Virtual World Investment: $148M in the Third Quarter

The real-world economy may be teetering on the brink, but investment in virtual worlds is chugging along at a fairly strong clip. Austin-based Virtual Worlds Management calculates the total at $148.5 million this quarter invested in more than a dozen virtual worlds and massively multiplayer online games (MMOs), slightly down from the last two quarters but adding up to nearly a half billion dollars all told in this year alone.

Most of the money went to startups with worlds yet to launch, like the one featured here, a steampunk-themed MMO called The World of Gatheryn. In other words, look for a slew of new titles in the coming years– and, just as likely, a market glut. The bulk of the yet-to-launch sites are aimed at the teens and tweens market. (No surprise, as MMOs for the under-18 set remain the most popular.)

The largest single investment in the third quarter was $70 million in Series C for Trion World Network, which is developing a fantasy MMO and a project for the Sci-Fi Channel. That seems like a gutsy (or foolhardy) move, because both markets are risky: World of Warcraft continues to almost entirely dominate the swords-and-sorcery fantasy space, and science fiction-themed MMOs have historically performed poorly. On my initial read, I’d say the third quarter investment with the most promise is RobotGalaxy, a virtual world aimed at boys, who’ll be able to buy customized real robots in stores, then hook them up to their computers (and the world) via a USB cable.

Disclosure: My Second Life blog is frequently a media partner for Virtual Worlds Management conferences.

Image credit: www.mindfusegames.com

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