Beyond Second Life

Virtual worlds got a lot of love this week, as top execs from media companies like MTV Networks , speaking at the first ever Virtual Worlds conference, lavished praise upon them as a promotional vehicle and a space for brands to shine. Jeffrey Yapp, executive vice president of MTVN, cited Pepsi's virtual sales in Virtual Laguna Beach -- 95% of users ended up buying the products offered.

MTV also announced a new virtual world product to join its Virtual Laguna Beach and Virtual Hills. The Virtual "Pimp My Ride" property will allow users to enter an online version of Van Nuys, California -- one of the centers of car culture-and customize cars, race them, and join clubs.

The Virtual Worlds Conference this week echoes lessons learned at OMMA Hollywood earlier this month. For example, there was The Marketing in the Virtual World panel, moderated by Kellie Parker of PC World Magazine with panelists Gary Goldhammer, vice president of interactive solutions for Edelman and Andrew Littlefield, CCO for virtual world design firm Doppelganger.



One of the key takeaways from that panel was that many marketers are making the mistake of assuming that Second Life is the be-all and end-all of virtual worlds. In fact, MTV is seeing a lot of success -- and garnering a lot of positive press attention -- by doing what every major media company could do relatively easily: taking the settings of their popular properties and turning them into virtual worlds. Every viewer with a touch of fandom has imagined themselves as part of the world they enjoy so much, at least in passing. And the secret to every successful game is to fulfill that player fantasy.

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