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24 Sep

Virtual worlds successfully using Facebook to grow user bases

You might be interested to learn that virtual world IMVU has almost 1.4m fans of their .

Why do they use Facebook? Lot’s of reasons…

  • It’s a marcomms channel: IMVU communicates the latest news, competitions and user updates
  • Their users also use Facebook: So it makes sense to go where their users are when they’re not in IMVU
  • Rewards: IMVU offers ‘secret sales’ to their followers on Facebook
  • It boosts viral activity: Push notifications from users extend the viral reach

The second point above is the no-brainer of course. But, you might be even more interested to learn that virtual worlds with users below the minimum age requirement (13) for Facebook for similar purposes (and more, explained later). Let’s not kid ourselves – Facebook is chocka-block with under age users. And it’s also full of users at the higher age range end of these kids/tween worlds.

As shown in the chart below (worlds ranked by average user age), whilst these KT&T worlds are not quite at IMVU levels in terms of followers, they’re not doing badly.

Some of these worlds integrate elements of their virtual world experience into Facebook, therefore broadening their reach. Others (most actually) use it is a marcomms channel to speak to their users and the parents of these users (Jumpstart is a great example of this). Others use the Facebook Connect feature to automate the registration process – a great idea.

Continue reading →

7 Aug

Animal Jam continues the trend in Branded Virtual Worlds

Demonstrating the continuing trend for existing brands to create their own virtual worlds (Branded Virtual World), this week we’ve seen the launch of Animal Jam.

This property, from National Geographic also highlights another key trend in the sector, channel convergence.

NatGeo worked with Smart Bomb Interactive on development and Jadi Communications for the marketing strategy and execution.

We were tasked by Jadi to review the marketing strategy/messaging and provide a competitive analysis of the landscape in order to ensure correct positioning.

This is a kids and tween play with the benefit of rich NatGeo content.

With the launch of National Geographic Animal Jam, National Geographic for the first time is offering content from its extensive multimedia resources as an integrated component of a virtual world for young adventurers and their families. Players can access video features, photos and facts about animals, plants and insects in a game world that encourages them to move from the virtual to the natural world by exploring nature right in their own neighborhood or backyard. Continue reading →

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 →

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 →

13 Jul

Virtual World Accounts Q2 2009: 15 to 25

Strategic Marketing

Not such a busy sector currently but watch this one for major growth in 2010.

See all the age ranges and virtual worlds here.

9 Apr

A record month for KZero

Strategic Marketing

April is shaping up to be a record sales month for us, already beating our previous best months for new client wins (and we’re not even half way through the month yet) We don’t just produce pretty-looking graphs you know….

Our published client list only tells half the KZero story to date as we can’t list out the majority of the projects we work on. Why? Because a major revenue and client stream for us is providing business planning and strategic services to companies in stealth mode developing virtual worlds and goods propositions.

Here’s an overview of our new clients in April (so far):

Continue reading →

Market sizing and addressable markets (Europe)

I’ll be writing a post later this week about the importance of target market analysis and criteria for companies developing new virtual worlds. This post (and two subsequent ones) will serve as data-points and reference.

As the number of virtual worlds increases and new worlds are launched outside of North American (particularly from Europe and Asia), it becomes increasingly important to understand not just the overall market size but also the addressable market. In other words, identifying and measuring the population of a country and those households with internet access.

So, this post is simply a set of graphs breaking out KT&T segments by age, country and market size. First up, children between the ages of five and nine across Europe. The first graph, show left contains the overall country populations, split by gender.

Turkey leads the way here with 3.6m boys and 3.4m girls, followed by Russia with 3.4m and 3.2m respectively.

Continue reading →

DM News covers L’Oreal Paris campaign

It’s been over for a few months now but interest in the campaign we created for L’Oreal Paris in Second Life continues. DM News is running a feature on the approach we took. Full article here.

The importance of branding in a recession (for KT&T VW’s)

How is the global recession going to impact virtual worlds in the kids, tween and teen virtual world sectors? A question in the minds of dozens of management teams of these worlds.


One early and obvious casualty from these economic times is a reduction in marketing budgets from advertisers. Marketers are being forced to re-examine their proposed expenditure and cut-back in areas typically classified as non-traditional or without demonstrable returns. Not good news for virtual worlds with business models relying on advertising and marketing from third-parties.


This issue is unfortunately further compounded because these marketers are probably also fearing for their jobs at the same time and more likely to ‘keep their heads down‘ rather than ‘stick their necks out‘ and propose virtual world campaigns.


On this basis, revenues from users (via premium subscriptions and micro-transactions) becomes paramount to the short and medium term success of these VW’s – and even more so due to the fact that this sector is already highly competitive and leaning towards over-supply. VW’s need to create strategies which improve on the conversion rates between active and paying users. The good news here is that small improvements on this conversion rate can lead to major revenue upsides.


So really, the key here is to focus on the buying process psychology related to ‘upgrading’ member accounts. And it’s the parents/guardians of members who are the target here as these are the people with the power, or more accurately, the credit card.


What’s needed here is the re-assurance from the VW’s directly to the parents that rewarding their children with premium services is a good thing – value for money essentially.


I’ve spoken several times about the challenges facing what I call ‘Pure-Plays’ – virtual worlds created solely for online purposes without a real-world awareness or presence. These companies have several challenges – grow their user bases, grow their user bases and compete against well-known brands with their own worlds and the positioning/establishment of their own brands. It’s this third point which is sometimes overlooked.


Of course, as the slide shown left identifies, there are several factors presented threats and issues for virtual worlds but in a recession I strongly believe the role of brand is the key to unlocking the value in active user bases.


The brand needs to get into the real world in order to build awareness and to a high degree credibility with the parents. They’re not going to dish out their valuable disposable income without being convinced of the value and most importantly, trusting the company.


What does getting into the real world actually mean?

. Continue reading →

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