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Why Virtual Worlds Are Overtaking the Game Industry

More and more game developers seem to be turning their attention to virtual worlds. Why? Although games can have communities around them, virtual worlds do very well in facilitating communities. Perhaps gamemakers could learn some valuable lessons from worlds like Second Life or Raph Koster's newly announced Metaplace.

The bar for online gaming has been raised, with community becoming as important as gameplay. Virtual worlds and Web 2.0 habits are driving users to worlds that support socializing instead of questing and user-created content instead of magic. World of Warcraft may have nine million subscribers, but Habbo Hotel has 7.5 million users per month, and it's growing. BarbieGirls.com grew at over 40,000 new members per day to reach four million registered users after only three months of its public beta. Gartner Research predicts that 80 percent of the online population will be involved in non-gaming virtual worlds by 2011.

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