Last week, when I read the news about Vivox’s voice plug-in coming to Facebook, it got me thinking about what the integration of voice capabilities into general-purpose, consumer facing social networks would mean. Like most people, my initial reaction is to cringe. You can’t blame me for feeling that way, especially if you’ve experienced the interruption of Facebook Chat messages from random connections popping up willy-nilly during work hours. That said, when I get past my anti-social tendencies and think of the potential that voice adds to the social network and its associated apps, I can’t help but think this may be, well, game-changing.
Investors poured $237 million into virtual world-related startups and payment systems last quarter alone, according to a report released today by industry trade show producer Engage Digital, signaling venture capitalists’ continued enthusiasm in the market. (Nearly $600 million in funding went into this sector for all of last year.) And ask the average tech-savvy person to name a major virtual world, chances are they’ll mention World of Warcraft or Second Life. Both MMOs certainly get the lion’s share of media attention; according to Nielsen Games, they often generate the most total monthly player minutes among all PC-installed worlds. However, as the recent investment news suggests, WoW and Second Life are only part of the story; neither world is truly representative of the MMO sector, nor reflective of where the larger virtual world industry is growing. Read More about WoW and Second Life Don’t Tell the Whole MMO Story
While everyone in the game industry was following the latest news from GDC last week, I happened to notice an MMO milestone happening on Facebook: a casual virtual world called YoVille passed 5 million monthly active users.
Launched in May of last year, YoVille’s user growth rate is faster than that of any virtual world I’m aware of, quickly putting it in the upper ranks of other web-based MMOs, such as Gaia Online, launched in 2003, which reported 7 million monthly actives last Winter, and Habbo, launched in 2000, which reported nearly 10 million monthlies last June. Even more surprising to me, YoVille is only accessible as an app on Facebook and MySpace (where it currently counts 2.8 million users.) Read More about How Virtual World YoVille Got 5M Facebook Users
Game 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=http://digg.com/tech_news/The_Top_10_Money_Making_MMOs_of_2008] Read More about The Top 10 Money-Making MMOs of 2008