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I am very excited about Wagner James Au‘s new report on virtual worlds for reasons both personal and professional. On a personal level, I love gaming, particularly online gaming, so naturally this research briefing is required reading.
Second and more importantly, I believe Au has done important work by correctly identifying the growing nexus between social networks and virtual worlds. Increasingly, the line between casual gaming, online worlds and social media is blurring, as social networks allow game developers to hook into their platforms. At the same time, consumers are making social networks their gaming hubs, and many of us can’t go a day or even an hour without being notified about our Facebook friends requesting help in Yoville or some other casual virtual world application.
This trend is evident to me as a parent, as my children and their peers hear the early siren song of socially enabled games such as Webkinz or Club Penguin. The tie-together of real-world merchandising and starter-worlds/social networks in Webkinz and the like is brilliant (if a little creepy) and something that tells me the growth of these virtual social environments will continue unabated.
Au does a great job of explaining this trend and others, and helping those interested in this space identify how the market for virtual worlds and MMOs will evolve in coming years. So, if you are interested in seeing what trends and resulting opportunities will emerge in this space, I suggest you check out our latest report, Virtual Worlds: Trends and Opportunities.