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Virtual Worlds: A Business Guide--New O'Reilly Radar Report: Can Real World Businesses Find a Hold in the Virtual World Space?

March 26, 2008

On a first visit to Second Life, visitors are lucky if they can adequately clothe themselves and learn to walk along a path without ending up under water or face to face with a wall, unable to turn around. In fact, put off by the awkwardness of the experience and the steep learning curve, more than half of all visitors to Second Life leave during their first half hour and never return. Why then, do Second Life and other virtual worlds continue to draw so much interest not only from users and would-be users but also from businesses with an eye to profit?

"The most important aspect about virtual worlds to note is that we're very early in the life of such worlds," notes Jimmy Guterman in his introduction to Virtual Worlds: A Business Guide, the latest O'Reilly Radar research report. "Over the past year, some parts of the business and technology press have championed the form--'BusinessWeek' ran a notorious cover story profiling a Second Life entrepreneur--while others have jumped on the form's current limitations to dismiss it as an entire category."

Virtual Worlds: A Business Guide publicly presents the research of the O'Reilly Radar team on this subject for the first time, revealing more about Second Life than has previously been known: who's using it, how it's being used, how the in-game economics work, and more. The Radar team considers Second Life and other virtual worlds from a variety of angles and discusses both their promise and their challenges, with answers to questions such as: What's the real business opportunity in Second Life and other virtual worlds? What trends and innovations point the way to success? Why have some high-profile virtual worlds flopped?

The report examines the phenomena of virtual worlds and their growing popularity, beginning with a comprehensive, in-depth look at Second Life that covers usage and engagement data, economic activity, governance and intellectual property, hot buttons such as griefing and cyber sex, demographics, and in-world popular sites. Other topics include:

  • Virtual Worlds, the Next Generation: the most active users of virtual worlds are not even adults yet. What do children's virtual worlds tells us about the future of the medium?
  • The best of both worlds: fascinating new applications that combine data from real and virtual worlds to give us a better reality
  • Amazon's secretive Questville: the virtual marketplace of Askville
  • A world of virtual worlds: analyzing the successes and failures of the major players in the space

In this unique examination of virtual worlds, the Radar team assesses what businesses are doing now, lays out success strategies for doing business in virtual worlds, and explains why the Radar team itself is bullish on the future of virtual worlds. There is one thing we can know for sure, the team reports: regardless of whether Second Life turns out to be boom or bust, virtual worlds are here to stay.

For a review copy or more information please email kathrynb@oreilly.com. Please include your delivery address and contact information.

Additional Resources:
For more information about the report, including a summary, cover graphic, and excerpt see: http://radar.oreilly.com/research/virtual-world-report.html

Virtual Worlds: A Business Guide Virtual Worlds: A Business Guide
An O'Reilly Radar Report
by Ben Lorica, Roger Magoulas, and the O'Reilly Radar Team
March, 2008 $249.00, 41 pages PDF
1-800-998-9938; 1-707-827-7000

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