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A new Virtual World winter

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With dozens of companies jumping on the virtual world bandwagon, being seen now as a natural extension of the marketing for a new IP, it seems virtual worlds are healthier since they have been in ten years. But what if it isn't? What if Second Life does not have as many "hardcore" users as they claim? What if dozens or hundreds of competing virtual worlds are fragmenting an already small market so much that none can survive? What if the various virtual worlds fail to standardize on base technologies and are continually forced to develop each virtual world from scratch? What if the virtual world industry is headed for a "winter" where every virtual world must struggle for survival -- and where most will inevitably perish?

These questions, and others, are posed by Bruce Damer in his paper, "A New Virtual World Winter?".In part 1, he looks at the signs that the VW industry is headed toward a chasm from which few will emerge. In part 2, he will examine ways in which the industry can cross the chasm without falling in, as happened in the years between 2000 and 2003, when all the groundbreaking work in Virtual Worlds done in the 80s and 90s stumbled, fell into a chasm, and disappeared.

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