Monday, October 12, 2009

Standing Out From the Crowd

So you want to launch a virtual world? Or maybe relaunch your existing world? If either, how do you make this virtual world stand out from the crowd? Here are some themes and ideas you may consider;
1. Eco - very niche and currently not (that over-) explored. Why not start with 1 eco-system (e.g.; Rainforest, Jungle) and branch into others, desert, forest, ocean, arctic, resulting in 5 virtual world themes (on the same platform) for variety and brand differentiation? Check out Jumpstart's recently launched MarineLand

2. Education - you can differentiate with eduction and make this world one of the defacto educational offerings for young kids, teens, families, adults and acceptable even in school or college curriculums. Why not?

3. Platformization - you want to build a platform to publish, launch and develop all of your virtual world ideas so it scales. Disney Interactive Group has a portfolio of virtual worlds all on different technologies an platform. You want to harmonize development and distribution over one central infra to scale and deploy for competitive advantage and lean development and production. That said, your payment and merchandise distribution infra and marketing mediums will allow you to publish and springboard new worlds and online (offline) offerings rapidly and cost-effectively;

4. Convergence - you want to not just do a pure-play virtual world (old news) you want to tie in real life content (video, pics of kids and families on trips etc...) so there is a novel augmented virtual and real feel to the places and scenes which fosters more user created content. You want to allow users who take vids and pics and share their own content (safely, easily and anonymously ... with parental approval)

5. Economy & Philanthropy - why not use your virtual economy for philanthropy? Club Penguin has done some good things here

6. open source development - I would consider early on open sourcing some of the platform and develop a network of partners (like Linden Lab created with its developer ecosystem) so other developers, causes, organizations and even big media could use your technology to produce other virtual worlds. Imagine being the defacto standard platform for kiddie/eco/enviro/ virtual worlds while also having your "premium platform" publishing your proprietary portfolio of branded worlds?

7. Mobile - you need your virtual world portfolio to address the mobile angle and how you will allow NOKIA/SAMSUNG/APPLE etc... a mobile entry vector to the world(s).

8. Family - when it comes to kids you want this for family activity so it is mom and dad approved.

9. Global - you want an internationalization plan and country rollout checklist so this is a truly global offering and has innovative language localization and communication features so e.g. kids in Sweden can talk to kids in Spain and German kids to Canadian kids in native languages (think simple BABEL Fish-like Apps)

Just a few thoughts on innovation/differentiation in the crowded virtual world space.

Even MacDonald's is doin' it!;)

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