At the Tokyo Game Show, Microsoft and Sony announced that later this year they would be each unveiling virtual worlds accessible via gaming consoles. While the Sony Playstation 3 would have a “Home”, Microsoft would have a “Xbox Experience” that would let users interact virtually.
Virtual worlds have been growing in prominence the few years. They have been more popular in the gaming community where group tasks and competing among fellow players has been popular ever since network gaming came into picture. Linden Labs took the concept forward to have a virtual environment with even its separate currency.
Virtual worlds logically fit well into the progression of content online. From text, video and audio, the next iteration is to put the very user online. Its an interesting twist on the concept of advertising as well. Now the Avatars themselves will ‘ad-property’.
Microsoft’s and Sony’s move in this direction could well be to expand beyond making the consoles just about games to make the devices a solution for complete entertainment. Google also had entered this space a few months back with the announcement of ‘Lively’. Since then there has not been much news on it but the search giant does have an eye on the advertising market around gaming.
Virtual Worlds also have lot of potential in the business domain. Benefits include cost savings in transportation and also the much desired bliss of working from home but virtually in office. Of course there are all the applications that virtual worlds can be put to in medicine, engineering etc but the real killer one is yet to take the world by storm.