Pixels and Policy has seen a lot of back-and-forth about the proper role of businesses in the virtual world over the past few weeks.
One thing is certain, however: Like it or not, businesses are keen to enter the Metaverse.
Now a major summit is looking at the hows and whys of business interaction in the virtual world – what will it take to integrate business effectively into spheres of play, and what will happen when companies become a regular part of the virtual scenery?
Pixels and Policy takes a look at what we can expect from the virtual business world.
Easing the Transition
The Virtual Edge Institute is well-known for its efforts to bring the top minds from content creation, game design and business together in search of the best strategies for business success in the Metaverse. Their most recent creation, the Business 3Di discussion group, is by far Virtual Edge's most audacious.
From a write-up on the Business 3Di group:
Business 3Di will address business use of 3D immersive environments and
virtual worlds — for events, customer engagement, product and process
demonstration, classroom and situational training, market research,
data visualization, web video production and other innovative
“We’ll be bringing together the top minds in 3D immersive environments
to assess current technology and platforms; share case studies, cost,
and ROI analyses; and show how you can start using these tools today,
to overcome distance and connect with customers in new and powerful
The virtual world needs groups like this. As much as some may dislike the idea of business involving itself in the Metaverse, the growing importance of virtual communities makes it a certainty that big business will find a commercially viable market within them. Best they know how to do it right.
The majority of real-world companies entering the virtual world won't be successful (read: profitable) until they understand what it takes to market to the Metaverse. Organizations like the Virtual Edge Institute are building a living by explaining the finer points of virtual living. The Metaverse as job creator.
The Real-World Ripple Effect
So why does it matter that the Virtual Edge Institute is focusing its brainstorming power on developing corporate marketing solutions? Well, the end result could mean big business for Linden Lab or a feeling of corporate frustration with the tough-to-crack virtual world. Either one has a ripple effect for real-world developers.
As companies expand and search for new ways to market products, virtual worlds are a natural hub. Though Second Life only boasts 600,000 users so far, the number of active users could easily double by 2012, with the virtual economy expected to outstrip the global economy following this year's explosive growth.
But companies could pass up virtual worlds if they prove too elusive and require too much of a marketing overhaul for possibly limited returns. Companies like Linden Lab must meet real-world companies halfway by simplifying the gameplay experience for potential corporate customers if they want the large-scale corporate investment needed to keep powering forward.
Like it or not, companies like Linden Lab cannot depend on the microtransactions of players if they expect to grow and increase name recognition in the virtual world market. Both Linden Lab and large companies have something in common: Deprived of access to one, the other will wither and fade.