Virtual worlds make their money very differently from social-network sites – mostly from selling virtual objects. Though Disney’s Pixie Hollow and Webkinz and Webkinz, Jr. sell real objects such as “friendship bracelets” and plush toys, the economies of most virtual worlds (and multiplayer online games) rely on objects and artifacts such as clothing, furniture, and other property. Social sites, which to date have focused more on display ads, too, are moving into virtual-object retail (see this about Hi5 selling virtual gifts). A figure cited by The Economist indicates everybody may be moving in this direction, though there’s much to be learned about this business model. The article mentions that users at a popular VW aimed at teens, Gaia Online, “spend more than $1 million per month on virtual items.” Gaia recently hired a full-time economist, The Economist says, “to grapple with problems that are well known in the real world, such as inflation and an unequal distribution of wealth” (maybe child psychologists will need to employed too!). The British news magazine otherwise paints a more measured picture of virtual-world popularity than do other news outlets, but the figure it cites is “regular visitors,” not overall registered users. “In America, nearly 10 million children and teenagers visit virtual worlds regularly,” it refers to eMarketer as finding. Virtual Worlds News earlier cited data from Strategy Analytics projecting an overall global population of 186 million now, growing to 640m by 2015 (users of all ages – I blogged about that here). My most recent post on VW population is here.
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NetFamilyNews – by Anne Collier
- What are we really seeing in the social media fishbowl?
- Spoiler alert: Kid loves teaching Twitter to Dad
- At the IGF: Youth participation = greater youth e-safety
- Enabling peer protection: Knowledge is empowerment
- Millennials’ changing social media use: Survey
- Heard of Twitch? Amazon has!
- Dealing with the nasties online
- Leadership in bullying prevention and so much more
Analysis & News – by Larry Magid
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- UN bringing child rights into the digital age
- IGF attendees complain about censorship in Turkey while some advocate it for youth
- Internet Governance Forum topics include human rights, network neutrality and child protection
- Protecting children online needs to allow for their right to free speech
- It’s time for schools to upgrade both technology and pedagogy
- Why Google (and Facebook) should admit kids under 13
- As Ferguson struggles, Georgia teens create app to rate police departments