Supporting business in Second Life seriously

But in 2006 things changed a bit when it was clear that virtual worlds like Second Life were questioning that approach. Virtual worlds faithfully represent the notion of presence inside a 3D space. People are “really there” when they interact with each other and with their environment. Things happen in real time. Virtual worlds are a simile of reality, not an abstraction of reality. This lead to new questions: how can this new paradigm be successfully exploited, and, from a corporate point of view, how can it generate new revenue, either directly or indirectly?

In the “wild years” of 2006/7, there was just one solution that everybody came up with: media splash. With the media eager to write about this “brave new world”, it was easy to see that anything that appealed to the media would have a good success of gathering brand awareness. The idea of corporations sponsoring “games” was not new, and that’s why the first attempts of establishing a virtual presence in Second Life were of a game-y nature: even if they were not strtictly “games” in itself, they were supposed at least to be entertaining, and through entertainment, they thought the media would find it attractive enough to write things about it.

Ironically, with the only virtual world with a huge economy of digital content sales, the existing content designers for SL were scared about what they perceived to be “unfair” competition from the Big Corps, with their unlimited funds to develop cheap content for sale in SL. The irony here is that almost none thought to exploit content creation for sale in SL in 2006/7 (thus showing that the “fears” of the SL content creators were largerly unfounded). To my knowledge, “direct competition” came from American Apparel and Bershka and little else; most virtual presences gave away a very limited selection of freebies, but never seriously “competed” in the content creation business.

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