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MMOs For Mainstream Business?

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With the success of World of Warcraft, Blizzard has all but achieved a license to print money based on revenue generated from recurring subscriptions and expansion software.

Mainstream companies have taken notice of the growing interest in online gaming and have taken steps to market their respective brands in virtual worlds, particularly within Second Life.

Companies ranging from Coke to Scion can be found within the world created by Linden Lab, and many analysts see the current MMO market as merely an indicator of trends to come within the new few years. In fact, most expect an onslaught of MMO titles to be released over a relatively short period of time.

At this week’s Game Developer’s Conference, publishers and entrepreneurs got together to discuss the long and short term future of massively multiplayer online games, and the increasing interest that mainstream companies have taken in the platform:

MMOs are one of the most popular forms of gaming – and are seen as attractive to big media companies because often they have a subscription revenue model and continue to make money after the game is first released through virtual economies.

With eight million subscribers, World of Warcraft is becoming the gold standard against which all other MMOs are judged. It’s the most successful online gaming environment around, to be sure, but why exactly are mainstream businesses so interested in adopting this particular model?

IBM set up shop in Second Life several months back and has publicly acknowledged efforts to develop customizable virtual worlds geared at revolutionizing the way in which companies share information online. Is collaboration, however, the only upside to virtual environments?

Perhaps there are marketing possibilities as well, as MMOs could represent the next logical step of social networking. Imagine if MySpace was really “your space” in the three dimensional sense, a corner of a virtual environment that you could customize any way you see fit and show off to the rest of the population, while viewing a few choice advertisements in the process.

Then, in a sense, marketing would truly make the world go ‘round.

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MMOs For Mainstream Business?
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