Sunday, September 7, 2008

Linden VP Ginsu Yoon Says "kids and games are just the flavor of the month"

Good article in the Statesman on the proliferation of kiddie virtual worlds and new stuff introduced at Virtual Worlds Expo. It mentions the lineup of kiddie virtual worlds with toy tie ins including Irwin Toys Me2, a new virtual gaming device pedometer that kids can wear during the day and plug into a virtual-world game at night with the amount of "energy" they have to play in the virtual world depends on how much they walked in the real world.´ The article also mentions Hasbro and its latest Littlest Pet Shop VIPs (Virtual Interactive Pets) that kids can play with in the real world and also in a virtual world online and others.

But what struck PaymentGuy was the out of the blue quote from Ginsu Yoon, Linden's VP Business "Affairs" who said;

"Kids and games may rule for now, but Second Life and virtual worlds like it are still very much alive and kicking, said Ginsu Yoon, vice president of business affairs for Second Life creator Linden Lab. "Frankly, (kids and games) are just the flavor of the month,". Yoon is quick to point out that Second Life is a profitable business that's been around for about six years. It has nearly 15 million registered "residents" who can build houses, buy land and trade goods worth millions in real-world dollars every month. But Yoon also acknowledged Second Life is nothing like it was — or what some people expected it would become.

Right! Ok! PG's got it now. Barbie Online, HABBO, Club Penguin, NeoPets, Webkinz, are short term fads - like Pet Rocks, Rubics Cubes and ChiaPets.

OY! Disney, Hasbro, Mattel - your throwing your money away on a fad! The 100 million + kids, moms and dads are naive band-wagoning sheep who live in ignorance of the fact the 3D visual immersive internet of the future is already here but just unevenly distributed. Don't you know that? Ok, gotcha! Thanks for clearing that up.

Oh, by the way, HABBO and Neopets are both lots older than SL.

Hearing a Linden Exec blow off a massive existing and real business opportunity like kiddie / youth / teen / family virtual worlds as flavor of the month is truly astonishing. Especially when LL could get a taste of this with their own Teen world, otherwise known to the select few as Teen Second Life. No wonder Teen Second Life is languishing as a virtual endless-summer-school-pergatory for pointy heads.

Teen SL should be the money making teen virtual launch pad crunching serious dough like Gaia, Nexon, Sulake, GANZ or Disney Interactive rather than just a distraction from the real 3d internet stuff happenin' over at the Grid with the MIT Engineers ... But how could it be if the dudes in charge think kids, teens and mom and dad all over are just fooling around with this just for fun short term kiddie-virtual world fad thing and will eventually start drinking the more sophisticated and serious SL-flavored virtual koolaid any minute now?

The article goes on to talk about Dell and the other companies who have left SL;
"Many companies that invested real money in advertising and online virtual stores on Second Live have pulled the plug. Users who once logged on daily have now found something else to do with their time and money. Dell Inc., for instance, created "Dell Island" on Second Life in November 2006, with high expectations that visitors would go there to meet other Dell users, catch up on company news and — most important — buy computers and equipment. But while the island was created to host 400 avatars, it sometimes has no visitors. Dell gave up trying to sell computers on "Dell Island" because it wasn't worth the cost or trouble, said Laura Thomas, who is responsible for the computer maker's virtual world programs."

On that note, PG thinks LL would be a lot more successful with the enterprise sector if it evolved its strategy from exploring affairs with business and focused on securing and developing serious committed long-term corporate relationships. Maybe even - virtual Gods forbid - business partnerships in real life? Real world old-school meat-space business practice truly works and gets results. Maybe Linden needs an old-school, real life VP of Business "Development" to get this?

All the tech glitches, bugs, scaling probs and other issues aside, PG cannot help think there is something simpler, more fundamental and visceral contributing to the mass exodus of Corporate America and Enterprise Europe from Second Life. Maybe, just maybe, an arrogant, pompous, condescending, know-it-all attitude simply pisses people (and Fortune 500 companies) off?

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