Are Virtual Worlds Now Passe?

    October 10, 2007

There are plenty of virtual worlds around and as proof one can point to the second Virtual Worlds Conference and Expo, which begins today in San Jose and runs through tomorrow.

Over at GigaOM they note that at the first Virtual worlds Conference last March in New York there were only nine worlds featured. At the conference in San Jose thirty worlds will be in attendance. They make a good point that many of the virtual worlds are not well known and will most likely remain in obscurity.

There are some virtual worlds aimed at children that have gained traction including Zwinktopia, Gaia Online, Habbo Hotel, Club Penguin and Whyville. So even while a handful of virtual worlds succeed what will become of those that are left behind?

Wagner James Au writes, "If the last boom’s trajectory of hubris and greed is followed, most of these are destined for obscurity- or acquisition by their wiser superiors. While kid-oriented MMOs have the most active users and thus seem like the safest bet they’re also fragile ecosystems that can fall apart with too much outside interference and commercialism."

So will established virtual worlds and start-ups be able to make money and have wide appeal at the same time? CEO of iEntry and publisher of WebProNews Rich Ord said," It seems that as they try to monetize they also try to become mainstream, which of course is the kiss of death for all things trendy."