Legends of Oz Branded Virtual Goods in Blocksworld

Branded virtual goods (BVG’s) are a great way for brands and IPs to connect with target audiences playing games. Typically, virtual goods inside games and virtual worlds based on real-world brands are at least 5x more popular than non-branded equivalents.

We’re one of the pioneers in the BVG arena, having developed campaigns for brands such as L’Oreal Paris inside Second Life and Dancing with the Stars/ Strictly Come Dancing inside Stardoll.

Screen Shot 2014-02-07 at 09.44.23The latest campaign we’ve forged is between upcoming Legends of Oz movie and popular 3D building game Blocksworld, from Linden Lab (creators of Second Life). Blocksworld has over 1m downloads from the App Store and over 400,000 user-generated worlds have been created.

With the new branded virtual goods set, players will be able to create and play with content and characters from the upcoming animated feature film, slated for release on May 9, 2014.

Screen Shot 2014-02-07 at 09.37.26

The Legends of Oz set will include: Continue reading “Legends of Oz Branded Virtual Goods in Blocksworld” »

Virtual World and MMO Universe chart: Tween/Teen segment for Q3 2013

Yesterday we published the Q3 2013 update of the Universe chart, starting with the Kids sector. This chart shows virtual worlds and MMOs with an average user age of 10 and under. The kids chart is here. Today we’re shifting focus towards the Tween and Teen segment, containing VWs/MMOs with average user ages between 10 and 15. Here’s the chart…

kzero universe chart q3 2012 seg2Whereas the kids segment is dominated by a very large world at the upper age range (Club Penguin), a handful of long-established worlds (Neopets and Webkinz) and a smaller (but growing) group of worlds, the Tween/Teen sector is more distributed.

At the younger range of this segment, Poptropica is clearly the leader, with 292m cumulative registered accounts. But, this end of the age range also has power-players such as Moshi Monsters (85m accounts), Bin Weevils (huge in the UK and growing overseas), and Moviestar Planet. Moviestar Planet has quite dramatically grown its userbase in the last 24 months, assisted to a high degree through TV advertising, coupled with localisation into several languages.

Moving older into the age 12 – 14 year old range, Wizard 101, Roblox and Minecraft are slugging it out in the 30-35m account bracket, albeit with different game mechanics.

Finally, shifting up to the 14 – 15 year old segment, girls become more engaged than boys, which reflects the dominance of fashion/dress-up properties such as Stardoll and GoSupermodel, the former just about to hit 250m global registered accounts – and it’s global for a reason as Stardoll has branched out aggressively into new territories.

The full KZero Universe chart is now on Slideshare here.

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Virtual World and MMO Universe chart Kids segment for Q3 2013

Hot off the press, we’ve just updated the KZero Universe chart for Q3 2013. The Kids segment covering virtual worlds and MMOs with an average user age of 10 and under is shown below (and the Tween/Teen chart is here).

kzero universe chart q3 2012 seg1Club Penguin dominates the Kids market for virtual worlds and MMOs and added 20m registered accounts from Q1 2013, taking their cumulative total to 220m.

Other userbases in this segment such as Webkinz, Bearville and Neopets, whilst having large 20m+ cumulative accounts, showed slower growth through 2013.

Inversely, the trio of Knowledge Adventure worlds, namely Jumpstart, Math Blaster and recently released School of Dragons all grew strongly year to date, with a combined total of 26m cumulative registered accounts. These guys are leveraging their expertise gleaned from growing Jumpstart, across into their newer portfolio.

Looking at the newer companies in the kids sector, key themes present include mobile/tablet versions (from launch), cross-platform functionality and real-world brand/IP based plays.

Next up we’ll be publishing the tween/teen segment of virtual worlds and MMOs targeting 10 to 15 year olds. The full presentation is over on Slideshare.

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Engagement Metrics for Facebook and iOS Games: Q2 2013

In addition to our on-going analysis and consulting performed in the virtual world / MMO markets, KZero also offers a full suite of consulting and analytics services for  developers of Facebook and iOS games. This post is the first in a series examining key metrics for popular SocNet games on Facebook along with popular iOS games.By popular, we mean over 100k MAUs in June 2013 for Facebook games and over 100k downloads for iOS games.

To start with, we’re looking at the Engagement Metrics, commonly known as DAU/MAU, or, Daily Active Users as a % of Monthly Active Users. This metric is extremely useful for assessing how often players return to a game during a monthly period.

We’ve gathered this data since Q1 2011 from the following sources:

  • Client Audits: We perform KPI and metric benchmarking for our clients with games in these categories.
  • Game-Supplied: If you don’t ask you don’t get. We receive data on request on an on-going basis from game developers.
  • Market Data: In addition to the two direct data sources above, we gather data from a variety of publically available sources.

To add a further level of insight, we segment the game data into genres, as follows:

  • Casual Games: These are typically 2D games that are very easy to learn how to play but typically have a never-ending game mechanic. Examples would be Tetris, Angry Birds, BeJeweled (at the top end) and sub-genres such as arcade, running and racing type games in the mid-range. These games appeal to users of all ages with a bias towards males.

  • Word/Quiz Games: These are typically text-based (with supporting graphics) that are quiz, general knowledge, logic or solution based. Examples would be Words With Friends, Scrabble and the Puzzler series. These games appeal most to adult gamers, with a slight bias towards males. Age-wise the prime segment is 25 years and older.

  • Nurturing: These are typically graphics-led games involving virtual pets, character/avatar customisation and other games with nurturing mechanics(such as cooking). Examples would be Talking Tom, Tap Tap Hotel, Ovi Pets, Stardoll and other virtual pet games. These games appeal to kids, tweens and early teens with a strong bias towards girls/females.

  • Resource Management: These are typically games whereby users have to gather, harvest and manage assets within a gaming environment which often resembe a 2 or 2.5D virtual world. Importantly though, these games are typically not avatar driven. These games on SocNets heavily leverage the social graph and examples include FarmVille (and ‘X’-Ville variants), Hay Day, Cafe World, Airport City, GalaStories and Sim City. These games appeal most to adult gamers and in particular women aged 30+.

  • Light Virtual World: These are typically games based around the principles of virtual worlds and are usually avatar-driven with elements such as room customisation and socialisation. Examples would be YoVille, Social Life, KingsRoad, Avataria, Habbo Hotel, Happy Life, sMeet, Sanalike and HeroZero. These games appeal most to young and middle-aged adults with a bias towards women.

First off, here’s the Engagement chart for Facebook games, showing quarterly data from Q1 2011 to Q2 2013.

dau mau facebook games

Focussing on DAU/MAU, games with Nurturing mechanics have the highest engagement. This isn’t too surprising due to the underlying game activities related to Nurturing, such as caring for and interacting with virtual pets and avatar customization. It’s a concept well-used over in the virtual world sector for encouraging users to log-in as much as possible. Also, users (and in particular younger ones) can often feel a strong bond and sense of ‘ownership’ to games with the Nurturing mechanic.

The game genre with the second highest engagement (as at Q2 2013) is Quiz games. Quite often these games leverage the social graph meaning ‘friend play requests’ is a key driver for encouraging repeat usage. The use of daily/weekly leaderboards is also a great way of getting users to re-engage with games on a more frequent basis.

The game genre with the lowest engagement metric is Casual Games. These games are often used for ‘quick game fixes’, meaning that they don’t typically have over-arching narratives or reasons to play on a frequent basis – the games can be played in a short user session without the need to continually return to the game in order to advance or level-up.

Here’s the same chart for iOS games.

dau mau ios games

On a like-for-like basis, iOS games generally have a lower Engagement metric than Facebook games.

Nurturing, the top game genre for Facebook games is also the top genre for iOS for Engagement. Quiz games, which is second highest for Facebook games is in third place for iOS games, with Light VWs taking second place. Casual games has the lowest engagement for both Facebook and iOS games.

Next up, we’ll be looking at the Paying User Conversion rate (Paying Users as a % of Active Users).

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KZero Creates a 3D Virtual Healthcare Facility for Amerinet

Following on from an earlier post showing early stage visuals for the Amerinet Virtual Facility (AVF), we’re delighted to present a finished product.

The AVF is a 3D (Unity) environment showcasing over 50 Amerinet supplier products and services. Accessible via browser, Android tablets and iPads, the AVF includes two patient rooms, an operating room, pharmacy and lobby to display a spectrum of solutions from Amerinet suppliers that can help drive more meaningful improvements to Amerinet members.

Here’s the presentation:


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Amerinet Virtual Facility: Slideshare for Early Stage Visuals

And following on from the last post, here’s a Slideshare presentation showing early stage visuals for the Amerinet Virtual Facility.



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The Amerinet Virtual Facility: early stage visuals

When Amerinet (a leading US healthcare solutions organization) wanted to develop a 3D virtual medical facility, they called in KZero.

We’ve been working with them for several months developing the Amerinet Virtual Facility (AVF). A full 3D virtual environment containing a wide range of healthcare and medical products/services. The AVF is a sales and marketing tool, allowing customers to view and interact with products, obtain contract details and request further information.

The AVF is being developed in Unity and once launched, will be accessible via browser, iOS devices and Android tablets.

Here our some early stage visuals (and here’s the Slideshare presentation) showing the initial design approach and product models. As we move towards full launch we’ll be publishing visuals and fly-throughs of the full facility.



Latest Trailer for ‘Legends of Oz: Dorothy’s Return’ Movie (with added KZero goodness)

Here’s the latest trailer for the upcoming Legends of Oz: Dorothy’s Return movie. Created by Summertime Entertainment, KZero was tasked with creating the virtual world strategy to support the film. Development of the virtual world is nearing completion, coinciding with the pre-launch promotional activity for the film. Watch this space!



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Are you on the Radar?

The KZero Radar chart is a visualization of all the operating and in-development virtual worlds and youth MMOs in the marketplace.

Alongside the Universe chart, the Radar is often used at industry conferences, academic presentations and in investor slidedecks to easily explain the sector. The Q1 2012 Radar is shown below and an extract right.

Well, we’re in the process of updating the Radar and we will also be re-adjusting the category names to reflect a greater number of IP and brand-led virtual worlds in the market.

We’re already aware of a lot of the in-development worlds and MMOs (because we assist them in getting to market) but there’s bound to be some we’re not aware of.

If you’re developing a virtual world or MMO targeting the KT&T (kids, tweens and teens) sectors, let us know and we’ll make sure you’re on the Radar!


EDGE Magazine: How children are transforming gaming

EDGE Magazine has just published a great article about ‘How children are transforming gaming‘. The piece contains references to how kids are being drawn to digital brands as opposed to those originating on TV and includes companies such as Rovio, Stardoll, Dubit and Fight My Monster. Dylan Collins from Fight My Monster is quoted as saying:

“The next Disney is going to be a company that can produce really amazing content, but also one that can develop tools for kids to create their own. At some point in the near future, you’re going to see the first 15-year-old millionaire being created – [teenagers] now have the tools and frameworks to create their own games, apps and movies.”

KZero gets a good mention as well:

Meanwhile, Nic Mitham, CEO of KZero, believes that “the majority of new massmarket kids IPs will begin life as games, then port over to other media channels”.

The size and influence of kids’ gaming raises the question of why major social publishers seemingly haven’t embraced the trend yet. “Social game companies do not have direct access to the kids market [because], primarily, Facebook can’t reach these younger gamers,” says Mitham. “Social gaming companies are heavily reliant on leveraging the Facebook social graph and exploiting push mechanics, email, messaging, etcetera. [The kids market requires] a totally different mindset, and requires much more agile marketing and user profiling.”

Full Article on EDGE Magazine.


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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.

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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.

Stardoll and Club Penguin are the leaders in this age segment both with 150m registered accounts. Following up behind these two are Moshi Monsters and Neopets with circa 70m each.

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.

Our Facebook page has the full set of Universe charts and you can order the full KZero Universe chart presentation with high-res imagery can be here.

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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.

From Q3 to Q4 2011, total cumulative registered accounts grew by 282m (an 18.9% quarter on quarter increase), compared to a 141m increase in users from Q2 to Q3 (a 10.4% increase).

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.


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Kids virtual worlds gatecrash the BAFTA awards

The British Academy of Film and Television Arts (BAFTA) nominees have just been announced. Looking through the Children’s Awards Nominees highlights both the growing popularity of virtual worlds as well as the emerging trend to tie film and TV properties into them.

In the Animation category, Muddle Earth from CBBC is nominated. This property has an accompanying virtual world created by Dubit.

In the Comedy category, Horrible Histories is nominated, which also has a virtual world.

In the Feature Film category, Harry Potter and Kung Fu Panda are in the running, with the latter prepping Pottermore for launch and the former already with a virtual world in the market.

In the Interactive category Mindy Candy are short-listed for Moshi Monsters.

There’s also a special Kid’s Vote BAFTA award.

Within this award section Cars 2, Harry Potter, Kung Fu Panda and Transformers feature in the Film category. Cars has an accompanying world called World of Cars and there’s a Transformers Universe MMO in the works being developed by Jagex.

In the Web section we’re delighted to see two of our clients, Bin Weevils and Stardoll nominated alongside Club Penguin and Moshi Monsters.

The British Academy Children’s Awards will take place on Sunday 27 November. Let the voting battles commence!

Our latest report, The Golden Triangle, explains the strategies available to IP owners in the kids TV and Movie sectors. Order it here.

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New KZero report: Toys, Media and Virtual Worlds – Creating the Golden Triangle

We’ve just released our latest report called ‘Toys, Media and Virtual Worlds – Creating the Golden Triangle’.

The report, in presentation format, aims to provide professionals in the toys, games, TV and movie sectors with guidance and insight into the key opportunities and strategies available in the virtual worlds sector.

Importantly, it also recommends how to align all three elements into a cohesive community building and revenue generating platform.

Areas covered include branded virtual goods inclusion, community and awareness building, research and development, character development and many others.

Also included in the report are examples of projects deployed to date. The free report can be requested here.


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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” »

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.


So what do we see here?

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!



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Age Profiles: All worlds

This is the final post in our series looking at age profiles of popular virtual worlds. Here’s the full presentation:

VW age profiles 2011
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Shown below is the summary chart containing all worlds in the analysis.

Post one looked at Bin Weevils and Moshi Monsters, post two featured Chimpoo, Stardoll and Poptropica and this chart now pulls in age profiles from Habbo and SmallWorlds.

For SmallWorlds the chart shows a fifth of the user base aged 13 then a flattening out at the 7% – 9% level from 15 t0 18.

Interestingly, Habbo shows nearly an exact opposite trend.

In the last post the topic of play profiles and visual appearance was highlighted as a key factor that determined the ages of users attracted to worlds. Shown below are the avatars of the worlds featured.


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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” »

New report, Virtual Worlds 2011+ now available

We’ve just made our latest report, Virtual Worlds 2011+ available. You can order it here.

This report identifies and explains the emerging trends in the virtual worlds sector and includes insight into:

  • Kids, Tweens and Teens
  • Platform convergence
  • Music
  • Gambling
  • Online dating
  • UGC
  • Socnet extension
  • Education
  • Virtual goods (consumer and B2B)
  • Mirror worlds
  • Mobile devices
  • Metabrands
  • Branded virtual worlds

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Q1 2011 Radar chart: Music, Fashion and Education

Here’s the next segment of the Q1 2011 virtual worlds Radar chart. This one shows live and in-development worlds in the education/learning, music and fashion categories. The first segment is here and includes existing IP’s/brands, sports and content creation.

In the educational space new platforms continue to come to market as companies are attempting to ‘crack the nut’ of learning in virtual environments. The balance trying to be achieved is between fun and learning. Of course, the last thing kids and tweens want to do once they’re out of school is be taught at so it’s all about creating engaging learning-based activities and games. Knowledge Adventure has actively pursued this strategy and are doing well with their first property – Jumpstart. And, their second world, Math Blaster has just entered the market. Another company, Baobab Planet from Spain are a new entrant to the sector and one to watch.

The music sector is also doing well with established properties continuing to grow and some interesting new concepts coming to market. This segment is explored and assessed in the new KZero report, Virtual Worlds: 2011 and Beyond. This report is currently being offered exclusively to attendees of the upcoming Engage! Expo and will be available for download from our report section in about a month. The full Radar chart can be ordered here.

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Q1 2011 Radar chart: Existing brands, sports and content creation

After a short hiatus the Radar chart is back with a bang for 2011. The first segment is shown below and contain live and in-development virtual worlds. This part of the Radar shows worlds based on sports, existing brands/IP’s (books, movies and TV mainly) and content creation.

The sector for existing IP’s being turned into virtual worlds is the hot-spot for 2011. New entrants and in-development projects are mainly based on existing brands with a heritage, i.e. they are well-known established properties such as Dorothy of Oz, The Ministry of Silly Games (Monty Python), Star Trek, Tom and Jerry and Back to the Future. These are properties with existing fan-bases, therefore providing major opportunities to leverage the incumbent awareness into active users.

The full Radar chart can be ordered here.

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Dorothy of Oz branded social gaming suite launches on Facebook

Our suite of branded social games for the forthcoming Dorothy of Oz movie and virtual world has recently launched on Facebook.

If you’re feeling creative then the China Princess Dress Designer is for you. Social game wise, you can let off some steam with the Marshall Mallow Gumball Cannon or pit your wits against the Bricks of Oz. Enjoy!

You can learn about the overall online strategy for the movie here.

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Animal Jam continues the trend in Branded Virtual Worlds

Demonstrating the continuing trend for existing brands to create their own virtual worlds (Branded Virtual World), this week we’ve seen the launch of Animal Jam.

This property, from National Geographic also highlights another key trend in the sector, channel convergence.

NatGeo worked with Smart Bomb Interactive on development and Jadi Communications for the marketing strategy and execution.

We were tasked by Jadi to review the marketing strategy/messaging and provide a competitive analysis of the landscape in order to ensure correct positioning.

This is a kids and tween play with the benefit of rich NatGeo content.

With the launch of National Geographic Animal Jam, National Geographic for the first time is offering content from its extensive multimedia resources as an integrated component of a virtual world for young adventurers and their families. Players can access video features, photos and facts about animals, plants and insects in a game world that encourages them to move from the virtual to the natural world by exploring nature right in their own neighborhood or backyard. Continue reading “Animal Jam continues the trend in Branded Virtual Worlds” »

Britain’s Next Top (Virtual) Model

Stardoll has signed a deal with Britain’s Next Top Model (shown on the Living channel) to promote the show and give away virtual clothes. Exclusive previews of the series are being shown in the Stardoll Cinema.

Taken from New Media Age:

Living has expanded the deal for the whole series following a teaser video that saw more than 100,000 plays. It earlier worked with Stardoll to promote America’s Next Top Model, which attracted 740,000 video views.

Stardoll has a wide user age spread so this partnership makes sense as it targets multiple ages. Two thirds of Stardoll members Mothers play the site without the daughters.

It’s also another good example of how virtual worlds are moving their brands into new channels.

Stardoll leads the pack in terms of registered users in the fashion space, but they have competition, as shown in the Radar segment below.

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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.

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” »

(In and) Out of their World – How Brands are Moving Across Platforms

We’ve highlighted many times the opportunities presented to brands within the virtual world and MMO category, primarily from engagement and monetisation perspectives. Linked to this is another trend we identified of leveraging different platforms to synergise brands. This is a post about how these trends are rapidly transforming and driving the sector.

Real world brands having virtual worlds is not a new concept. Barbie Girls and Webkinz were early pioneers of this strategy, amassing multi-million user bases in short periods – and importantly, in most cases much faster than ‘pureplay’ virtual worlds which at present make up the bulk of the sector.

We’ve just updated our Radar charts showing existing and new worlds and MMOs by genre. Related to this, we thought you’d be interested in seeing how brands are moving across different platforms. This is shown in the diagram below (which we’ll be updating on an ongoing basis).

We’ve placed five different channels (TV, Movies, Toys/Games, Consoles and Books) around the virtual world platform. From here we’ve shown how a brand has moved from one of these channels into virtual worlds. For example, BuildaBear started life as a toy retail operation and then augmented their virtual world proposition, BuildaBearVille. Kung Fu Panda similarly created a MMO off the back of the movie – so on and so forth. Continue reading “(In and) Out of their World – How Brands are Moving Across Platforms” »

The Star Team social gaming app goes live

Cheesy alternative headline: Blasts Off for Star Team!

Our social gaming and virtual world strategy for Star Team blasts off today. Star Team is an action-adventure story about a group of students attending an intergalactic space academy who face innumerable challenges when inadvertently rocketed into the farthest regions of space.

We’re in the process of creating the virtual world/MMO strategy and business plan for Star Team incorporating the user journey and experience, virtual goods tie-in and game mechanics.

Development of the virtual world has been awarded to Dubit and Brainwave Studios.

The first phase of our plan relates to social gaming, with the Star Team Academy games launching today on Facebook (here’s the Fan page), with an aggressive roll-out onto a range of third-party gaming sites.

We’ve developed a suite of space-related mini-games and challenges designed to sniff out potential recruits for the Academy.

Good luck!

The KZero Facebook page is here.

Building the (virtual) Yellow Brick Road

KZero client Summertime Entertainment is enjoying our full range of services in support of their upcoming animated movie Dorothy of Oz. We were appointed earlier this year to provide strategic services relating to the development of the virtual world, virtual goods and social gaming elements.

With the movie coming out early 2012, our focus has been on developing the virtual platforms to build pre-launch awareness of the movie as well as provide online destinations for fans (and monetisation of course). All online efforts are designed to bridge the Wonderful Wizard of Oz franchise to a new generation.

We’ve created the end-to-end business plan and model for the virtual world, leveraging both the Dorothy brand and the movie. This effort includes the in-world feature sets and user journey as well as game/questing mechanics, socialisation mechanics and the supporting virtual goods strategies. Now we’re working alongside Dubit to build-out the world and bring it to market Q1 of next year.

Here’s some concept artwork for the movie. Continue reading “Building the (virtual) Yellow Brick Road” »

Radar chart Q1: Sports, TV/film/books and content creation

Here’s the second segment from our updated Radar chart for Q1, 2010. The first segment is here and the full report can be order from here.

kzero radar q12010 seg4

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.

kzero radar q12010 seg3

KZero services:


Business Planning


Product Development

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.

dubit eu allClub 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” »

Radar chart: Toys/games, fantasy and mirror worlds

Following on from our Universe chart posts for Q4 2009, we’re delighted to release the Radar charts. These charts show, be genre, virtual worlds either live or in development. The chart below shows three segments, Toys/real world games, fantasy/questing and mirror worlds.

kzero radar q409 seg2

For the Toys and real world games segment, we’re expecting a lot of movement. Mattel has lead this segment with Barbie Girls and we’re now seeing Hasbro/EA move into the market with the Littlest Pet Shop Online (LPOS) and Ubisoft with Imagine, launching shortly (Shameless plug alert – both are KZero consulting clients). And let’s not forget about Lego Universe. Continue reading “Radar chart: Toys/games, fantasy and mirror worlds” »

Q4 2009 Radar chart: Music, Fashion and Education/Development

Throughout 2009 and certainly for the majority of 2008, almost all the focus in the KT&T virtual worlds space was in casual gaming and socialising.

Now, we’re seeing a different trend, with worlds catering towards education and development being the hotspot in terms of upcoming worlds.

The chart below shows Education/Development, Fashion/Lifestyle and Music.

kzero radar q409 seg3

You can order the full report analysing growth in the virtual worlds sector here. Our report, Virtual Worlds 2010+ details the major drivers for growth in these categories. Continue reading “Q4 2009 Radar chart: Music, Fashion and Education/Development” »

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.

kzero universe q409 5-10

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” »

VW User Profiles: Miss Bimbo

Virtual fashion site Miss Bimbo attracted its fair share of media attention in 2008, mostly relating to the potential negative themes of the site and their impact on young girls. Looking at the user data, it would appear that Miss Bimbo actually attracts an older audience than the media would lead us to believe. Interestingly since launch over 2m registered accounts have been created. Here’s the age profile for registered, active and paying users.

miss bimbo user data.016The highest represented age proportionately for registered and active users is 19, with mid to late teens also well represented. Continue reading “VW User Profiles: Miss Bimbo” »

News from the KZero client roster: Gizmoz and Daz3D merge

Picture 2Some coverage about new KZero clients Gizmoz and Daz3D.

Official press release:

DAZ 3D and Gizmoz Merge to Become Premier Publisher of Personalized 3D Characters, Software and Accessories

Fuels Growth of Virtual Goods Market for Improved Gaming, Virtual Worlds, and 3D Modeling and Animation; Benchmark Capital, Highway 12 Ventures and Columbia Capital Lead Funding

Draper, Utah and Tel Aviv, Israel – Dec. 16, 2009 – Seizing the opportunity to meet the increasing and diversified expectations of the virtual goods market, DAZ 3D and Gizmoz today announced a merger that will create the foremost online marketplace for high-quality and inter-compatible digital characters and accessories. With the largest community of active digital character artists, the merged company will allow users to experience personalized digital goods and identities across any platform.

“We are excited to announce the formation of a company dedicated to delivering digital goods with unprecedented life-like characteristics ideal for social networks, cross-platform gaming, 3D animation and development,” said Eyal Gever, president of the merged company and CEO and founder of Gizmoz. “By offering the most advanced mass-market 3D character creation technology, combined with a highly robust marketplace of 3D content, the company is perfectly in line with virtual goods market growth expectations of $3 billion by 2010.” Continue reading “News from the KZero client roster: Gizmoz and Daz3D merge” »

Fox News report on virtual worlds

Sharon Duke Estroff (the Undercover Mom) goes into kids and tween virtual worlds to figure out how users are treated, both from other kids as well as the companies themselves.

So far she’s ‘gone undercover’ into Barbie Girls, Poptropica, Stardoll and Club Penguin. I was asked in to be part of the report in order to balance the story. (that Universe chart gets everywhere).

Continue reading “Fox News report on virtual worlds” »

New KZero report: Luxury Brands and Virtual Goods

luxury brands coverToday we’ve released our latest report – Luxury Brands and Virtual Goods.

The report explains the options available to luxury brand marketers when considering virtual goods strategies.

Companies referenced in the report include L’Oreal Paris, Hublot, Rayban, Mercedes Benz and Armani.

Examples of marketing initiatives and campaigns explained in the report:

  • Product launches
  • Competitions
  • Metabranding
  • Customer engagement
  • Brand extension
  • Advertising

The report can be ordered here.

KZero services:


Business Planning


Product Development

2010+ VW growth areas Part One: Branded Worlds

Our latest report, Virtual Worlds 2010+ explains the key growth areas emerging in the sector over the next three years. This is a series of posts taking each area in turn and breaking out the analysis.

We think one of the major contributors to growth in the KT&T category will be branded worlds – virtual worlds created by real world companies in the toys, games and media spaces.

Picture 9We’ve already seen some indication of the power of branded worlds, namely with Barbie Girls, Webkinz and Buildabearville (shown right in a segment from the Radar).

The MTV suite of worlds are also worthy of note, albeit slightly less successful (in terms of comparative registered accounts), perhaps due to targeting a slightly older age group.

All three of these branded worlds amassed multi-million registered account user bases in a relatively short period of time – something pure-play virtual woods typically struggle with.

Here are the reasons why branded worlds are set to be major growth areas in 2010+:

1. Brand awareness

The importance of The Brand is often over-looked by new VW companies. Sure, having a technically sound platform and product is one thing and of course, viral marketing is great (as a theory) but potential users need to know about the world. Branded worlds have a huge advantage over pure-plays because they have incumbent levels of real-world brand awareness – they have customers that already have a relationship with the brand.

We’ve recently completed a consulting project for a global games publisher on one of their tween brands, providing guidance and strategy on the in-world user experience/journey, financial model, marketing/acquisition and monetisation strategies. What blew us away right at the start was the incredibly high level of brand awareness in several key territories – an ideal start for a virtual world.

Furthermore, creating the virtual world was almost a ‘no-brainer’ strategy as it’s simply an evolution and extension of their existing brand.

Continue reading “2010+ VW growth areas Part One: Branded Worlds” »

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.

KZero services:


Business Planning


Product Development

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.

KZero services:


Business Planning


Product Development

kzero radar q309 seg4

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.

KZero services:


Business Planning


Product Development

major virtual world q309 growth.012

Wiglington and Wenks gaining traction

KZero client Mediafreaks has been hard at work for several months on their upcoming VW The Travels of Wiglington and Wenks.

The Travel of Wiglington and Wenks (we shorten it to W&W) is adapted from a series of books of the same name written by veteran businessman John Bittleston. We’ve been working with the team at Mediafreaks on a range of areas, including market positioning, in-world features/functionality, registration processes, launch and pre-launch marketing and PR (VWN coverage here).

W&W is an interesting mix of concepts – story-based (from the books), with a healthy dose of history, a dash of geography and overall, a compelling, fun experience with educational benefits.

The great news is that although the launch isn’t slated until the end of year, registrations and interest are very high, forums are growing in popularity and usage and the end product is coming together extremely well. Marketers interesting in sponsorship opportunities in W&W can order a mediapack here.

Here’sthe promo video …

Appearing on Metanomics (Unpredictable Spaces) today

I’ll be appearing on my second Metanomics show today (12pm PST/SLT, 8pm GMT). The show is featuring Jon Himoff from Rezzable Productions. We used the Greenies Kitchen as part of the L’Oreal campaign and I’ll be on the show to offer my thoughts on brand placement in Second Life. More information here.

Post-event: Here’s some snaps from the show…