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.
To the relief of all the organizers, the OMMA conference went off this week without any major hitches, and to my enormous relief, my in-game advertising panel was well-attended and, apparently, interesting. Five major execs, two from in-game ad networks, two from agencies, and one from a professional gaming league, gave the audience a big-picture view of the challenges that in-game advertising presents, and how advertisers can get involved.
It's good to be leaving for OMMA Hollywood this weekend, when we're getting a return to oppressive gray weather after a short spring tease. As a beat reporter, I never made it out to the West Coast for MediaPost's annual shindig, but this year I snuck myself into a moderator's chair, meaning I'll be basking in the L.A. sun come Sunday. On my panel, which is dubbed "The Challenges of In-Game Advertising," we've got a pretty good cross section of the various ways in which advertisers can get close to video gamers.
This week, Sony finally announced a major online initiative for the PS3, after having it leaked on Kotaku, which was promptly blackballed -- and then unblackballed -- apparently for reporting good news about Sony. The initiative is Playstation Home, a virtual world application in which PS3 owners can create avatars, interact with one another, and customize their own virtual space with trophies earned from gaming achievements.
"Second Life Lite" is how Kaneva, a virtual world currently undergoing closed beta testing, bills itself, and it does a pretty fair job at filling that role: The process of creating an avatar is much simpler than in Second Life, and every user is given his own space in the virtual world to decorate and customize (using pre-created furniture that can be textured with picture uploads). Kaneva also has a social networking platform built around it, so that users in-world can have out-world profiles to connect with.