Is the Metaverse Falling Victim to Large Platform Monopolies?

6a0120a51c39be970b0120a597d2b4970b-800wi There's no denying it – despite a worldwide consumer recession and spiking unemployment, virtual worlds are still growing with impressive speed.

A report by the Virtual Goods Summit shows that purchases of virtual clothing, weapons, and accessories will top $1 billion for the first time, and will nearly double to $1.6 billion by 2010.

There's only one thing missing: competition..

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Trademarking Avatars and the Future of Virtual Ownership

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Aimee Weber (TM)

Back in late October I wrote about how how Second Life content creator Aimee Weber sought to have her avatar's name made into a registered trademark. Well, all legal hurdles were cleared and a bit of virtual world history made in the process. 

 

This is a natural progression of any technology that allows individuals to make profit. Many virtual worlds journalists have been predicting an "avatar singularity" – where the user creates and owns a single avatar for use in virtual worlds as far afield as Blue Mars and Everquest.

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Could Standardizing Virtual Worlds Turn Off Consumers?

3059934552_c9b5be27d9 One of the major impediments to widespread use of virtual worlds is standardization. What virtual worlds need for mainstream success, the theory goes, is unification across platforms.

One article argues that this means the ability to carry one avatar between worlds.

Pixels and Policy takes a look at why consumers may not stomach the shift.

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Companies Consider Virtual Employee Standards of Conduct

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Scantily-clad waitresses may move burgers and wings at Hooters, but companies like IBM are less than pleased to find employees involved in virtual worlds dressing in bondage gear and digital phalluses.

A recent press release from industry research firm Gartner, Inc. sheds some light on the obvious reasons why big business might not want its employees' virtual representations dancing around in a Department of Energy-themed ballgag:

As the use of virtual environments for business purposes grows, enterprises need to understand how employees are using avatars in ways that might affect the enterprise or the enterprise’s reputation

We covered the possible professional conflicts of real-world workers indulging in virtual fantasy last week. In light of the Gartner report, this controversial issue deserves a closer look.

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Is the Linden Dollar a Ticking Time Bomb?

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Pixels and Policy reader and virtual world enthusiast Doubledown Tandino left a thought-provoking comment on our article about the lack of competition in the virtual world. Tandino made the argument that attaching a dollar value to Linden Dollars is really a work of fiction:

Linden Lab…says [the exchange rate] is $260L to
$1 USD every day…so it is. and the world believes it. It is fortunate
that the bubble hasn't burst on the fictitious economy.


It's an intriguing argument, so Pixels and Policy decided to take a look at the confidence behind the currency. Is Second Life's economy just irrational exuberance?

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Blue Mars Brings Business-Friendly Adobe Flash Capability In-World

Adobe_flash_1470_1470 Another day, another step forward for Pixels and Policy's most controversial acquaintance, Blue Mars.

This time, though, Blue Mars takes a development step even we can't quarrel with – fully integrated Adobe Flash for interactive in-world 'net browsing.

Pixels and Policy takes a look at what this means for Blue Mars and its competitors.

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Why Virtual Worlds Aren’t A “Global Phenomenon” Yet

The San Jose Mercury News recently ran a telling but misguided piece that described virtual worlds as a "global phenomenon." Despite being tech optimists, we at Pixels and Policy were skeptical.

If virtual worlds are really shaping global thinking and business to "phenomenon" levels, why have we seen so few major mixed-media deals, and virtually no company investment on a scale comparable to YouTube or Facebook? Pixels and Policy investigates.

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Blue Mars Developer Partners with the Smithsonian Institution

6a0120a51c39be970b0120a5c93252970c-800wi Pixels and Policy took its knocks a few months ago for reporting on the content creation and ownership system of the new virtual world Blue Mars, but now it's Second Life against the ropes.

As a recent Business Journal article points out, Blue Mars is making some big partnerships in an all-out bid to displace Second Life as the virtual world of choice for individuals and business clients alike.

Take a look below the fold for more on the story.

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Should Second Life Reduce Land Fees to Encourage Growth?

2424380718_699d8d6fc8 If recent information surrounding the land leasing rates of Blue Mars is accurate, Second Life may have a real competition on its hands.

That's because the Blue Mars land leasing system is rumored to be not only simpler to use, but cheaper than the Second Life tier system.

Starved for competition for so long, Second Life might not be able to compete with an upstart new virtual world unless it re-evaluates its business model and gets back into fighting shape.

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Industry Increasingly Doubtful Over Second Life’s Sustainability

Beatlefest_Blarney_10-09-2006_1077x808pxBashing Second Life is a time honored tradition, but a recent piece critiquing the world's long-term potential may be the most compelling.

Michael Hickins, a writer for InformationWeek, combines the concerns of various media outlets and virtual world skeptics into a readable and disconcerting piece on the potentially grim future of Second Life.

Then again, skeptics have been calling Second Life's death for years. Pixels and Policy investigates whether Hickins has the proof behind his predictions.

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