Companies and 3D Virtual Worlds: one detailed analysis

stavros There’s an ever-growing pile of books on virtual worlds available, ranging from tour guides to detailed ethnography.

One publication that slipped under the radar for me at least (it was published in May 2008) is Companies and Virtual 3D Worlds – Analysis of Business Model at the Example of Second Life. Written by Stavros Pechlivanidis, a Managing Consultant and IT Specialist for IBM Global Services, this book is actually a Masters Thesis for Pechlivanidis’ MBA studies, and it shows. I mean that in a positive way, in that it’s apparent a lot of research has gone into the final product. That said, this isn’t a book for the faint hearted and is probably only suited to people working in business who are taking an in-depth look at the applicability of virtual worlds for their enterprise. Publisher VDM Verlag kindly provided me a review copy, so read on for my thoughts below.

What has impressed me with this book is the strategic view it takes. There’s plenty of information on the macro environmental factors impacting virtual worlds (political, social, economic and technological), including some great evaluation of these factors:

Other aspects covered include virtual world industry segmentation and their individual success factor, and a business model overview for virtual worlds. This leads directly into the guts of the thesis: analysing the different business models within Second Life. Everything from Anshe Chung to currency exchanges are examined in the context of the research literature on business models more broadly. Three broad categories are cited: C-Business (creative business models), I-Business (interconnectedness between real world and virtual world or between different virtual worlds as a way of doing business) and V-Business (virtual business occurring solely in a virtual world). It provides Pechlivanidis a springboard from which to analyse the strategic opportunities for business across all three spheres.

Overall, this is an extremely comprehensive book that is aimed squarely at business. It’s breadth and rigour make it a desirable reference source as business shows more interest in virtual worlds. It stands out for its provision of new information rather than just summarising information found elsewhere, which isn’t unexpected given its academic underpinnings.

You can buy the book from our bookstore by clicking here or if you’d prefer we not get a (very small) cut, the direct Amazon link is here.

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