Blog Header

Audio from the Virtual Worlds Session@PICNIC Amsterdam


Thanks to my collegue Frank, here after all the audio of the Virtual Worlds Session

Some notes after the Virtual Worlds Session@PICNIC Amsterdam


Last week I was part of a panel discussion about virtual worlds at PICNIC in Amsterdam. PICNIC is one of the biggest cross media events/seminars in Europe with a very impressing lineup (ranging from Mr Sir Richard Branson to yoga guru and activist Woody Harrelson).

We recorded the audio for an nice podcast but it seems the output from the audio mixer was far too low. I will try to fix the audio, but let me just share my notes:

Jack Myers, author of the book “Virtual Worlds: Rewiring Your Emotional Future” talking about how Virtual Worlds are becoming an embedded part of our culture. Jack discussed how marketeers unfortunately try to bring their traditional marketing models into a changing media landscape. He stated that those marketeers need to rethink what they are doing and come up with new models for marketing, with a much more customer approach. Marketeers, CEO’s and other decision makers are in that sense confused and overwhelmed by the new media opportunities but are not changing their scope. This has leaded to marketing and branding initiatives in virtual worlds that focussed on experimenting and learning but not actually implementing and making true emotional connections with a community. Jack pointed out the importance of understanding virtual worlds and stressed that particularly virtual worlds for tweens offer huge opportunities. This age group is growing up with virtual worlds, online and serious games and online communities, which demands a radical reorientation for marketeers.

You can download Jack’s presentation here

David Burden of Daden discussed what happens when video games meet Web 2.0 and virtual worlds meet geospatial maps of the planet? David discussed the Metaverse Roadmap and stressed that the internet is mainly about Information where virtual worlds are much more about Experience. The ROI should therefore be more defined along the lines of creating experience and engaging your audience. David also showed some interesting forcast stating we will be moving from a media/social space to a transaction space, a entertainment space and ultimately into and agent space and a dream space.

Download Davids presentation here

After these two presentations there was a panel discussion (more…)

Platform virtual worlds launched in the Netherlands


 A few days ago a new initiative was launched in the Netherlands called Platform Virtuele Werelden (Platform Virtual Worlds). Its an initiative of EPN, a Dutch research institute and has the goal to gain and spread knowledge about virtual worlds and its possibilities to companies, governments, media and a wide audience in general. Also they strive to define and understand the meaning of virtual worlds and 3d spaces to society.

The platform is formed by a consortion of companies and universities, including Technical University Delft, University of Amsterdam, University of Twente, Erasmus University Rotterdam, ING Bank, ABN AMRO Bank, Philips and the City of Zoetermeer.

A very good initiative showing that virtual worlds are taken seriously and that those major institutes and companies were not blinded by the post-hype depression we seemed to be in the past few months.  ;)

Metaverse 1.0: Setting the standards


Last week I spoke with Jean Gelissen, Senior Director Strategic Partnerships at Philips Research about the Metaverse 1.0 project. I have combined the notes of this meeting with the information I took from the project presentation.

Metaverse 1.0 is a project developed within the framework of ITEA, a strategic pan-European programme for advanced pre-competitive R&D in software for Software-intensive Systems and Services. Metaverse 1.0 has the purpose to set global standards among real and virtual worlds and bridging the gaps within virtual worlds and between virtual and real worlds.

Metaverse 1.0 is an initiative of Yesha Sivan, an Israelean entrepreneur and professor at the Tel Aviv University. Metaverse 1.0 is pushed by the Metaverse 1.0 consortium, which includes over 40 participants of large and small/medium enterprises as well as several research institutes and universities from 8 participating countries. Among the participants are Philips Research, Philips Design, Forthnet, Alcatel-Lucent, Telefonica I&D, Siemens IT, Barco, Geosim Systems Ltd., Technical University Eindhoven, Utrecht University, Technical University of Twente, Fraunhofer Rostock, Nazuka and Bertelsmann. IBM will also be involved in the next phases.

The Metaverse1.0 project will provide a standardized global framework enabling the interoperability between Virtual worlds (as for example Second Life, World of Warcraft, IMVU, Google Earth and many others) and the Real world (sensors, actuators, vision and rendering, social and welfare systems, banking, insurance, travel, real estate and many others). Currently the consortium is also talking to ISO, the International Organization of Standardisation. (more…)

Sony Home @ E-Day Rotterdam (incl video of the beta version)


In the past months we have already been able to get some insight in Sony’s coming virtual world Home. It seems they will launch Home somewhere around 14 October. On 13 September, Folkert Langeveld, marketing Manager Playstation Benelux, gave a presentation about Home at E-Day in Rotterdam (where we are based btw!) and gave us some more details.

Home will be completely in HD, free of use for PS3 users and mainly focused on interaction, gaming and competition. Home will offer a game room where residents can play minigames and a variety of public spaces like a cinema where film and trailers s in HD will be screened. Also, residents will have their own private apartments they can decorate themselves with a variety of (preset) objects. Residents can launch and download PS games from within Home and play against eachother. In Home, residents wiill have a PSP that they can use to control their environment, change your looks and upload pictures from your harddrive to hang them on the wall of your virtual apartment.

Langeveld pointed out that Home will be a controlled environment. As for now, there is not so much users can create themselves, even though he pointed out that “the creation of games is more and more influenced by the users and users will have more and more influence on the games”.

Sony is planning connect offline sales to the online world. Think of buying clothing in a fysical shop that has a barcode attached, with which it can be brought into the virtual world. Sony will allow external brands to advertise within Home and to offer custom and sponsored events. Residents can buy products through the PS Store and Sony is considering to offer a consumer-to-consumer marketplace in Home.

With millions of sales of the previous game consoles Sony ofcourse has a potential great user base for Home. By bringing together games, film and music in a social environment, this could just very well boost the sales of the console but moreover of the games they’re going to offer for download. The graphics and movements look amazing, so this will be tough competition for Second Life and the likes. The fact that it will be a very much controlled environment with (as far as I can see) hardly any possibilities for resentents to create their own content, I am sure that the possibilities for self expression, creativity and community building in Second Life for example will stay very appealing to a lot of users.

Here a video of the presentation where Langeveld showed the beta version of Home live (its a bit dark unfortunately)

Sony Home@E-Day Rotterdam

(video by

Heres another video, same presentation, different camera angle :)

Warner Bros. Entertainment will launch their own Virtual World: T-Works


 After Mattel, Daimler-Chrystler, Viacom, Disney and many others, Warner Brothers will also launch their own virtual world called T-Works. T-Works will bring together all of the key characters from the Studios animations in an immersive online environment. Think Looney Tunes, Hanna-Barbera and DC Comics.

According to the press release, T-Works will offer fans tools for self-expression and personalization in order to “brand” their digital lives anywhere on the Web. They can “incorporate a custom avatar into their lives, whether it’s on T-Works or utilized in the participant’s digital world (MySpace, Facebook, etc.).”

Some other features T-Works will offer:

  • Immersive virtual worlds where users interact with each other and assume a cartoon identity based on existing characters
  • Video channel featuring hundreds of hours of animations and series
  • A personalization channel to serve all aspects of fans digital lives from customizing social networking profiles, portable widgets, desktop applications and more
  • A games channel with over 125 games featuring never-before-seen character match-ups
  • Video Mash-Up Maker where users can create and share their own cartoon remixes
  • A reward system that gives points for all activity that the user does both within the virtual worlds and throughout the site

Now that is ofcourse a major player to enter the Virtual Worlds market, Warner Bros obviously has some prety good cards in their hands with their rich base of wellknown characters and cartoons. Some tough competition for Disney here. (more…)

After Second Life it REALLY gets interesting….


In the Dutch Financial Times I bumped into an interesting article by Jeroen van Bree of Nyenrode Business Universiteit. Here a quick&dirty translation.

Virtual worlds like Second Life are not particularly that interesting for selling products or virtual conferences. That is innovation with an eye on the past. Companies should study which new ways of working and collaborating arise in virtual worlds in order to stay ahead of competition.

De hype around Second Life has come to an abrupt end (especially in the Netherlands, DB). One year ago hardly anybody had hear about it, beginning of this year everybody felt it was a revolution and now everybody feels it’s a flop. Now we are passed the hype we can finally take the time to focus on the really interesting aspects of virtual worlds. Because that interesting things are happening goes without a doubt. But those seem to say invisible for most companies trying to gain from presence in Second Life, simply because they use virtual worlds without a vision and like an instrument. (more…)

7 things you should know about Kaneva


Metaversed has a nice overview of some important elements of Kaneva, one of the many virtual worlds out there. Here’s the list: (more…)

Another toybased world for Kids:


 Yesteray I already wrote about the flood of new online worlds, this morning i read the pressrelease of MGA Entertainment, maker of Bratz and, announcing its second toy-based virtual world: Rescue Pets: Its based on the same model that Webkinz uses: buy a real toy and receive a code that gives you credits or other benefits in the virtual world. With Rescue Pets, users buy plush toys in the store and receive a code written on the dogs bone. Each pet has its own, completely private room, and there is  public space in the town square’s arcade where you can earn credits to buy more items for your pet and room. Users are responsible for keeping their pet healthy. Like other kids worlds, users communicate with pre-set messages, in open text messaging with approved friends, or completely free communication.

So kids, more pets to play with! (more…)

Sony Home to Feature User-Generated Content and Sales



Virtual World News pointed me at some interesting news about Sony Home. At the Edinburgh Interactive Festival, the director of the Sony Home group announced that “In the longer term, users will be able to share other content that they have created: photos and videos themselves and user-generated content tools such as their own t-shirt designs. We’ll also be giving out tools to allow scripting, java minigames and so on.” Now recently boh the new (but unreleased) platform Twinity and Doppelganger announced that their platforms would be much more controlled than lets say Second Life. Users can publish own content in their private environments and create items and objects, but certainly public environments will be controlled. (more…)

The end is near…or?


We can all pack our bags, according to a variety of (traditional) media. Second Life is dead. End of story. Punkt schluss aus. The tide of the journalistic hype about Second Life has, surprisingly, turned. Wired (once a Second Life adept) published an article about wasted marketing million, Time last week writes about Second Lifes Real World problems and Forbes had a nice piece about vandalism and the effect for realworld brands. The articles talk about companies who have departed the virtual world, usually because of disappointment with objectives not realized, ROI not met, etc. Interesting to see that all those journalist who helped create the hype are now shooting their own baby.


Metaverse redefined?


Mike Sellers of Terra Nova has a compelling article about the analogy between what Neil Stephenson decribed as the ‘Metaverse’ in his novel Snow Crash and virtual worlds ‘as we know them today’. It is interesting to see how many people still believe that the Metaverse as envisioned by Stephenson will actually happen in the future, where we will all walk around in a complete immersive space with our brains connected to our avatars and the web has become a complete 3D space.

I dont believe this will happen, and I dont think we are heading for an immersive 3D web. Instead, I do feel that the vision as described in the Metaverse Roadmap is much closer to reality (and not the virtual reality, the real one), where the metaversie is described as the convergence of virtually-enhanced physical reality and physically persistent virtual space. It is a fusion of both, while allowing users to experience it as either.

In other words, it will be a collection of virtual worlds, the web, 3D web tools and objects that will be embedded everywhere in our environment. Distributed worlds and spaces, both 3D and 2D, intellegently meshed up and (inter)connected. Certain activities we now typically associate with the 2D web will become more 3D and immersive, others wont. To quote the Metaverse Roadmap: In sum, for the best view of the changes ahead, we suggest thinking of the Metaverse not as virtual space but as the junction or nexus of our physical and virtual worlds.

Lets make sure that, now the Second Life hype is hopefully over its highest point, traditional media are not fed with a concept of ‘the 3D web’. Lets not give them new ammunition to create a new hype.

Virtual Worlds for Children


kids vwHere a short list of virtual worlds for children. There are obviously a lot more, we are working on a nice whitepaper about this explosively growing market…

  1. Animal Crossing
  2. Barbiegirls
  3. Be-Bratz
  4. Club Penguin
  5. GoPets
  6. JumpStart World
  7. Nicktropolis by Nickelodeon
  8. The big rip
  9. WebbliWorld (by the makers of Wallace&Gromit)
  10. Webkinz
  11. Whyville
  12. Zwinky

E-mail It