OpenSim, IPO, Buffy: Top Three Picks From the Virtual Worlds Conference

Besides the immensely cool Earthscape geotagging app for iPhone (reviewed here), there were three other standout news items that caught my eye at last week’s Virtual Worlds Conference in Los Angeles:

OpenSim Goes Big Time
At last April’s VWC in New York, the young, independent developers involved with OpenSimulator, the BSD-licensed virtual world server, were relegated to presenting their work in a small backroom. Not so in L.A.:

This time, they had their own booth, a conference Innovation Award trophy and a panel in the main hall, which included top developers from IBM and Intel. (Read our introduction to OpenSim on Ostatic.)

Virtual World Currency Buys Company Stock Options!
The most interesting thing about Yogurtistan — a Flash-based casual virtual world being developed in Istanbul, Turkey — is the value of the MMO’s virtual currency: Players who spend it will get actual shares of the company. “Legally, it’s a very difficult thing to do,” company founder Cemil Türün told me, but his team is working on it anyway. (One possibility he’s considering is an open IPO on the first day of Yogurtistan’s launch.) Who knows whether it’s actually feasible, but it’s a fresh way of thinking about virtual items, which generate tremendous revenue for companies.

Multiverse Goes Hollywood
Multiverse is king of the (virtual) world: The MMO platform company announced it’s developing worlds based on “Titanic” and the beloved “Buffy the Vampire” TV series. I’m not sure how much juice remains in the Leo DeCaprio blockbuster, but the richly detailed Buffy franchise stands a good chance of fueling a breakout crossover hit. It’s also an affirmation of Hollywood’s continued interest in merging virtual worlds with their existing IP.

If you attended VWC, what were the highlights for you?

Disclosure: My Second Life blog was an unpaid media partner for the Virtual Worlds Conference.

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