The Top 10 Money-Making MMOs of 2008

maplestoryGame industry analyst DFC Intelligence will publish a comprehensive study of massively multiplayer online worlds next month, and was nice enough to give us an advance peek at their list of MMOs and MMORPGs that earned the most revenue in 2008.

The numbers are primarily estimates based on publicly available reports, DFC’s David Cole told me, and are decidedly on the “very conservative” side. The wide revenue spreads reflect the fact that 2008 earnings are still being counted, though more exact numbers are promised in the firm’s Feb. 16 report. “We indicate ranges because these numbers are estimates for 2008 based on where we think these products will end up,” said Cole. However, when the final numbers are reported, the rankings below should remain the same, though “maybe a slot here or there” will change. [digg=] Read More about The Top 10 Money-Making MMOs of 2008

Virtual World Marketing That Works: My Top 3 Tips

So last year, most people decided that marketing real products in virtual worlds like Second Life doesn’t work. Since then, however, I’ve come across some avatar-driven advertising campaigns with very impressive numbers. In Gaia Online, for example, users grabbed over a million virtual copies of a Toyota Scion; in Second Life, a promotion for the IMAX screening of the latest “Harry Potter” movie was credited for boosting the movie’s ticket sales online. Read More about Virtual World Marketing That Works: My Top 3 Tips

Venture Capital Loves Virtual

Startups selling virtual goods and offering virtual experiences are raking in the venture capital these days. Perhaps it’s the fact that virtual gifting hit the mainstream in 2007 or because people are worried about the impact of business travel on the environment, but the virtual world is beginning to get its share of real dollars.

In the first half of 2008, virtual worlds raised $345 million in venture investment, according to data from Virtual Worlds Management, a media company that covers the industry. And while it may be easy to dismiss the virtual economy as frivolous or scoff at the idea of attending a virtual trade show as useless, deriding the intangible misses a crucial point about today’s culture: A lot of it is happening online. Read More about Venture Capital Loves Virtual

Gaia Gets More Cash as Money Pours Into Virtual Worlds

With Web 2.0 fever finally starting to wane, the investor community has been pumping some serious dollars into virtual worlds and MMOGs — about $345 million in 39 virtual worlds in the first six months of 2008. And the third quarter has started off with a bang, with veteran (it was started in 2003) virtual world/online community Gaia Online announcing that it has raised $11 million in Series C funding from Institutional Venture Partners. Gaia raised $12 million last year from DAG Ventures, Benchmark Capital and Redpoint Ventures; its funding now totals $32 million. Interestingly, none of the older investors participated in the latest round. The new money indicates that the San Jose, Calif.-based company might not be profitable just yet.

Last year, when Disney acquired Club Penguin for about $700 million, the conventional wisdom was that Gaia would be the next one to get snapped up. Since then, we’ve heard rumors that the company was talking to quite a few suitors.

The reason there has been an increased investor interest in virtual worlds is because the sector captures a highly lucrative younger demographic, notably teenagers. eMarketer expects the number of teen Internet users visiting virtual worlds to rise to 20 million by 2011 — from just 8.2 million in 2007. And unlike the demographic of the traditional gaming business, which is facing a crisis of attention, teens tend to be a more engaged audience, and are more likely to participate in virtual economies and newer forms of advertising.

Gaia’s attempts at commercialization have met with some resistance from its community — read the comments in response to one of our previous posts. Nevertheless, it still has a thriving community and continues to grow at a rapid clip.

Will It Scale?

That was the question asked of the four panelists on Monday’s Scalability Boot Camp Panel at South by Southwest. The panelists, who represented various consumer sites, all said that at some point in their online ventures the answer to that question was no. As a result they’ve ended up learning how to build network architectures that can support a large number of users.

One way (are you listening Yahoo?) was to restrict launches by making them available to a limited amount of people over a fixed period of time, because no one server can handle all the users of a site hopping on all at once. Another was to figure out what your users want before trying to figure out your network architecture. Blaine Cook of Twitter confessed that when they launched their service, no one was sure what people would use it for, calling it the worst idea ever.

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Do Virtual Worlds know the way in San Jose?

[qi:020] First the good news: virtual worlds are experiencing their own dot com boom. Now the bad news: virtual worlds are experiencing their own dot com boom. Tomorrow and Thursday, the second Virtual Worlds Conference and Expo launches in San Jose; the first one went off last March in New York, when just nine worlds/MMOs were showcased. Six months later, thirty of them will be on hand, many you’ve probably never heard of, and if past history is any guide, just as many you’ll probably not hear much about, afterward.
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