Virtual worlds predictions for 2010
1. OpenSim will continue or even improve on its growth trajectory
2. Australia will have its first government funded virtual environment
3. Closures – it’s not a desirable prediction to make, but unfortunately it’s also a fairly safe one. There’ll be company and/or platform failures
4. Intellectual property disputes
5. Integration – Whether it be Second Life or Habbo Hotel, the level of integration between virtual environments and social media services will increase. Whether it’s a Facebook Connect sign-in or the ability to Tweet from Second Life, that functionality will move from the plugin / add-on phase to core architecture more commonly.
6. ABC in Second Life
7. The mandatory ISP filter – If the legislation passes during 2010, there remains a real possibility of adult content in Second Life and elsewhere falling foul of the filter.
8. Taxation of virtual goods – 2010 will see the United States further formalise taxation arrangements in regard to virtual goods. I doubt the Australian Tax Office will make any substantive rulings in the coming twelve months.
9. Gaming worlds – 2010 is going to see the largest MMO launch since World of Warcraft: Star Wars The Old Republic.
10. Social games – this year saw social games like Farmville take off in a big way. There’ll be some significant fatigue from users with these platforms, but there’ll also be further innovation to make them more engaging and with easier integration of virtual goods without the spam-like accompaniments that plague people’s Twitter of Facebook timelines. Overall: continuation of exponential growth, albeit not at the same level it has been the past six months.