2010 virtual worlds predictions review

It’s that time of the year again: looking back over the predictions made a year ago and seeing how right or wrong we were. We managed 7 out of 10 correct in 2009, so let’s see how it goes:

Prediction 1: OpenSim will continue or even improve on its growth trajectory – the momentum will continue, although a handful of larger grids are likely to have the lion’s share of that growth, with all the challenges that go along with it.

Pass – this has very much come to pass,and to some extent the growth challenges haven’t been major at this stage due to the number of grid options out there.

Prediction 2: Australia will have its first government funded virtual environment – a proposal is already underway to see this come to fruition. Education will be the focus, but the foresight of the proposal’s facilitators is likely to ensure it involves business, education and government in a collaborative partnership.

Fail – the proposal has stalled and although there’s a dedicated cohort of people still working at this, it certainly didn’t reach fruition during 2010.

Prediction 3: Closures – it’s not a desirable prediction to make, but unfortunately it’s also a fairly safe one. There’ll be company and/or platform failures. Some may be bought out, but like Metaplace in the past week, there’s going to be some outright shuttering of some environments. I have some specific ones in mind but don’t have the data to support naming them specifically as being on a ‘death watch’.

Pass – once touted as a Second Life competitor, There.com unfortunately closed its doors.

Prediction 4: Intellectual property disputes – The Eros vs Linden Lab action is likely to be resolved during 2010 and it will generate a large precedent in regards to virtual goods. Linden Lab will probably defend the action successfully, but the playing field will still have changed considerably.

Fail – the Eros case isn’t resolved as yet, so any precedents are far from established. Expect that to occur in the next few months though.

Prediction 5: Integration – Whether it be Second Life or Habbo Hotel, the level of integration between virtual environments and social media services will increase. Whether it’s a Facebook Connect sign-in or the ability to Tweet from Second Life, that functionality will move from the plugin / add-on phase to core architecture more commonly.

Pass – the Facebook connect option is spreading like wildfire, Linden Lab have done a lot of work this year in integrating logins between their web properties and Second Life itself, and the Twitter option is well and truly alive in Second Life (one example).

Prediction 6: ABC in Second Life – I don’t have any inside knowledge on this, and I really hope I’m proved wrong, but I can’t see the ABC continuing to fund its Second Life presence beyond 2010. For the past year, the majority of the activity on ABC Island has come from its tight-knit community, with support from ABC staff. With the burgeoning ABC Online continuing to grow, there’s always the risk that the Second Life component will be squeezed out. Please, prove us wrong on this one.

Fail – I’ve thankfully been proven wrong on this one so far.

Prediction 7: The mandatory ISP filter – If the legislation passes during 2010, there remains a real possibility of adult content in Second Life and elsewhere falling foul of the filter. There were some gob-smackingly naive acceptances of Linden Lab’s claim they’d heard nothing about being affected by the filter and therefore were not concerned. There’s a chance everything will be fine but given the blacklist isn’t defined, nothing is certain at this stage. Our prediction: Australia-specific verification mechanisms will need to be put in place for Second Life and other environments where content creation occurs.

N/A – The legislation is far from finalised so this prediction is neither right or wrong. More on that in the 2011 predictions next week.

Prediction 8: Taxation of virtual goods – 2010 will see the United States further formalise taxation arrangements in regard to virtual goods. I doubt the Australian Tax Office will make any substantive rulings in the coming twelve months.

Fail – If any further formalisation has occurred, it’s not been announced. The global financial crisis will have played a role there as well.

Prediction 9: Gaming worlds – 2010 is going to see the largest MMO launch since World of Warcraft: Star Wars The Old Republic. It won’t eclipse the incumbent but it will become the solid number 2 player in the short-term, with all bets off in the longer term. The second half of 2010 also sees the launch of the next World of Warcraft expansion, called Cataclysm. Head-to-head clashes in the MMO industry don’t get much bigger, and it’ll make for some fascinating times.

Fail – Star Wars the Republic is slated for an April 2011 release 😉

Prediction 10: Social games – this year saw social games like Farmville take off in a big way. There’ll be some significant fatigue from users with these platforms, but there’ll also be further innovation to make them more engaging and with easier integration of virtual goods without the spam-like accompaniments that plague people’s Twitter or Facebook timelines. Overall: continuation of exponential growth, albeit not at the same level it has been the past six months.

Pass – the growth has continued with some much needed Farmville alternatives. There’s been the fatigue factor which has led to some improvements.


Four out of nine (factoring in the non-applicable NBN legislation) isn’t a great result this year! I can claim it’s been a turbulent year for virtual worlds, and that’s true, but overall I’ve made the mistake of expecting progress too soon.

Over to you: what’s your take on 2010. Has it been disappointing, surprising or just plain evolutionary?


  1. The economy slowed down alot of progress with virtual worlds. Congrads @opensims for shining through

  2. Estelle Parnall says

    re taxation of virtual world transactions…
    I was wondering whether any outcomes from the Governments recently announced enquiry into off-shore internet shopping to avoid GST, may impact on virtual online transactions?

  3. Scott Traylor says

    So where are the predictions for 2011?

  4. Lowell Cremorne says

    Coming your way in the next few days 😉


  1. […] there’ll be a better success rate than last year. As always, would love to hear your thoughts on what you see occurring during 2011. If you’ve […]

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