Thinking Virtually: Helping Companies Succeed in Marketing to the Metaverse

 

From Audi
digitally marketing their new electric car
to a slew of virtual
reality themed Hollywood blockbusters
, focusing on virtual worlds as a
potential revenue source is all the rage. But as companies have repeatedly shown by high-publicity failures, marketing in the virtual world is a tricky proposition.

Pixels and Policy looks at how to effectively market products to eager eyes in the Metaverse.

Continue reading Thinking Virtually: Helping Companies Succeed in Marketing to the Metaverse

Why So Many Organizations Struggle for Success in Virtual Worlds

Palomar_002-712712One of the most interesting and
controversial discussions currently taking place amongst the virtual
world cognoscenti is also one of the most vexing for the companies and
government agencies hoping to capitalize on the growing communication
power of virtual worlds.

Despite the best efforts of
developers like Cisco, the Department of Energy and a mix of other
public and private organizations, many more corporate/government Second
Life installations fail than survive and thrive.

Pixels and Policy takes a look at why.

Continue reading Why So Many Organizations Struggle for Success in Virtual Worlds

Touring the Corporate Graveyards of Second Life

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     Cisco's virtual hospital is a spooky wasteland.

In the spirit of Halloween, we thought it would be interesting to take a look at some of the corporate ghost towns scattered across the fickle landscape of Second Life.

InfoWorld did a great write-up on the history of corporate failure in the Metaverse, and one thing is certain: Large or small, tech or apparel, Second Life has swallowed up some of the best companies the real-world has to offer.

Pixels and Policy takes a look at why so many companies are failing in the Metaverse, and why the U.S. government is the newest body in the graveyard of corporate hopes.

Continue reading Touring the Corporate Graveyards of Second Life

Designer Sells Wal-Mart Clothing Line Exclusively in the Metaverse

American Apparel made waves when it promoted its clothing through a virtual store in Second Life. Then it failed miserably . By and large, Real-world corporations found the Metaverse unwelcoming to their attempts at bridging the real-virtual gap. Now designer Norma Kamali is reversing the trend by selling her new clothing line exclusively in the Metaverse.

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      American Apparel even chained the virtual doors.

Kamali will sell her "Norma Kamali for Wal-Mart" clothing in the fashion-obsessed virtual world Roiworld, famous for bringing fashion snobbery to an entirely new virtual level.

For their part, Roiworld was so happy to have Kamali sign on that they gave her an entire section of the world as a modern day conquest prize.

An interesting point made in an article from PaidContent, the journal of soulless virtual branding and marketing:

What makes this interesting is that Kamali isn’t selling virtual goods in Roiworld.com—which is what brands like K-Swiss and Rocawear have done in the past—the designer is using the game as a platform to sell real clothes.

As anyone who has spent time in virtual worlds can attest, the vast majority of avatars are testaments to self-idealization. Heaving busts, tall, thin, tan, most bear little resemblance to the millions of people on the other side of the computer screen. Consumers purchase clothing based on how they'd like to look, and nothing enables that more than a customizable avatar.

It'll be interesting to see if Kamali's unique take on virtual marketing works out any better than American Apparel or the sea of corporate husks floating lifelessly through Second Life. If nothing else, she's gained invaluable publicity from the unprecedented move.

Blue Mars Aims to Terraform Virtual Commerce

Blue Mars is pretty. I mean really pretty. It runs on the same engine that built Crysis for crying out loud. But what's so compelling about Blue Mars isn't its otherworldly beauty, but how the developers are making use of its virtual commerce engine. Ignoring the teleporting and role-playing Blue Mars offers, its true gem is its commerce system. In this, it owes much to Second Life.

The first time I swapped American dollars for their Linden equivalent, I wondered aloud about the potential of this system to upend the norms of commerce. At the time, Second Life was the only online world that not only encouraged trading in real currency for game currency, but also provided a system whereby players could legally turn their game currency back into real dollars.

What Second Life did to virtual commerce is stunning. Users now draw real-world incomes from the sale of virtual goods, goods which they own in every sense of the word. Now Blue Mars expands on the Second Life commercial system in a way that will become standard over the next few years: Blue Mars makes no illusion about its desire for corporate users.

Remember, for a long while Second Life frowned on letting the corporate establishment into the game world. Even today the corporate storefronts of Second Life sit mostly vacant, victims of the enforced apathy of Linden Lab. This will change with Blue Mars. Corporations finally have a bosom buddy in the online world.

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           Blue Mars is a hottiecaust

It's no secret that Blue Mars has approached large corporations, but it is a shame. So much of Second Life's vibrance comes from the fierce competition of thousands of small producers vying for the best product.

If corporations are given equal footing, as they were in in Second Life, they are unable to compete. One need only look at corporate shops for evidence of this. My worry, however, is that corporations are given a leg-up by Blue Mars.

How, you ask? Because Blue Mars is a world filled with professional content licensed from third-party studios. It reduces the world to little more than a virtual shopping mall populated by well-known corporate names. Now, we received a comment on this blog from Glenn Sanders, Community Director of Avatar Reality – the papa corp of Blue Mars. He was insistent that everyone will be a creator, and urged that we not rush to judgment on a game that hasn't even seen open beta.

I yield this point, but argue that much of the information I've discussed above is already out in the wide-open world. Major third party studios are being brought in to provide an infrastructural base instead of allowing that base to emerge organically. This puts all but the largest mass-producing studios at a marked disadvantage.

Users earn currency by serving as "employees" of these virtual analogues to real-world corporations. The variety of jobs available is wider than mere retail clerk, but the path is the same – instead of a community venture where players have an equal chance to make a living based on skill, Blue Mars stacks the deck against individual entrepreneurship from the very outset.

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   Do we really need a world filled with these?

Now I, like many, signed up to be considered for the Blue Mars beta. I'm just as anxious as everyone else to get my hands on the game and see what it can do, what its infrastructure will look like, and how its economy will function.

Blue Mars will doubtlessly be a prettier game than Second Life. It may well prove more intuitive in its design tools, and boast a more interactive world. But if what we've seen so far is evidence of the path Blue Mars is walking on the content development front, it may well create a definitive rift in the commercial virtual world community.

I don't want my words to be the only ones in this discussion. Post your opinions and comments to get the ball rolling. I'm sure our roving Blue Mars rep Glenn Sanders would be happy to engage in a spirited discussion about what makes Blue Mars tick.