by: Rick van der Wal via Business and Games Blog

This year we’ve seen many brands come and go in Virtual Worlds. Some have invested in their own worlds, other have invested in a presence within social virtual worlds. Today I want to list some of the ways users and corporations have been playing with the Metaverse, creating the following overview of Business models they used both successfully and unsuccessfully.

Inworld Economy

The creation and selling of virtual products and services to Avatars for real money. In-world brands have been hugely successful, few earning 5 to 6 figure incomes from these virtual items. These items and services only exist in the Metaverse. Examples of these businesses are Anshe Chungs ‘Dreamland‘ - Virtual Real Estate, Strokerz Toys - Sex toys and body parts, Solange - Designing virtual, digital fashion.


 Business Integration

E-mail, Skype and Instant Messengers have all been integrated into our everyday uses at work. Virtual Worlds have its own set of advantages when dealing with 1 to 1 or 1 to many communications. Some corporations are on the front lines of exploring what virtual worlds can do for them. Using the advantages of communication to streamline management, internal education, business to client communication or any other application to support the business processes of any organization. Examples are IBM having virtual meetings in Second Life and Developing their own ‘Metaverse‘, and Cisco using Second Life for internal communication.

 Inworld EconomyBrand Presence/Avartising

Create your off-line brand in Second Life, market real life products to virtual people, avatars. This has been the model that has gotten the most media attention and went trough a lot of ‘trial and error’ already. The failed experiments with just Brand Presence paved the way for Metaverse Naysayers to say Virtual Worlds (Second Life) is not a viable business platform. Examples are plenty, though some of the more interesting approaches are lingerie brand Carnal and the T.V. program ‘The L-Word’.


Content Creation

Corporations usually don’t have the know-how on how to create a 3d presence. Other companies have specialized in 3d communications and building content for these corporations. They advise and build the Virtual structures where other enterprises can exercise their Brand Presence. An example is Millions of Us, having created islands for Pontiac, HBO and Intel.



 Services for Virtual Entrepreneurs

The buzz inside Virtual Worlds does not just create opportunities for people building content for these worlds. New applications and services have been made to facilitate all these online entrepreneurs. onRez and SLeXchange bring virtual products outside of Second Life, theLoop by the Electric Sheep company lists popular places in a website and various mash ups mix the Second Life client with web 2.0 applications such as Twitter and Wordpress. 


Create your own Virtual Environment

The last option I want to list today is the various ‘brand worlds’ that have been created by various companies. Users can play and interact in a branded world to create brand affection in their specific niches (mostly children at this point). They engage with the brand in a different way, creating ‘preferred advertising’ - advertising they choose to watch. Examples are Barbie World and Coca Cola’s ‘Coke Studios‘.

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