Virtual Worlds

Stephen Yagielowicz
Recently, XBIZ World Magazine asked several industry players "Do you see virtual worlds like Second Life as competition for adult websites or as complementary entities where adult companies can advertise and sell products?"

Here's what they had to say:

I don't know much about Second Life, but fantasy is fantasy, and there is a huge market for sex fantasies. I think this year we will lose about 50 percent of the studios, so there will be room for more competition. I think star power and quality will continue to propel adult features. Do "Temptation Island" or "Survivor" — reality shows — compete with "House" and "CSI"? I think there is room in the market to easily absorb both with a lot of room for profit.

— Adella O'Neal, Director of Marketing, Digital Playground

Anything that gets users online and away from their TV sets benefits online companies, including adult companies. The key is setting up an atmosphere where people desire entertainment that is interactive. Television is a passive medium. Virtual worlds like Second Life bring consumers online. I don't really see how this can hurt adult companies. If users are going online for sites like Second Life, it stands to reason they will stay online longer and be motivated to visit adult domains. The concept of a virtual world is also predicated on the use of imagination and the absence of the live-girl concept, something integral to Video Secrets business model. Computer generated fictional interactivity — what Second Life consists of — does not remotely compare to interacting with a beautiful live model. The two concepts "virtual worlds" and "live adult chat" really don't compete. Instead, they work together to lure users away from engaging in passive entertainment and towards interactive and engaging content in the online world.

— Brad Estes, Manager of Operations, Video Secrets

I'm a firm believer in virtual worlds. I think they're only in their early stages, but their evolution in terms of importance is about to explode. Virtual worlds are a great complementary environment where adult companies can advertise and sell their products. We already see several virtual worlds working very closely with adult companies, advertising their services and products. I know that new features are being developed as we speak to offer new and interesting services to the avatars so users will stay longer in the virtual world and spend more money on the advertised companies' services. I think in the near future we'll see much more cooperation between companies that design virtual worlds and big adult entities.

— Yuval Kijel, Special Product Consultant,

Currently, Second Life and other virtual worlds can be considered, at best, a novelty. That is not to say these interactive mediums should be overlooked. With steady improvements to supporting technology, increasing speed of Internet connections and an ever-expanding user base, companies within this market segment will improve delivery of such services alongside their current marketing strategies. It is important to classify virtual worlds as a complementary aspect and incorporate this with campaigns and sites as opposed to competition. We are no longer dealing with a generation of users that grew up with Pong or whose thought of high-speed Internet is a 56k modem and any mention of a virtual world conjures images from the "Lawnmower Man." The demands of the next generation of users exceeds flat applications with no dimension and little to no user-to-user, or user-to-site interaction, as illustrated by the current demand for sites to adopt a Web 2.0 mindset. Are virtual worlds the answer that those users will be looking for? I don't know. All I know is that I, for one, am not about to close my own Second Life account.

— Platinum Paul, Director of Business Development,