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One billion people will flock to virtual worlds by 2017

James Egan

Market research and consulting firm Strategy Analytics has forecasted a surge in virtual world registrations over roughly the next decade. The firm's study is titled 'Market Forecasts for Virtual World Experiences - from Habbo Hotel to Second Life and Beyond - 2008 to 2017.' It posits that roughly 22 percent of global broadband users will participate in one or more virtual worlds on some level. The end result will be a global virtual world market with one billion registrants. That throng of virtual world residents will provide an estimated eight billion USD in service opportunities for companies that learn how to do business effectively in these spaces.

Strategy Analytics has been keeping a close eye on virtual worlds of late. The firm released another report on the growing market in May, as well as a presentation seemingly geared towards fledgling companies wishing to capitalize on what might seem to them an abstract, if not bizarre, new market. Adrian Bowles, Executive Director of Virtual World Strategies at Strategy Analytics, writes, "For this generation it is as natural to interact with a friend represented by a flying cat as it is for real world senior citizens to gather in a town center and reminisce," for his 'Finding Business Value in Virtual Worlds' presentation. The Strategy Analytics next-decade projections are specifically for non-gaming virtual worlds. Were they to include the massively multiplayer online market, the global figures would likely be drastically higher.

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