Introduction Some interesting Internet statistics Penetration:
The high-fidelity 3D video gaming, 3D visualization and simulation (VizSim) and virtual worlds (VW) markets are expanding rapidly due to increased penetration of high speed broadband, pervasiveness of computers with high-end graphic processor units (GPU) and enhancements in operating systems. Until recently, these industries have existed in their own right with little overlap and varying business models. In parallel, the emergence of sophisticated social networking applications on the internet such as Facebook and MySpace have attracted hundreds of millions of users.
Some interesting Internet statistics
Broad Band Access:
PC users with broadband access (432m as at 2009 with 652m projection in 2013). An increase of 150%.
Source: based on Point Topic Data
PC users with a computer that has a 512MB GPU - 200m as at 2009 and based on linear growth 618m by 2013.
Source: Jon Peddie Tech Watch Research – GPU Market
Some interesting VizSim and Virtual World industry statistics
The Acacia Research Group (www.acaciarg.com ), a specialist research company focusing on 3D and visualization technologies, released a survey showing that worldwide spending on all aspects of 3D visualization and simulation (VizSim market) are on the rise. Sales of 3D simulation products are expected to rise to US $31.5 billion by 2011 (from $22.1 billion in 2006). This increase is across all product areas, including hardware, software and services. Currently the largest element of the 3D simulation industry is hardware with 54% of the market, but that number is expected to fall to 49% by 2011 as the demand for software and services increases. The reason for hardware dominance is that most real-time simulations require high-performance computers for their operation.
Interest in Virtual World technologies is on the rise with more than $2 billion invested in Virtual World companies during the 2007 and 2008 calendar years. The total number of Virtual World companies as at November 2008 is estimated to be greater than 112. Of these, only a few vendors such as Unity 3D and Mycosm provide high-fidelity 3D environments. The number of people using virtual worlds is increasing at a rate of 15% every month and this growth does not appear to be stopping or slowing down anytime soon. (Hof, 2006; Gartner, 2007 cited by Bray and Konsynski 2007).
IMVU CEO Cary Rosenzweig notes that his company is generating $1 million per month from the sale of virtual goods. Zynga, a provider of multi-player web-based games, apparently had $50 million in 2008 revenue, primarily from the sale of virtual goods.
Total Size Growth of User Base
Individual virtual world company growth can be directly attributed to the demographic and size of the population for any given virtual world offering.
According to recent reports from the industry analyst’s In-Sat and Strategy Analytics, the total number of registered virtual world users will exceed 1 billion by 2018, with total revenue of between $3 and $8 Billion in market value.
Worldwide growth in VW registered users is forecast to grow from 186 million in 2009 to 638 million in 2015.
The active user base is expected to grow from 23 million to 160 million over the same period.
VW revenue generation was $1.2 billion in 2008. Advertising 10% ($120m), virtual goods 68% ($816m) and member fees 22% ($264m).
(Source: State of the Virtual World Markets by Barry Gilbert, VP and Research Director, Engage Conference New York, May 2010)
According to Harvey Cohen, President of Strategy Analytics, "Virtual worlds present a unique marketing opportunity to target a highly sought demographic, and virtual worlds should be part of a company’s marketing portfolio".
It is clear that opening up marketing opportunities to specific demographics can create significant returns in terms of the sale of real world and virtual goods e.g. in a Marketing Voices podcast hosted by Jennifer Jones