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Breathing New Life into Virtual Worlds


And you thought Virtual Worlds were so passé…a new study suggests that virtual worlds may be getting a second life.

In 2007-2008, many brands and companies flocked to Second Life to build a virtual presence, which spiked, peaked, and created somewhat of a backlash and ultimately a bit of a retreat in the process. By mid-2009, virtual worlds were realizing a comeback of sorts. In July 2009, virtual worlds consultancy reported that membership of virtual worlds grew by 39% in the second quarter of 2009 to an estimated 579 million. World of Warcraft, Entropia Universe, Habbo Hotel, Club Penguin and Second Life are respectively posting profits powered by those who were intent on getting a “second” life.

According to the study, it is the youth demographic that drove the bulk of the 39% growth. Kzero reported that, which targets 5 to 10-year-olds, boasts over 76 million registered users. As the ages increase, so do the numbers of users. For example in the range of 10 to 15-year-olds, Habbo’s virtual world population rivaled some real world countries with 135 million

users. Other networks also accommodate massive citizenry. 54 million inhabit Neopets, 34 million occupy Star Dolls, and 28 million reside in Club Penguin.

Older users seem to take more interest in real life social networks such as Facebook, MySpace and Twitter. Among 15 to 25-year-olds usage appears to diminish – apart from Poptropica, which maintains and active community of 35 million.

However, as existing, younger demographics of virtual worlds mature, their conditioning and expectations for sophisticated and immersive interaction won’t dwindle. Social Networks that cater to older demographics may soon need to integrate virtual features and experiences in order to attract new users over time.

Kzero breaks out the world of virtual words using a visual that resembles a radar screen. In its cartography of the virtual landscape, the company organizes the disparate varieties of communities in 12 categories:

– Soclializing/Chat

– Casual Gaming

– Misc

– Mirror Worlds

– Roleplay/Fantasy/Quests

– Toys/Real World Games

– Music

– Fashion/Lifestyle

– Education/Development

– Sports

– TV/Film/Books

– Content Creation

Virtual Worlds by Sector (Click for Larger Image):

Virtual Worlds Organized by Registered Accounts:

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62 COMMENTS ON THIS POST To “Breathing New Life into Virtual Worlds”

  1. Courtenay Dulak says:

    It’s crazy to imagine a five year old on a virtual network–shouldn’t they be outside in the sand box?  With that in mind, those who think social media is a passing craze need to keep in mind we have a new generation starting young on these networks who are likely to consider them a way of life.

  2. Alex Berger says:

    Great post and fantastic visualizations of what’s going on.  It’s time people realize that today’s young children are learning to interact with computers, technology and the web at the same time they’re developing base motor and conversational skills. That’s a fundamental change unlike anything we’ve seen in the last 50 years. The storm is coming and the Millennials?  They’re just a mild introduction to the true shifts and changes that will sweep across our society and the educational system in the coming years.

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