|February 13th, 2007|
The whole “media companies are going to invade” thing that i was talking about months ago now seems like old hat. Now Tyra Banks has her own MMO, built on the Doppelganger platform that also powers PCD Lounge.
Of course, like PCD Lounge and other such 3d social-space-only worlds, there doesn’t seem to be a ton of stuff to do. These spaces are frequently disposable, history has shown. This may not matter right now, in what are effectively media world gold rush days, but it will take on increasing importance as time goes on. What’s the Tyra feature list? Dance, wear clothes, listen to music, and chat. In other (marketing-speak) words, there’s no USP — nothing that makes it functionally different, really, from the other worlds that offer the same Indeed, as csven says over at ReBang,
Not only the same developer, but obviously Doppelganger was using the same client code they were using for the PCD Lounge. No surprise; it’s more efficient. Besides, this is what I expected based on some early thoughts about how they might use their platform to create outpost “sims”; kind of like islands in Second Life. While I don’t expect the Doppelganger projects to allow teleporting from one to another at this point, that’s what I’ve assumed they might do… and I still expect that’s on their “To Do” list. Anyway, the likelihood of that assumption – that these stand alone sims might be connected – increased when I tried to create a new account. Turns out that Tyra’s Virtual Studio uses my PCD Lounge account login. That will certainly make connecting outposts easier to do down the road. There’s only one thing: the PCD Lounge and Tyra’s Lounge look the same so why bother?
It’s somewhat ironic that it’s media companies, which make their living entertaining people, that are missing this point. All these worlds might as well be themed rooms in a larger chat space. But in general, chat spaces have a long history of devolving into niches; without regular influxes of content, activities, and so on, they tend to shed users who grow bored. Watercoolers are no fun unless there’s a new show to talk about.
As that Hollywood Reporter article says,
Gartner research vp Mike McGuire questions whether virtual worlds really have anything distinctive to offer media companies. “Are they bringing something truly differentiating, or are they just putting something in a 3-D wrapper?” he says. “I don’t think they will help grow the audience. It will take creative thinking on the (part of the) media companies to make sure they’re not part of scenery.”
These days, it’s far easier for kids to replicate the scenery of their favorite media than it is to go to the media-themed space. It doesn’t matter how popular the show or music is, kids can always just rip some tunes, grab some Googled images, and throw up a MySpace rather than go to the hassle of downloading a custom client and logging into a static space they cannot modify. In a lot of ways, it’s more important that it be theirs that it matters whether it’s about Justin Timberlake.
This echoes discussions that we’ve long had in the community management field about the value of having a billion fansites out there. There’s many virtues to having an official forum (and I have written about them before), but there’s also a lot to be said for encouraging a diverse ecosystem of sites. More Google hits for your brand, for one.
From a more mathematical perspective, it also helps create a large scale-free network. One of the traits of these networks is that they are next to impossible to kill. In other words, not only lots of Google hits, but Google hits forever, rather than fading away.
It seems logical that for media companies, the right move is to have the same diversity of fan-made virtual spaces as they have for fan-made webpages. None of the platforms right now are oriented around this, of course — and frankly, neither are the media companies, which are likely still thinking in terms of centralized control of their IP. But the real power of IP these days is in letting it out, not holding it in: far better to have twenty or a hundred takes on Tyra Banks’ show out there than just one. In a world of constant media yammering, ubiquity is key.