Lesson 1: The World is Not Enough
I’ve been to Niagara Falls. It was great for about 20 minutes. Then I left.
I left because I got it – I took in and admired the scenery and then left because there was nothing else to do.
I think this applies to a lot of the virtual worlds I’ve visited. Sure, they might have looked great but once I’d got a handle on the visual elements of the environment I got bored and left. And this probably explained why there were not many other people there whilst I was – because they thought the same thing.
This may be an explanation why Playstation Home has been in beta so long – it looks great but there’s nothing to do. And this probably explains why Sony is working hard to add in more experience and functionality.
But what sorts of things keep people retained and engaged in virtual worlds?
Well, people tend to attract people (crowd effect) but that’s more of an output than an input. Stimulation is important I think – things to do in-world that interest or stimulate people. This might be games for certain demographics, entertainment for some and even education for others. But fundamentally there needs to be relevance and a shared interest. This relevance comes from defining the wants and needs from the target market that world is going after – no single world can appeal to everyone.
Lesson 2: Some things are better left 2D