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8 Jul

The Brand New Worlds

Here’s a presentation giving an overview of how real world brands are creating their own virtual worlds and MMOs.

For a pretty-much complete list of all brands inside virtual worlds, including third-party activity, click here.

Brands in Worlds

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Q2 Radar: Brands and Learning dominate new entrants into virtual worlds sector

We’ve updated our Radar Charts for Q2 2010. These charts show both existing virtual worlds and platforms in development (closed beta). This time we’ve included MMOs into the Radar charts and we’ll be building out this list over time.

As a whole, the virtual worlds and MMO marketplace is changing quite dramatically. Whereas 12 months ago a concept we called ‘Chasing the Penguin’ was the main thrust of activity. This related to completely new companies setting up shop funded on the basis and excitement caused by the Disney acquisition of Club Penguin. This led to a massive influx (60+ new worlds) entering the marketplace going after the lucrative kids and tween sectors.

Of course, there’s only so much time kids have available and only so many times these kids can convince their parents to part with their hard-earned cash – we’re seeing casualties now.

As our last post explained, the virtual world and MMO marketplace is now shifting to being brand dominated as companies with existing customers, channels and operations see the value in sliding the brands and offerings into immersive environments.

The uplift in new platforms being developed as a result of these brands can be seen in the Radar segment shown below.

The other key segment seeing increased activity from new entrants is Education and Learning with a wide range of companies across many different educational areas developing their offerings. Continue reading →

1 Jul

(In and) Out of their World – How Brands are Moving Across Platforms

We’ve highlighted many times the opportunities presented to brands within the virtual world and MMO category, primarily from engagement and monetisation perspectives. Linked to this is another trend we identified of leveraging different platforms to synergise brands. This is a post about how these trends are rapidly transforming and driving the sector.

Real world brands having virtual worlds is not a new concept. Barbie Girls and Webkinz were early pioneers of this strategy, amassing multi-million user bases in short periods – and importantly, in most cases much faster than ‘pureplay’ virtual worlds which at present make up the bulk of the sector.

We’ve just updated our Radar charts showing existing and new worlds and MMOs by genre. Related to this, we thought you’d be interested in seeing how brands are moving across different platforms. This is shown in the diagram below (which we’ll be updating on an ongoing basis).

We’ve placed five different channels (TV, Movies, Toys/Games, Consoles and Books) around the virtual world platform. From here we’ve shown how a brand has moved from one of these channels into virtual worlds. For example, BuildaBear started life as a toy retail operation and then , BuildaBearVille. Kung Fu Panda similarly created a MMO off the back of the movie – so on and so forth. Continue reading →

16 Jun

The Star Team social gaming app goes live

Cheesy alternative headline: Blasts Off for Star Team!

Our social gaming and virtual world strategy for Star Team blasts off today. Star Team is an action-adventure story about a group of students attending an intergalactic space academy who face innumerable challenges when inadvertently rocketed into the farthest regions of space.

We’re in the process of creating the virtual world/MMO strategy and business plan for Star Team incorporating the user journey and experience, virtual goods tie-in and game mechanics.

Development of the virtual world has been awarded to Dubit and Brainwave Studios.

The first phase of our plan relates to social gaming, with the Star Team Academy games launching today on (here’s the ), with an aggressive roll-out onto a range of third-party gaming sites.

We’ve developed a designed to sniff out potential recruits for the Academy.

Good luck!

The KZero Facebook page is

Building the (virtual) Yellow Brick Road

KZero client Summertime Entertainment is enjoying our full range of services in support of their upcoming animated movie Dorothy of Oz. We were appointed earlier this year to provide strategic services relating to the development of the virtual world, virtual goods and social gaming elements.

With the movie coming out early 2012, our focus has been on developing the virtual platforms to build pre-launch awareness of the movie as well as provide online destinations for fans (and monetisation of course). All online efforts are designed to bridge the Wonderful Wizard of Oz franchise to a new generation.

We’ve created the end-to-end business plan and model for the virtual world, leveraging both the Dorothy brand and the movie. This effort includes the in-world feature sets and user journey as well as game/questing mechanics, socialisation mechanics and the supporting virtual goods strategies. Now we’re working alongside Dubit to build-out the world and bring it to market Q1 of next year.

Here’s some concept artwork for the movie. Continue reading →

Q4 2009 Radar chart: Music, Fashion and Education/Development

Throughout 2009 and certainly for the majority of 2008, almost all the focus in the KT&T virtual worlds space was in casual gaming and socialising.

Now, we’re seeing a different trend, with worlds catering towards education and development being the hotspot in terms of upcoming worlds.

The chart below shows Education/Development, Fashion/Lifestyle and Music.

You can order the full report analysing growth in the virtual worlds sector here. Our report, Virtual Worlds 2010+ details the major drivers for growth in these categories. Continue reading →

Google StreetView and advertising in virtual worlds: Spark 100 Podcast

Screen shot 2010-01-23 at 06.53.08Here’s a Spark 100 podcast from CBC Radio in Toronto.

I’m discussing (towards the end) the recent Google StreetView patent relating to ad overlays and the implications of real/virtual world advertising.

2010+ VW growth areas Part One: Branded Worlds

Our latest report, Virtual Worlds 2010+ explains the key growth areas emerging in the sector over the next three years. This is a series of posts taking each area in turn and breaking out the analysis.

We think one of the major contributors to growth in the KT&T category will be branded worlds – virtual worlds created by real world companies in the toys, games and media spaces.

We’ve already seen some indication of the power of branded worlds, namely with Barbie Girls, Webkinz and Buildabearville (shown right in a segment from the Radar).

The MTV suite of worlds are also worthy of note, albeit slightly less successful (in terms of comparative registered accounts), perhaps due to targeting a slightly older age group.

All three of these branded worlds amassed multi-million registered account user bases in a relatively short period of time – something pure-play virtual woods typically struggle with.

Here are the reasons why branded worlds are set to be major growth areas in 2010+:

1. Brand awareness

The importance of The Brand is often over-looked by new VW companies. Sure, having a technically sound platform and product is one thing and of course, viral marketing is great (as a theory) but potential users need to know about the world. Branded worlds have a huge advantage over pure-plays because they have incumbent levels of real-world brand awareness – they have customers that already have a relationship with the brand.

We’ve recently completed a consulting project for a global games publisher on one of their tween brands, providing guidance and strategy on the in-world user experience/journey, financial model, marketing/acquisition and monetisation strategies. What blew us away right at the start was the incredibly high level of brand awareness in several key territories – an ideal start for a virtual world.

Furthermore, creating the virtual world was almost a ‘no-brainer’ strategy as it’s simply an evolution and extension of their existing brand.

Continue reading →

The Federal Consortium for Virtual Worlds

Wow, that sounds official. And you know what, it actually is! The Federal Consortium for Virtual Worlds is an American initiative from the Information Resource Management (IRM) College of the National Defense University. There role is to ‘ prepare leaders to direct the information component of national power by leveraging information and information technology for strategic advantage’.


Furthermore, it’s a great example of virtual worlds being used in a non-consumer fashion (albeit a little Second Life centric). The media tends to focus pretty much exclusively on KT&T VWs when covering the sector and what a lot of people don’t realise is just how much hard work is going on in B2B and governmental sectors. Roll the (slickly produced) video.


via Mal Burns



KZero services:


Business Planning


Product Development

Virtual worlds and goods Twitter lists

We’ve created some Twitter lists to keep you updated on latest developments in the virtual worlds and good markets. As follows:


: This list includes official virtual world Twitter streams (Twinity, SmallWorlds, Habbo etc) as well as supply chain companies (moderation, payments etc):


: Individuals and companies commenting on the virtual worlds market:




KZero services:


Business Planning


Product Development

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