Tags Posts tagged with "IMVU @en"

IMVU @en

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small shops SL cover

small shops SLVirtual small shops present on the online immersive platform Second Life, of  the Californian Linden Lab (surely not the most “populated” among the more than180 virtual worlds currently operating, but still one of the most famous names in the industry, over ten years after its opening), are shrinking?  Janine Hawkins (aka Iris Ophelia in SL) asked the question, trying to give some explanations, in particular noting how the integration and gradual full acceptance of SL Marketplace has probably led many content producers who have developed a commercial offer aimed at users of Second Life to keep smaller spaces “in world” so as to reduce costs by better integrating their online small shops or malls on SL Marketplace. I am convinced that Janine/Iris is right in part, but neglects some of the reasons behind the trend.

On the one hand, in fact, Second Life still resist some great virtual “malls”, almost always tied to historical names, well-known and therefore probably with a higher turnover (I think to some Italian brands like Donna FloraBabele Fashion, or Meb), on the other hand it is also true that the trend of opening of new mega-malls and mega-shop is very slow, but this also happens in the real world, especially in Europe (and particularly in Italy, where where I know, indeed, that some large structures are beginning to close, or at least to reduce staffs), because of the high fixed costs and the collapse in demand due to a debt crisis that has tried (badly) to cure so far with policies of fiscal austerity, forced recovery of productivity and exasperated with the attention to cutting costs (and investment, if not directed at strengthening the export).

small shops SLAdded this to the fact that even in countries such as China and Brazil (from which most of the new generation of users of Second Life) economic growth is slowing down and you will understand how it is probable that the costs have assumed a considerable importance in decreeing a reduction in the size of stores on the platform (which has operating costs for users but also for Linden Lab, much higher than in the marketplace on the web).

Not only that: SL remains perhaps the best known, but as said, not the most populatedvirtual world or the one with the higher turnover related to the sale of content between users, since they are still a greater number oftransactions and a higher total and virtual worlds such as IMVU, which has already passed in August of 2012 the 100 million registered accounts and records concurrency firmly on 100-110thousand users per day, compared to 45-55 thousand of SL, or MMORPGs like World of Warcraft, for groped to curb the decline of active users, which fell by 1.3 million in the firstquarter of 2013 to just over 8 million monthly active users, is exploring the possibility of allowing micro-paynments directly “in world”.

small shops SLIn short, ten years after the launch of Second Life, the virtual worlds industry as a whole has witnessed a “boom” of online transactions related to the sale of content between users, but the “free” model adopted by the Californian platform continues to present some risks and requires careful management of costs by both the management company (Linden Lab or any other) and the common users.

It is therefore not at all strange that long past the euphoria and the dominance of hypertrophied egos, waiting for someone to come back to tell epic stories, so to bring and retain a higher number of users who face down the domestic economy to virtual worlds, many have decided to close up shop, or resize, at the same time learning how to use the most of the space on SL Marketplace and possibly starting to look at other platforms as a possible source of income. Which, indirectly, it could make it even more important the planning of advertising and communication campaigns on editorial projects on the web as Mondivirtuali.it, but that’s another story.

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PoptropicaVirtual worlds continue to enjoy good health, at least those dedicated to the “teen” and in general for users under the age of 25 years, at the end of June had reached a total of over 972 million registered accounts,on a total of approximately 1.4 billion accounts for all the virtual worlds. A success that involves, according to numbers released by consulting firm Kzero (you can find them here), worlds like Poptropica (platform dedicated to 6-15 years old users, which in the second quarter registered 26 millions of new users, reaching a total of 170 millions), Stardoll (+22 millions at 116 millions total), Habbo Hotel (+20 millions at 220 millions), Moshi Monsters (+16 millions at 50 millions) and for a lesser extent IMVU (+5 millions, reaching 55 millions total) and Minecraft (+5millions at 10 millions).

Instead remains a niche far less lively virtual worlds aimed at users over 25 years,  like Second Life (at the end of semester up to 27 million of registered accounts), with a total growth of only 3 millions (42 millions total), just over 1,4% of the total growth of new accounts in the quarter (214 million overall). To be true, more users do not necessarily mean more loyal users or users who are most willing to “spend” in order to obtain a better online experience, so it would be interesting to know how many of these “newbies” continue to use the platforms to which sign up (apparently subscribing to multiple platforms, since the number of Internet users around the world should slightly exceed the 11-1,1 billion units) and what is the ARPU (average revenue per user) of the different virtual worlds.

moshi monsterAs s consolation for “adult” users (over 30 years),Second Life remains by far the platform with most members, followed far from Utherverse (the second platform developed by Red Light Center, even in this case dedicated only to adult users) with 8 million registered users, while Blue Mars and Twinity are virtual worlds collecting only a small fraction of users (generally around or less than one million accounts), with only eRepublic (2.5 million subscribers) able to overcome the barrier of 2 million accounts in all other virtual worlds for over 25 years users. In short, if you had not realized, for now the typical mode of use of virtual worlds is that of the online games, addressed to a young audience. For other uses, in the artistic, educational or business fields, Second Life with all its limits does not seem to have many alternatives (unless you look at IMVU, that is frequented by users with an average age around 22-23 years, or at 45 millions registered users of Dofus, which have an average age slightly higher, around 23-24 years).

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heartquake japan teddy bear solidarity

The earthquake and subsequent tsunami on 11 March 2011 resulted in 10,102 confirmed dead in Japan and 17,053 missing, a total that could exceed the 25,000 victims according to authorities. While they have been kicked off the first mass burial, many Japanese still are not now able to know if their loved ones are alive or dead, in this case if their remains have been recovered and buried.

heartquake japan teddy bear solidarityTragedies such this one occurred already in the recent past for the Abruzzo region, can not leave anyone indifferent and so is usually used for entertainment platforms such as Second Life (where Linden Lab has officially launched the sale of “teddy bearsfor charity) or social games like Cityville (through which Zynga, with the help of Facebook, has opened a subscription: http://www.zynga.org/about/blog.php#japan) these days have started campaigns to try to bring aids to affected populations, which in addition to the destruction by land and sea have been fighting a series of fires before, then the risk of a nuclear  disaster and the intense cold of winter.

Literally countless charities then carried out by private individuals, ranging from evenings with Charity Auctions to sales that involve the payment of a portion of the proceeds to international bodies like the Red Cross (as reported, for example, this post).

Obviously not everyone thinks this type of corrective action or otherwise sufficiently reliable: the IMVU‘s forums (platform whose users have already started a group for those interested in relief operations) are discussing (here) as to whether or not to indicate a selected number of institutions which donate funds to be used in aid or even the desirability of individual businesses or home users IMVU itself rather than to collect that money, instead of finding ways to send directly private aids to Japanese residents.

IMVU charityLegitimate doubts that I personally believe should  be dispelled with the maximum transparency (how many times in the past we have seen charitable collections made ​​with great enthusiasm to remain free of the most basic elements about the payment of amounts to the institutions on whose behalf they were organized and how many times we have heard of aids that even come to these organizations were also “lost along the way” and never arrived to those in need), but not modifying a dramatic situation in which those who can should try tohelp out, either personally or through channels and institutions who can be trusted. Or we mayonly do philosophy as thousands of people could die due to the aftermath of a cataclysm that has already caused casualties among the highest in human history.

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    Imvu cover

    Rod HumbleSecond Life has a real alternative? The question remains valid even at the beginning of 2011, almost four years after the explosion (and the rapid de-boom) of the media hype about the virtual world developed by Californian Linden Lab, where since last January 13 has come yet another new Ceo, Rod Humble (fomer Executive Vice President af  Electronic Artssee there), replacing Philip Rosendale (aka Philip Linden) “re-called to active duty” last summer during the restructuring of the company that has seen hundreds of employees laid off and Ceo Mark Kingdom (aka M Linden) leaving the scene.  Leave aside personal hopinons and hopes, let we talk some numbers to see how at the time does not seem to be alternatives around the corner, at least in terms of “mass market” (so to speak, because the virtual world as a whole seems a small niche of the web, for many characterized by a growth much slower than everyone imagined at the time).

    Member sof Second Life are currently about 21.9 million but only 1,397,000 of them have made at least one log in the last 60 days, while the closest competitor, Blue Mars, waiting to be able to land on iPhones and iPads has in fact been frozen by Avatar Reality, which still last March had raised an additional $ 4.2 million, bringing to more than 13 million dollar funding received for 100,000 registered users stated (but has never been told how many of these were really active) and now dismisses most of the employees with the same Ceo, Jim Sink, who left the company.

    Habbo HotelOpensim project, bornin 2007 from an idea of Darren Guard (aka MW), said to date nearly 70 grid with a number of public access Second Life viewer, with over 11,800 regions, 107 thousand subscribers and 17,400 users who have a log in the last 30 days, with OSGrid by far the most popular with over 52,300 members and 5,351 active users in the last 30 days. If you want to see different numbers need to look at phenomena that recall the more social games or virtual communities such as Habbo Hotel, of Sulake, which June 14, 2010 celebrated 10 years of age boasting172 million registered avatars and 15 million unique visitors monthly, or as Stardoll, which said to have 19.5 million unique users per month ie as the sum of Stardoll.com, Piczo.com and PaperDollHeaven.com users, specifying to have an audience mainly of girls of 15-20 years.

    IMVU on FBDo you want a proof of how many scarce alternative to Second Life there are with regard to the 3D virtual worlds for “over 18” people? If you go to the Facebook, about 130,000 people like Stardoll fanpage, Second Life holds more than 105,000 “fans“, Habbo Hotel (which has a younger target audience of Facebook) recorded with various fanpage about 14,000 members, Blue Mars fanpage does not reach the 300 members, Opensim collects less than 400 people despite having more than one fanpage. Surprisingly IMVU (which is more like a chat in 3D and is for a younger target of users than a real virtual world) have over 1.84 million fans (even stating little more than 50 million members and nearly 20 million monthly visitors, see there), which for a company of 60 employees is an excellent result. Maybe that in the short term is IMVU the real alternative to more “mature” virtual worlds like Second Life?

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      Imvu chatroom

      IMVU lukemaryIf you are among those who think Second Life is too complex for them, a comparison with other MMORPGs, virtual worlds and 3D chats, will clarify the ideas. Recently a friend suggested me to sign up and try IMVU, an instant messaging client developed by IMVU Inc., which until now declares 46 millions of registered users, with about 6 million unique visitors per month (i.e. about 10 time the number of active residents of Second Life) which as of last October appeared to have generated revenues of $ 25 million (the program currently generates about $ 2 million in revenues per month almostentirely due to the use of messaging services).

      IMVU is an initiative of the Will Harvey, creator even of There.com, and is known for having the largest catalog of virtual goods in the world with over 4 million items produced using a special software (the Autodesk 3ds Max, formerly known as 3D Studio MAX of Autodesk Media and Entertainment) by more than 100,000 content creators, stuff to embarrass the metaverse of Linden Lab, enough for my curiosity to drop by and see what it is (with the caveat that IMVU like SL, is formally in “beta” phase since April 2004, then it is possible that in future  may be radically different from the current version).

      ImvuWhat to say: accustomed to the almost endless customization of your avatar go to choose a doll from a limited number of choices and being able only to decide which item of clothing to add to my inventory (as in SL some are free, some for sale, even if unlike SL you have available from the beginning 1,500 “credits“, worth about 3 articles of clothing or pay one to two different “rooms“, but if you complete the light tutorial you will gain 1,000 more) I was disappointed, but probably for the target audience (I would say definitely adolescents given the cartoon-style characters) less choice means less indecision. Obviously, the less choice is also in the quality of clothing, at least initially, with t-shirts, shirts and “gentleman” suits that in the case of a little more than newbie users of Second Life would let drop their arms.

      Would let drop” because our doll made in IMVU is almost immobile, perhaps logical since we are talking about a chat or instant messaging system and not a true virtual world where characters are a relatively contour compared in dialogues. It may in fact decide to animate the avatar (just as in SL) making him talk about the “body talk” to better emphasize the concepts expressed in words or voice, but you can not (unlike SL) neither go to the subjective view (also if the remainder of the cam can help turn the vision just as in SL), nor walk through the environment: simply moving the mouse over an item by clicking on the scenario and see your puppet instantly assume the posture (standing or sitting) programmed for the particular item of furniture (floor, chairs, sofas etc).

      Imvu avatarsIn short: IMVU reminds me of the now “classic” animated chat, which for years, first in 2D and now in 3D, animate the web and because of the the way they were I suspect that the interaction between players (hard to call them “residents” given the low level of perceived empathy) is limited to chat with other players (or some sort of role playing game), unless you’re able to create a graphic backgrounds, clothing, animations, poses and accessories for the characters to be sold within the game. I confess: used to highly immersive experience of virtual worlds like Second Life and certainly due to age (I’m 43 years after all, not 20-22 like mostof the millions of chatters on IMVU according to the analysis of Kzero) a discouragement took me after less than an hour of “exploration” (so to speak, since one can do nothing but enter into the various “rooms” and start to chat, text or voice, with those presents, since outside the three-dimensional representation of the room there is a cosmic void) and I decided to leave, returning to my RL commitments and expect to spend an evening in SL as soon as possible to “recover from theshock“.