It wouldn’t be the end of a calendar year without making some predictions for the coming twelve months. Here’s a handful of predictions – some are fairly safe, others push the envelope a little:
1. Australia will see its first legal action in regards to a virtual world – Second Life is likely to be the battlefield and it’s likely to involve an intellectual property dispute or financial regulation issues.
2. Second Life viability will remain under question – there’s not likely to be a sudden improvement in the technical issues confronting the platform. The reality for Australian users of Second Life is at least another 6 months of laggy virtual world experience. There’s been rumours of a deal between Linden Lab and Telstra to locate Second Life servers locally – we can only hope. Expect lots of negative mainstream and Second Life blogosphere press if the status quo remains.
3. VastPark will flourish – we’ve covered the VastPark virtual world platform a few times and its evolution has been promising. If the platform delivers what it promises during 2008, much interest should be garnered. I wouldn’t be surprised to see VastPark acquired by one of the bigger players. Vastpark’s Australian operations make this one we’ll be watching closely.
5. There’ll be failures aplenty – World of Warcraft will remain the dominant gaming MMO and of the swathe of launches touted, some will obviously fail. Claims are being made about the Conan and Warhammer franchises making some serious inroads. I’m not convinced that either will be enormously successful although neither lack significant backing and associated marketing power. And it’s not as if Blizzard will be sitting on their hands – the Wrath of the Lich King expansion for World of Warcraft is on its way.
6. Australian business will remain conservative – 2007 saw the entrance of corporations like Telstra, the ABC and the REA Group into Second Life. I doubt there’ll be as many large presences launched in 2008. There’s still major skepticism out there about virtual worlds as a business tool – it remains only a research and development option in the eyes of business and 2008 is unlikely to change that. One disclaimer – if Google do launch a virtual world product, then all bets are off. On a related note – I predict Telstra’s SydSim development in Second Life will not cut the mustard for larger businesses and for those that do set up in that location, there’ll be consternation of how little traffic is generated.
7. Mainstream media will continue to get it wrong – aside from some of the more savvy technology journalists, mainstream media reporting on virtual world developments will remain hit and miss. 2007 had some real clangers and you can expect that to continue.
Most importantly, what are your predictions for the coming year? Make a comment here and see how right or wring you are when we revisit the predictions in a year’s time.