How are the Virtual Worlds Doing?

I have not written in a couple of weeks, I have spent time updating the look of my website Check it out!

Its been a while since I visited some of the virtual worlds I reviewed earlier on this site. I’m partly writing this inspired by a post about the fate of There Philippines, a Filipino version of There which is declining in popularity. Based on what I read, the game runners of There PH, were content with a subset of There, leaving out what I believe are the most important elements: Paz’s and custom content approval.

Ariane’s first law of Virtual Worlding:

If you want a successful virtual world, you must have two things: 1) Custom player content, 2) customizable homes for players. Leave one or both out, and your virtual world will be a bust.

The most successful virtual world game is Second Life, which was built entirely around both principles. Other successes like There and even the limited in scope IMVU have both, and as a result have thousands of players on at any given time.

I recently took a look at The Lounge to see how things are going there. There were about 105 players last night, which is about 102 more than last time I was there. Similar story in Red Light Center, which has 147 currently logged in, and they have porn! I know they are both new and what not, but the rule still applies. Neither has custom player content, neither has customizable homes for players. (RLC has private rooms for virtual sex, but that does not count.) They will never succeed as virtual worlds, just as novelty add ons.

Currently, there are two new virtual worlds in beta that I know about. Kaneva is in closed beta, and PS3 Home (see previous post) was just announced. Both feature customizable homes, but based on what I have read, neither are adding custom player content. PS3 Home says it will eventually, but launching without it already built in is a mistake. Both will allow user pictures and music to decorate their homes, but custom housing isn’t enough, just ask The Sims Online.

They also need texturing walls, clothing, furniture, and especially avatars, even if it requires an approval system like There. Otherwise they are doomed to draw in crowds initially, but people won’t stay.

A Quick Peek at The Lounge

The latest social online game is The Lounge or PCD Music Lounge. Most everything I said about Red Light Center below could be said about The Lounge as well. (Especially the part where I said “There is nothing here that isn’t doable better in Second Life.”) Its still considered “beta”, it is propped up by advertising, there is as of yet very little in the way of content.

There are some differences. The Lounge feels like an interactive music video, complete with song title, artist, and CD title in the lower left corner at the beginning and end of each song. You of course can click on these titles and be taken to a web site where you can purchase them.

The Lounge is sponsored by A&M records and so that is what you hear, as you wander around the cool looking but very small courtyard. There are plenty of places to sit, especially since the two or three times I visited there were 20 or fewer people on with me.

The avatars are outline rendered, not only does it make them cool looking but it is also less work for graphics cards. You cant customize your wardrobe, but there is a decent selection of stuff to wear. There is also a decent selection of animations to perform via menu. A third of them are dance moves since this is a virtual dance hall after all.