Virtual goods remain a promising alternative to advertising, and even to subscription revenue for many games and social networks. As mobile games continue to play an important role in gaming revenue, I would expect to see the sales of virtual goods continue to skew toward mobile devices as users seek instant gratification and bite-sized chunks of high-quality gameplay.
More than five years after its launch, World of Warcraft is still as popular as ever. These days it boasts more than 11.5 million users, many of whom are waiting eagerly for the game's third full expansion, Cataclysm, which is expected later this year.
It's not clear yet if the new version will match the impressive sales of its predecessor, Wrath of the Lich King, which sold 4 million copies in one month, but there's sure to be a rush of excitement when it does launch.
One thing that's clear, though, is that WoW fans … Read more
"For the Win," the latest young-adult novel by science-fiction author, journalist, and copyright activist Cory Doctorow, hit the shelves Tuesday. The book is about the drama surrounding the unionization of virtual world "gold farmers," and is based on his hit short story, "Anda's Game."
Doctorow, who has held policy positions at both the Electronic Frontier Foundation and Creative Commons, is also an editor of the influential technology culture blog Boing Boing. Add his spot on the Wired magazine masthead and there are probably few, if any, people with more geek culture cred.
From his home in England, the Canadian-born Doctorow, a Hugo Award nominee, is one of the most prolific writers going, constantly turning out blog posts, magazine articles, novels, and everything in between. And he travels more in a year than most people will in a lifetime.
His Boing Boing posts can cover issues from the fact that there are now at least 13 open-source hardware companies making $1 million or more annually, to anything related to Net neutrality, to the current battle over the U.S. Federal Communications Committee's decision to give Hollywood permission to activate the so-called "Selective Output Control" technologies in consumers' set-top boxes.
Doctorow recently sat down for a "45 Minutes on IM" interview and discussed a range of topics such as a new-style approach to print-on-demand to gold farming, NAFTA, and quite a bit more.
Q: Welcome to the third installment of "45 Minutes on IM." I wanted to start by saying I love how your official bio has a one-sentence version, a one-paragraph version, and a much longer one. How did you decide to break it out like that? Doctorow: It was based on the requests I got from press and such--my publicist, magazines, Web sites, etc.--they'd all request one of the three. I found myself trimming the long bio to fit the other two lengths over and over again, so I just made a template that included all three. I try to make a template out of any text I type more than once. Though sometimes it takes me three or four reps before I go, 'Duh, make a template stupid!' I have a grand plan to put together a wiki-editable FAQ of all the questions I get asked in e-mail someday.
In the long version of your bio, you talk about the "audacious experiment in print-on-demand publishing" for your next book. What does that mean?… Read more
A new study by virtual goods provider Viximo suggests that by 2011, sales of virtual goods will amount to 20 percent of U.S. game software revenues.
According to the report (registration required), this forecast is predicated on the expectation that virtual goods will grow faster than the overall gaming software industry. In 2009, U.S. retail sales of console, portable, and PC game software generated revenues of $10.5 billion, an 11 percent decline over the $11.7 billion generated in 2008. In the meantime, virtual goods revenues are expected to hit roughly $1.6 billion in 2010 and … Read more
LONDON--Micazook, a start-up trying to bring some real-world flavor to virtual worlds on the Net, plans to publicly launch an online realm it calls Project X for now.
"A beta will be out in the next few weeks," Michael Fotoohi, managing director and one of the prime programmers behind the project, said at the Image Sensors Europe conference here. By then, he said, Project X should have a real name instead of its present placeholder.
Project X attempts to overlay the free-wheeling style of Second Life over a model of the real world. The company has obtained high-resolution … Read more
Alternative payment methods enable developers to monetize significantly larger portions of their user base, according to a study released Wednesday.
Fifty-three percent of social gamers surveyed for the study, overseen by ComScore and Offerpal Media, said they are enthusiastic about alternative, or indirect, payment methods as a way to earn virtual currency for free, rather than having to pay for it directly.
These alternative forms of payment take many forms, including filling out a survey, watching a video, shopping at online retailers, or signing up for a subscription in order to get points for the games they play on leading … Read more
The pioneering virtual world There.com will shut down on March 9, a victim of the recession and the pinch on brand spending that had kept it going long past earlier troubles. The news was announced by CEO Mike Wilson on Tuesday.
The service, which launched in the fall of 2003, was a fully 3D social environment with a sophisticated economy, wonderful vehicles like hoverboard and hoverboats and, eventually, a wide variety of community-created content.
In its early days, There got the lion's share of the 3D virtual world attention, far outstripping even Second Life, which launched around the … Read more
Almost every week for the last few years, it seems, I've gotten a press release or a pitch touting some company's great new Facebook games network or kids' virtual world.
And why not? Companies like Zynga and Playfish are making money hand over fist with their collections of massively popular social games, and 2D Flash games aimed at children like Club Penguin, Webkinz, Habbo Hotel, and others have garnered vast amounts of virtual world investment dollars in recent years.
But to someone who cut his virtual world teeth on more immersive, 3D environments like There and Second Life, these never-ending announcements of new companies trying to jump on the social gaming bandwagon have left me with one nagging question: Where is the innovation?
To find the answer, one has only to do what investigative journalists were always trained to do: follow the money. But while Facebook games like FarmVille and Who Has the Biggest Brain, and social worlds for kids or teens like Gaia Online make financial sense, they aren't all that satisfying intellectually.
After all, while Second Life had no end of technical problems and was about as inviting to mainstream audiences as obscure European philosophy, it had a complex economy, a deep social structure, sophisticated politics and always seemed, to me, at least, as the jumping off point for truly groundbreaking technology.… Read more
World of Warcraft publisher Blizzard Entertainment on Wednesday announced that it has begun closed beta testing for its real-time strategy game, StarCraft II: Wings of Liberty.
StarCraft II has been a long time coming. It is the sequel to the 1998 hit, StarCraft. The new game will feature an entirely new 3D graphics engine, and like its predecessor, will focus on the battle between the protoss, terrans, and zerg. Blizzard said StarCraft II should launch sometime in the first half of 2010.
Already, the company said in a release, there are thousands of people in the beta test. One of … Read more
Back from a stint in outer space--literally--famed video game designer Richard Garriott has returned to his roots with a new social gaming start-up, Portalarium.
Known as "Lord British" and considered one of the industry's legends for his pioneering work on Ultima and Ultima Online, as well as his leading roles on Lineage, City of Heroes, and Tabula Rasa, Garriott most recently grabbed headlines by paying eight figures for a trip aboard a Russian rocket to the International Space Station.
Now, Garriott has come back home, literally and figuratively. On Wednesday, he formally announced his next venture, a … Read more