Penguin, Stardoll and others.
This sector is in good hands and promises much. As consumers and businesses, we will continue to use virtual content creation and engage with virtual social networks. Drawing from a previous point and closing this article, the ability to create and share will be the driving force in the future of the sector and virtual worlds like Minecraft give us glimpse into where we are heading. Albeit currently in large pixel format……but that’s cool.
And the most popular European country for virtual worlds is……
Here’s some analysis showing what we call ‘The Virtual World Multiplier’. This is a metric that compares the total number of cumulative registered accounts against the total addressable market of virtual world users and potential users. We have data on a per age and per country basis for both these variables.
The Multiplier can be used to assess the relative popularity of virtual worlds between countries and the individual ages of users within them. A high multiplier is created by a combination of factors such as:
- High proportion of the addressable market already playing in virtual worlds
- Users having accounts in more than virtual world
- Users having more than one account in a virtual world
Users creating accounts in more than world can indicate a high awareness of virtual worlds in general and a willingness to explore new ones. Users having more than one account in a virtual world is an indication of retention and repeat visits. These three factors combined produce a score that indicates the relative popularity.
The Multiplier is a tool we use when assisting our clients with territory planning – deciding which markets to focus user acquisition into. It’s particularly useful for assessing emerging markets such as South America and Asia.
The full dataset (30+ countries and individual age-centric datapoints from the ages of 4 to 13) can be requested via email@example.com.
Here’s a sample chart showing the European multiplier for the combined ages of five to 13. Interestingly (and surprisingly for some), Sweden has the highest Multiplier in Europe – assisted strongly by Stardoll, as well as good take-up from non-Swedish worlds such as Moshi Monsters and Club Penguin.
Perhaps unsurprinsgly the UK comes in at second place. Moshi obviously assists this metric, as do other companies such as Fight My Monsters and Bin Weevils. Multiplier aside, the UK has one of the highest country ARPPU’s in the world as well as well above average paying user converison rates.
US Kids and Gaming Devices report
Here’s an interesting Slideshare report from Dubit. The presentation relates to US kids and their usage of game devices.
Universe Chart Slideshare presentation
Quick stat: Top 15 Virtual Worlds
Yesterday we released the Q4 2011 Universe chart along with updated market numbers. Extracted from this analysis, here are the top 15 virtual worlds for under 25′s by total cumulative registered accounts.
Universe chart Q4 2011: Avg User Age 10 to 15
The release of our Q4 2011 data headlined with total cumulative registered accounts reaching 1.7bn (read that post here). Here, we’re showing a segment from the Universe chart for virtual worlds with an average user age between 10 and 15. This age segment is the largest in the sector, closing with 787m registered accounts as at Q4 2011. Here’s the segment.
Looking at virtual worlds with a heavy focus on user generated content, Roblox and Minecraft reside within this age segment with 3m and 18m users respectively. Expect these worlds to post significant increases in users during 2012. Of course, we’ll be following their progress.
Virtual World registered accounts reach 1.7bn in Q4 2011
Strong growth in the virtual worlds sector throughout 2011 saw total cumulative registered accounts reach 1,772m at the end of Q4 2011. This growth was driven by booming user bases from worlds such as Poptropica, Habbo, Moshi Monsters, Stardoll and Club Penguin.
Encouragingly, whilst the top-tier larger worlds (with over 50m registered users) continue to attract users and leverage their brands, mid-tier worlds (10m to 50m registered users) such as Bin Weevils, Wizard 101, Minecraft, Meez and Fantage also posted positive increases.
The table below shows quarterly numbers by major age range.
The 10 to 15 year old segment continues to set the pace in the space, closing with 787m total cumulative registered accounts in Q4 2011, with the 15 to 25 year old (average user age) element coming in second highest with 596m total accounts.
The chart below shows total cumulative registered accounts by major age range.
We’ll be posting the Universe chart segments on here very shortly, but in the meantime you can get a sneak peak over on our Facebook page.
The full KZero Universe chart presentation with high-res imagery can be ordered here.
Quick stats: VWs by Size and Region
Following on from a recent client request to see virtual world registered accounts by major region, here’s a quick chart visualising the findings.
The data is based on cumulative registered account data from Q2 2011 and clearly shows the dominance of Western Europe and North America. Keep an eye on South America and Eastern Europe though, with Brazil and Turkey (classified into Eastern Europe) on the rise.
Some Monsters are for Nurturing, some are for Fighting
Leading UK virtual world Moshi Monsters is getting a lot of the limelight at present with various brand extension strategies such as toys, tv and music. Hot on their heels are Bin Weevils, going from strength to strength from a user acquisition perspective. Now there’s a new contender in the mix, or rather a Monster – Fight My Monster.
Whereas Moshi Monsters leverages a core play mechanic of Nurturing (definition:Interested in looking after their avatar and pet if applicable. Likely to be younger boys and girls, plus older girls), Fight My Monster focusses on pvp battles adopting a trading card style mechanic. Of course, like most other worlds and online games in this demographic there’s also a raft of mini-games.
Fight My Monsters is growing relatively quickly, up to 300k users since their launch in Jan 2011 (91% from the UK). The chart below shows registered account growth (summer holidays are always good for acquiring users in the KT space).
Average session lengths are also on the rise, indicating a strengthening user engagement relationship. Continue reading “Some Monsters are for Nurturing, some are for Fighting” »
A Slideshare presentation about Slideshare presentations
Sharing is something we like to do at KZero. And, over the years we’ve shared a great deal of research and insight about the virtual worlds sector.
In fact, we only have one report that we don’t provide for free – everything else is shared, made available on request and viewable on Slideshare. To date, KZero reports and presentations have amassed over 320,000 views on Slideshare, so we’ve done a little presentation showing some data about the reports.
- Total views: 324,410
- Email shares: 592
- Tweets: 158
- Favourites: 356
Our most popular report on Slideshare is the old Kids, Tweens and Teens report (the newer, better version of this report is our only premium report), with 192k views to date. Second place goes to our Virtual Worlds 2011 report, approaching 20k views. Here’s our Slideshare presentation about Slideshare presentations.
Fans flock to Virtual Worlds on Facebook
A year ago we looked at the popuarlity of Facebook fan-pages for a number of popular virtual worlds, including those with users under 13. The results, i.e. the number of respective fans for each virtual world were not surprising, with the larger worlds enjoying a higher number of fans than the smaller ones.
The chart below shows the same analysis one year on. Across the board – increases. But of course that’s to be expected as these virtual worlds (and most others, regardless of target market) use Facebook for a variety of reasons. And, of course Facebook itself is grown.
Some worlds actually use Facebook to communicate directly to parents of their users, whilst others promote events and competitions. Another growth area is using Facebook during beta trials to both recruit new users and communicate progress. Probably the area with the biggest potential is embedding virtual worlds directly into Facebook itself. More about that in a future post.
Habbo maintains pole position with a huge number of fans (in reality they actually even more fans then we’re showing in the chart but we’ve taken the fan-page with the highest following).
They’ll be breaking through 1m fans and on the tails of IMVU pretty soon. We’ve taken IMVU out of this analysis because this focus is on KT&T.
Gaia has grown massively during the last year with 500k fans now with Hello Kitty Online (note – a young brand) coming in with over 300k fans.
Another future post and supporting report will look right across the spectrum of all virtual worlds using Facebook as an acqusition and retention tool.
Moving on, some of you may look at the chart above and comment that Facebook itself has grown significantly over the same 12 month period so seeing increases in the fan-pages of virtual worlds (and any other group on Facebook) shouldn’t be a surprise. We asked ourselves the same question and did some further analysis. Continue reading “Fans flock to Virtual Worlds on Facebook” »
Branded Virtual Goods – The (Virtually) Definitive List
We’ve updated our popular presentation, Branded Virtual Goods – The (Virtually) Definitive List. This presentation shows screen-shots of branded virtual goods and branded virtual experiences taken from MMOs, social games and virtual worlds. A high-res version is available by requesting it here.
Just in case you were wondering, there’s now over 150 brands!
Age profiles: Chimpoo, Poptropica and Stardoll
This is the second post in this series looking at age profiles of popular virtual worlds (the full report is the next post). This post looks at two of the largest worlds, Poptropica and Stardoll, along with an ‘up and comer’ in the form of Chimpoo.
Stardoll has over 116m registered accounts with a user base pretty well distributed between North America and Europe. Poptropica has over 170m registered accounts and is strongest in the US. Chimpoo has 4m registered accounts with a user base largely from India. Here are the age profiles for these three worlds.
This chart highlights the impact that different play patterns and user experiences have on the ages of users inside virtual worlds.
For example, Stardoll is primarily dress-up, with users (predominantly females) customising their avatars with clothing. This is an evergreen play pattern, appealing to tweens just as much as teens.
As this post from 2008 shows, Stardoll even resonates with the Mothers of users, with over 60% playing Stardoll alongside their children and of this group, another 60% visit Stardoll without their children. Continue reading “Age profiles: Chimpoo, Poptropica and Stardoll” »
Age profiles: Moshi Monsters vs Bin Weevils
We’re a few days away from releasing our latest report on user age profiles in the Kids, Tweens and Teens virtual worlds market. So, in the meantime, here’s a look at two UK-based worlds gaining significant traction – Moshi Monsters and Bin Weevils.
Our age profile analysis visualises the ages of registered users in a simple to understand chart. First up – Moshi Monsters. The chart below compares 2011 data.
The sweetspot user age is 11 to 12, showing a one year increase from last year, indicating that Moshi is doing a great job with user retention – not surprising given the amount of brand-driven marketing they’ve been doing.
The profile has also widened slightly from last year into younger ages. As this brand continues to grow, the virtual world element becomes part of a larger brand framework and therefore kids are interacting with Moshi via multiple touch-points.
This ‘widening’ might also be as a result of increased efforts in the US. Year on year, the US element of their userbase has proportionately grown against the UK. The chart below shows the top eight countries for Moshi Monsters. Continue reading “Age profiles: Moshi Monsters vs Bin Weevils” »
KZero Radar chart Q2 2011
Hot off the heels of our updated Universe chart, we’ve just released the updated Radar chart for the same period (you can order the Q2 Radar here). The Radar chart shows virtual worlds by category and stage of development. Here’s one of the segments showing Education,/Learning, Fashion/Lifestyle and Music.
Major developments this quarter (and year)….. Education and Brands/IP are leading the charge in terms of new worlds in development. Continue reading “KZero Radar chart Q2 2011” »
Slideshare presentation of Q2 2011 Universe chart
KZero in The Guardian: Virtual worlds: is this where real life is heading?
The registered population of online communities such as Second Life and Blue Mars is greater than that of the US and Europe combined. Today’s residents of the simulated universe aren’t just socialising but doing big business.
The Brand New Worlds
Here’s a presentation giving an overview of how real world brands are creating their own virtual worlds and MMOs.
For a pretty-much complete list of all brands inside virtual worlds, including third-party activity, click here.
Augmented Reality Brand Tracking
Here’s an update to our presentation showing the use of augmented reality by brands and companies.
Young Children’s Play in Online Virtual Worlds
This is a great article by Jackie Marsh from the University of Sheffield. The piece, ‘Young Children’s Play in Online Virtual Worlds’ is taken from the Journal of Early Childhood Research. If you’re in the kids virtual world or MMO space I’d recommend taking the time to read this. I’ve ‘bolded’ the parts that I think are particularly interesting.
Virtual worlds for children are becoming increasingly popular, and yet there are few accounts of children’s use of these worlds. Young children are spending increasing amounts of time online as technology continues to create significant changes in social and cultural practices in the 21st century.
Some of children’s online interactions can be categorized as playful in nature; however, play and technology are frequently positioned as oppositional. In this article, I explore the tensions surrounding the relationship between play and technology and relate it to similar discourses concerning the concepts of ‘real’ and ‘virtual’. I then move on to consider the growing popularity of virtual worlds with young children and examine the way in which the worlds have been marketed to children and parents/carers on the basis of their propensity to offer online play in a safe environment. The article provides an overview of two virtual worlds currently targeted at young children and draws on a survey of primary children’s use of virtual worlds in order to identify the nature of play in these environments.
One hundred and seventy-five children aged 5–11 completed an online survey and 15 took part in group interviews in which their use of virtual worlds was explored. This article focuses on the data relating to 17 children aged from five to seven years who used virtual worlds. Findings indicate that virtual worlds offered these young children a wide range of opportunities for play and that the types of play in which they engaged relate closely to ‘offline’ play. The implications for early years educators are considered. Continue reading “Young Children’s Play in Online Virtual Worlds” »
Q2 Radar Slideshare Presentation
Q2 Radar: Brands and Learning dominate new entrants into virtual worlds sector
We’ve updated our Radar Charts for Q2 2010. These charts show both existing virtual worlds and platforms in development (closed beta). This time we’ve included MMOs into the Radar charts and we’ll be building out this list over time.
As a whole, the virtual worlds and MMO marketplace is changing quite dramatically. Whereas 12 months ago a concept we called ‘Chasing the Penguin’ was the main thrust of activity. This related to completely new companies setting up shop funded on the basis and excitement caused by the Disney acquisition of Club Penguin. This led to a massive influx (60+ new worlds) entering the marketplace going after the lucrative kids and tween sectors.
Of course, there’s only so much time kids have available and only so many times these kids can convince their parents to part with their hard-earned cash – we’re seeing casualties now.
As our last post explained, the virtual world and MMO marketplace is now shifting to being brand dominated as companies with existing customers, channels and operations see the value in sliding the brands and offerings into immersive environments.
The uplift in new platforms being developed as a result of these brands can be seen in the Radar segment shown below.
The other key segment seeing increased activity from new entrants is Education and Learning with a wide range of companies across many different educational areas developing their offerings. Continue reading “Q2 Radar: Brands and Learning dominate new entrants into virtual worlds sector” »
Dubit report into VW popularity in the EU now available
The full presentation from the Dubit research is now available from our Report Order section. This report looks into the popularity of kids virtual worlds across the EU.
Radar chart Q1: Sports, TV/film/books and content creation
Updated Radar charts for Q1 2010
Here we go folks, our updated Radar charts for Q1 2010. On an overall basis we’re seeing a shift from ‘Chasing the Penguin’ and now we’re seeing efforts in the following areas:
1. Learning and education. Expect a growing number of virtual worlds entering the marketplace focusing on various elements of learning, education and self-development. These are focused around the eight to 12 year old segment.
2. Real-world IP: We’ve discussed this particular segment in length for a long time. This relates to existing popular brands creating virtual worlds to accompany movies, toys, TV and other IP-led properties.
Here’s the first segment (Education/Learning, Fashion/Lifestyle and Music). The full report can be ordered here.
Kids virtual world popularity across the EU
Here’s the master summary of the Dubit research looking at kids virtual worlds. The countries included in this research were: UK, France, Germany, Holland, Sweden, Finland, Norway and Denmark.
Below is the summary slide ranked by the % of the sample that has played/registered each world.
Club Penguin comes out top with 14.5% of the sample having played it. Second place goes to Barbie Girls with 13% with Habbo in third. Interestingly GoSupermodel beats Stardoll based on this research, albeit by a couple of % points.
Looking at this EU summary from a company-location perspective… Continue reading “Kids virtual world popularity across the EU” »
Virtual world popularity in Germany
The chart below presents the findings.
Barbie Girls came out top in France and this is also the case in Germany, with 10.7% of the sample indicating usage. Club Penguin is in second place, tieing with World of Warcraft (which didn’t make a dent in the UK or France numbers). GoSupermodel and Jumpstart are in fourth and fifth position respective. Continue reading “Virtual world popularity in Germany” »
Virtual world popularity in France
Following on from our first post looking at the popularity of virtual worlds across the EU, starting with the UK, this post focuses on France. Dubit used a total sample size of 1,145 kids aged seven to 10. The data-points in the charts refer to the percentage of kids in the sample who indicate they have played/registered each virtual world. The sample was given a reasonable comprehensive list of major virtual worlds.
So, here’s the chart for France.
Whereas Club Penguin is the most popular virtual world in the UK, in France Barbie Girls comes out on top with 14.7% of the sample stating they’ve played it. Dofus, with a very strong French user base comes in at second place. The average user age for Dofus is 22, so the users featured in this analysis are at the youngest edge of the user base. Club Penguin pops in at third place for France. Continue reading “Virtual world popularity in France” »
EU VW research for kids aged seven to 10
Our good friends over at Dubit run regular Internet usage market research into the EU market place (with North America coming soon). Their January 2010 research has been made available to us, which means they’re added to our Xmas card list. You can follow Dubit on Twitter here (for Dubit Informer) and here (for the Dubit Platform).
The entire presentation will be made available on request in a day (update: the report can be ordered here) or so and for those of you looking for a peek inside, this is the first of a series of posts digging into the data. As a side-note, most people don’t realise that the EU market is the most dominant in terms of overall users in the kids and tween sectors, with conversion rates and ARPPU’s also higher than North America. We know why – do you?
The slide shown below presents the UK marketplace for boys and girls aged seven to 10.
Club Penguin leads the pack with a considerable advantage over the rest, although it’s interesting to observe the wide spread of worlds featuring in the UK market. UK-based Moshi Monsters comes in at second place with um, Farmville in third – obviously these kids are playing alongside an older brother/sister who is actually 13 or older right?! (probably a topic for another post). Mafia Wars also features. The same (kids signing up at an age younger than the TOS) can be said for Habbo of course. Continue reading “EU VW research for kids aged seven to 10” »
Universe and Radar presentation
Here’s a Slideshare presentation containing our Q4 2009 Universe and Radar analysis.
Q4 2009 Universe chart: Teens and Adults
Our last post (assessing Kids and Tweens) showed the five to 10 year old segment and 10 to 15′s grew 17.8% and 6,8% respectively from Q3 to Q4 2009. Here, we cover the older sectors and first up virtual worlds with an average age user from 15 to 25. Here’s the Universe chart.
IMVU continues to dominate this age range, growing to 46m registered accounts in Q4. One to watch in this range is French VW Dofus, with 30m registered accounts, mainly in France. Of note, IMVU now publishes active users (concurrency) live on their site (with over 100k online at time of writing this post). Continue reading “Q4 2009 Universe chart: Teens and Adults” »
Q4 2009 Universe chart: Kids and Tweens
As published in our last post, the overall market of total registered users in the virtual worlds sector reached 800m in Q4 2009. Here, we delve into the younger segmented of this market, Kids and Tweens.
Virtual worlds with an average age user between five and ten reached a total of 179m in Q4, up 17.8% from 152m. The chart below contains the Universe segment for this age range.
Commentary on this age range in terms of drivers for growth and upcoming worlds is explained in this post based on the Radar. The full report on Q4 growth containing both the Universe and Radar charts can be requested here.
Here’s the segment for the ten to 15 year old group. This segment (the largest in overall size) grew 6.8% quarter on quarter from 367m to 392m. Continue reading “Q4 2009 Universe chart: Kids and Tweens” »
Virtual world registered accounts reach 800m
For those of you not attending Engage Expo today, here’s a first look at our latest Q4 2009 virtual worlds research…… (we’ll be presenting this in the Virtual Worlds and Games by the Numbers: A look in the market research session).
At the end of Q4 2009, total registered accounts in the virtual worlds sector reached 803m. This is a 19.7% (132m) quarter on quarter increase, from 671m registered accounts in Q3. The table below breaks this out by average user age range.
Over the last four quarters on a registered accounts basis the market has almost doubled, going from 419m to 803m.
Looking at this growth by age range (the average user age), the 15 to 25 year old segment demonstrated the highest growth in Q4, representing a 65% increase from 117m to 193m. Strong performance from IMVU and Habbo drove this uplift.
Second highest growth came in the youngest age range (five to 10 year old) and as the just released Radar chart shows, this segment, in particular for virtual worlds catering to education and development is hotting up. Quarter on quarter growth in this segment was 27m, moving from 152m to 179m.
The full report covering growth in the virtual worlds sector can be ordered here.
Here’s (of course) a few of charts. Continue reading “Virtual world registered accounts reach 800m” »
2010+ VW growth areas Part Three: Reputation Management
As the use of virtual worlds for business purposes increases, as well as the general P2P trade of virtual goods and services, we expect the concept of Reputation Management to grow. By this, we mean being able to determine the trustworthiness or ‘peer-rating’ of avatars.
This is a field needing a solution because of the increased usage of virtual worlds in B2B/enterprise as well as many people choosing to have alter-ego’s or alternative identities in virtual worlds. People that create alternative identities in virtual worlds are classified as Immersionalists whereas users who view their avatar as an extension of their real world persona are called Augmentalists.
The graph shown right may highlight the presence of Immersionalists in virtual worlds.
It’s based on Second Life data and also factors in the roles that Innovators and Early Adopters played in the initial growth of Second Life. In this context, as the number of accounts per unique resident grew (we assume from the presence of Early Adopters) then the users actually had on average more than one account – perhaps indicating a primary Augmentalist-based account and a secondary Immersionalist account. Continue reading “2010+ VW growth areas Part Three: Reputation Management” »
2010+ VW growth areas Part Two: Music
An extract from the KZero report, Virtual Worlds 2010:
The music category has been quick to move into virtual space already, with MTV leading the pack with its suite of micro- worlds, themed towards specific content. We anticipate this trend to continue through 2010 and beyond.
Music appears to be a binding force in virtual environments, mainly in the younger demographics and particularly tweens and teens. At this age, they already have an appreciation of music (and a growing affinity towards specific genres and artists).
We see the following areas driving growth for music in virtual worlds.
- More IP-led platforms: By this we mean specific TV shows and music-based companies creating their own worlds, in order to support offline activities and ‘hand-hold’ audiences for longer periods.
- Musical virtual goods: iTunes has proved the strength of micro-transactions and music. It’s no surprise that we expect songs as well as music-related virtual goods being aggressively pushed into the space, either into existing worlds or into new worlds.
- Event simulcasting: Already a tried and tested mechanic, the concept of simulcasting – broadcasting real-time events such as concerts and music shows directly into virtual worlds, is expected to grow further into 2010. This type of promotion allows world owners (and the accompanying third-parties) to charge for access/viewing, using the content as the value. Habbo has already delved into this category and is actively involved with music – their latest foray being the European Music Awards.
- Virtual Artists: Not so much a 2010 prediction, but certainly a little further down the road we expect a brand type category to arise – the virtual celebrity, or more specifically, the virtual artist. In this scenario, we’re seeing new virtual concepts coming to market allowing users to create their own music. On this basis, extrapolating the feature, we don’t think it will be too long before younger users actually become ‘virtually famous’ for their musical creations. Watch this space. Continue reading “2010+ VW growth areas Part Two: Music” »
Brands in Virtual Worlds – updated
We’ve updated our popular Brands in Virtual Worlds slideshow, now including campaigns from Hush Puppies, NBA, Skittles, Metropark, Ice T and Campion Platt in Gaia, Digital Dollhouse, There and WeeWorld.
October KZero news round-up
Updated Radar charts for Q3 2009
Earlier this week we published the updated Universe charts for Q3 2009. You may have noticed we’ve slightly changed the format between the Universe and Radar – the Universe chart now only shows live or open worlds. Worlds in development, semi-stealth and closed beta are now only shown on the Radar chart.
In terms of new virtual worlds, growth is slowing down in the casual gaming and socialing segments for KT&T. This is actually a good sign because there’s some over supply here, caused by a rush of VC money into the space in late 2007/early 2008 – we call it ‘Chasing the Penguin’.
Segments seeing an uplift in terms of pending worlds include fashion (Chasing the Stardoll?), education and development (here’s an interesting podcast on this theme) and thirdly branded worlds. We expect branded worlds to be a dominant force in 2010 – real world brands creating virtual platforms for their IP. In fact, we’ve just completed a business planning and strategic project for Ubisoft in this category – more about that later.
Here’s a segment from the Radar chart. The full set can be seen and high-res versions ordered here.
Habbo and Stardoll show largest growth in Q3 2009
Overall growth in registered accounts grew by 92m to 671m in Q3 2009. From the 92m total growth figure, 53% came from the top eight virtual worlds.
Drilling down into the major players, Habbo and Stardoll grew the greatest, with 13m and 12m increases respectively. The graph below shows quarterly growth (from Q2 to Q3) for the ‘big eight’. Habbo and Stardoll quarterly growth accounts for over 25% of the total market growth.
Although it’s the Grand-Daddy of the sector, Habbo continues to show dominance in the virtual worlds sector from a user acquisition perspective, with an increasing number of brands chosing them over other worlds to market into the teen segment – the latest being MTV and the EMA’s. Stardoll is also attracting brands in-world, the latest being the Baby Phat range from Kimora Lee Simmons.
New KZero report: Virtual Worlds 2010+
We’ve been rubbing our crystal balls again, thinking about the growth areas for the virtual worlds sector. And, we’re delighted to say our findings are now contained within the latest KZero report – Virtual Worlds 2010+.
The report can be requested here and is ideal for companies considering entrance into the virtual worlds market as well as Investors seeking insight into the key growth areas and emerging business models. An overview presentation is here.
The report covers the following areas:
VW registered accounts increase by 92m to 671m in Q3 2009
Overall total registered accounts in the virtual worlds sector increased by 92m to hit 671m in Q3 2009. This growth represents a 15.9% quarter-on-quarter increase (from Q2 to Q3), compared to a 38.2% increase from Q1 to Q2. So, a strong increase of close to 100m new registered accounts, albeit at a slower rate. Full universe charts can be ordered here.
Overall quarterly numbers by age group are shown below. Note: account data is aggregated to the overall average age of each world.
The youngest age segment (five to ten year 0lds) was the dominant sector in terms of growth, with 38m new registered accounts, a 33.3% quarterly increase. 15 to 25 year olds had the second largest % increase, growing 18.2% from Q2, representing 18m new registered accounts. The ten to 15 year old group increased by 33m in Q3, an 9.9% increase.
Secondly, quarterly increases by age segment.
Updated Universe chart for Q3 2009
The Q3 2009 Universe Chart is now available. Commentary and analysis will follow in subsequent posts. The major headline is that overall total registered accounts in Q3 2009 increased by 92m to 671m from Q2.
The Universe Chart segments can be seen (and high-res versions ordered) here. Here’s the five to ten year old group, just to tickle your tastebuds…
Growth forecasts for the Virtual Worlds sector
We’re excited about the growth in virtual worlds, very excited in fact. As we release our forecasts for the sector, perhaps it’s time to have a quick look back over a frantic few years…
In an unfortunate way, the global credit crunch got in the way a little (the understatement of the year – not just for VWs of course). Late 2006 was the start of things. Sure, worlds like Habbo, There and Second Life were around pre-2006, but it wasn’t until brands started moving into SL that media awareness grew and, of course, users began to notice the metaverse.
Without a doubt, 2007 was the year of Second Life, with over 100 brands setting up islands. This created major attention, good and bad. And nevertheless, while No Brand is and Island, this marketing surge took virtual worlds mainstream. Linden Lab has a lot to be thanked for – Virtual Worlds were on the map in 2007. Additionally, we can’t forget about the Disney acquisition of Club Penguin – the catalyst for Kids, Tweens and Teens (KT&T) related business plans to pop up at an astonishing rate, ‘Chasing the Penguin’ as we call it.
2008? This was growth across many segments. Mirror Worlds came into play, more KT&T worlds were launched and suddenly the sector was rocking. The longer established worlds continued to grow their multi-million registered user bases and the new worlds started to battle it out.
Then we moved into 2009. Everything was looking rosy until the economy stepped in and slowed the launch of new worlds due to lack or drop-off in funding. Interestingly, ARPPU’s didn’t really take a hit, as users continued to spend money in-world. However, generally the growth and momentum seen in the sector upto the end of 2008 was impacted. But, as we start to move towards 2010, what does the future have in store? One thing’s a dead cert – we’ll be producing lots more charts – you can see them all here.
Lot’s of brand-new concepts in the VW space is one area that’s really exciting. More KT&T worlds? Absolutely – we think this age segment will continue to drive growth. And we’re optimistic about older worlds catered towards adults (in an ‘adult’ sense as well as propositions aimed at more mature audiences), with learning and education plus gambling being key genres to watch.
A rapid increase, driven largely by media sector companies creating IP-driven platforms for the toys, TV programmes, films and other properties. Just as almost every KT&T property has a website, we expect them to have a VW or at least presence in virtual worlds – along the ‘Theme-Park’ approach discussed in the past.
We expect growth past 2010 onwards to come from multiple areas. Education and older age ranges will supplement KT&T growth. Also socnet extension from ‘pages to places‘ is a natural movement. Combine all of this and we get to our 2012 forecast of 900 virtual worlds.
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.
The Long Tail for Virtual Worlds
New companies continue to enter the virtual worlds space all the time. Some looking to emulate the success of existing worlds and others seek to create unique genres and reach new audiences with different types of propositions and approaches.
We’ve taken our registered account analysis and sliced it to take a Long Tail approach to analysis. What this shows is the current dominance of a very small number of large worlds and the growing number of smaller (note: newer) VWs in the space – it’s a small number of Goliath’s vs a lot of David’s.
The bulk of VWs reside in the circa 1m and below category – for now – because we all know the David vs Goliath story. Time will tell.
The next graph, shown below takes a cumulative approach. The top 10 virtual worlds on a reg acc basis account for over 75% of accounts. The top 20% of worlds represent over 90% and the top 30% account for over 97%.