According to an Internet Investment Guide released by JP Morgan, and graciously digested for us by the fine folks at Virtual World News, the wide world of the massively multiplayer is not one large mass of gaming goodness as we typically believe. According to JP, from the perspective of potential investors, there are two segments of the MMO market worth looking at; there's the part of the industry aimed at adults with which we typically concern ourselves, and there are virtual worlds aimed at children. While adult MMOs are likely to be an area of growth in the new year, they recommend that investors be "bullish" on children's MMOs because they're already incredibly mainstream, and represent a surer avenue for growth.
If you've ever witnessed the ravenous hunger with which 'tween girls pursue Webkinz, the collectible stuffed animal - MMO crossover, you'll immediately recognize the salience of JP's findings. Parents support these sorts of games because they represent closed areas of the internet where kids can safely entertain themselves on the computer without much concern about illicit content or child predators. Kids like the games because they're usually specifically tailored to their tastes and age level. And developers support them because they're comparatively easy to develop and, with the appropriate retail tie-in a la Webkinz, make companies money hand over fist. So if you're looking for a good investment, look past an Activision Blizzard, and pick up a kid-oriented company instead.