It is very tempting to predict what I think will happen in the upcoming year of Virtual Worlds in general. Everyone does it, some people say the same thing other people have conflicting opinions. The fact of the matter is that no one person really knows, everyone, regardless of how educated or how respect they are in the industry, are making their best educated guesses. Rather than repeat the entire looking into the magic ball, as I’ve done last year, I rather mix it up and rather than just predict but also wish. These are the things I hope will happen in 2008, and why I think they should:
- I hope Second Life becomes more stable than it does now. Last year I wished virtual worlds as a whole become more stable and for the most part they have (although there are exceptions). Second Life is still a platform that, while having grown, needs an improvement in its services on the server side. While I think that is coming, with the introduction of a new Havok engine, I hope that the backbone and lines of communication between LL and its users continue to improve.
- I really hope that all virtual worlds promise to support an open avatar standard. It would be nice to see what’s different and unique about Kaneva, There.com and Sony Home, but it will also be frustrating to have to deal with three different logins per each virtual world. I would LOVE for my WoW account to have the same login credentials as my Second Life account.
- I really hope Sony Home comes to PC. Personally, I think Sony Home will fail. It’s another pre-generated content virtual world where the user has but so much creativity. Sony is attempting to hop on the virtual world bandwagon, but with the PS3 being kicked in the ass, I think it will fail. In order for something like Sony Home to survive, it needs to participate in the PC community.
- I hope consoles and PC begin to have a lot more in common, virtually. Second Life on the Wii? A Mii Second Life? The combinations are endless, but would be cool. I really hope that the two platforms form a bond over the PC (something that Xbox Live has promised, but I’m not quite sure it is there yet).
- I REALLY hope for growth of resident based entertainment in Second Life. To be honest, the artist and entertainment scene in Second Life is pretty stagnant. One major complaint that I hear about artists in SL is that it is very repetitive, another complaint I hear about DJ’s in Second Life is their lack of professionalism. The entertainment aspect in Second Life needs to grow and become a lot more diverse that it currently is.
- I hope for a MMOG that doesn’t put me to sleep. Of late I can’t play WoW. It literally puts me to sleep. Questing, looking for this, looking for that, while may be great and dandy is annoying and tiring. I want to be able to hop into an MMOG, do a quest or two, and then go back to my busy life but not have to spend three hours to do so. If I want a challenge the option should be there, but there should also be an option to advance without needed to spend my life dedicated to one game. Sorry!
- I hope that major corporations have learned the lesson of 2007, sponsorship is KEY! Not everyone needs their own sim, not everyone needs their own plot of land. Getting involved, making connections with those already inside of these worlds is a great and even more powerful way to branch your band without actually having to step foot inside of it. Less building your own more backing those whom are already there.
- I hope governments are smart and do not tax Second Life sales until they are converted into real money. In order to begin taxing sales of Second Life goods, you will need to recognize Second Life (or Linden Lab) as some sort of government, and things just get messy from that point on.
If I were to predict or to assume what will happen in 2008 with virtual worlds, it will be this, this is the wait and see year. I don’t think interest from major corporations will simmer but I do think that there will be a lot more R&D this year for future projects. I feel like this is ’97 all over again with the growth of the Internet, we all know who some of the major players are in the virtual world market but it has not hit that sweet spot where the general public understands what to do with it.