Beyond Second Life: Kids drive virtual worlds

The future of virtual worlds focus is kids. In this recent article at the New York Times focuses on the success of Club Penguin and Webkinz and the entertainment they are providing for children online.

The reason these sites are so appealing to companies is both the volume of children and the profit they can provide for a company. These web worlds are quick and easy to start online and they can also instill a new sense of brand loyalty in children. Today, 8.2 million kids are on these sites, and it is predicted that 20 million children will frequent these sites by 2011. Club Penguin gets seven times more traffic than Second Life. The market for this is huge.

Another reason these sites are so appealing to companies who market to kids the possibility to introduce new characters in a different atmosphere to children. Then they can then produce toys after the children who are users have formed an attachment to the characters online. With the sales of DVDs and television syndication slowing, the companies may have found new ways to get their products out to the new generation.

As with anything when it involves marketing got children, there are several concerns. Is this just a fad with the children? Will the money be soon lost as it was gained? There is also the ever constant worry of parents of children on the internet: safety. Most sites now have precautions in place. Will the high level be kept up in the future?

While companies marketing to kids are jumping on the online community bandwagon, so are others. In a recent post at Enterprise 3, Thiago posted about IBM joining virtual worlds, in the form of Second Life. This goes to show that virtual worlds are not only for children, but they can provide a valuable asset for corporations that focus on adults. Instead of juvenile play worlds, IBM and Second Life have created a community that can foster collaboration and interaction between those who look to IBM for technical resources.

As with any virtual world online, each company can modify it’s uses to tailor fit the product to the atmosphere and product of the company. Whether its penguins on an online world for kids, or avatars working together for a solution to an IT problem, virtual worlds are becoming a huge part of interaction in today’s society.


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