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Virtual world populations to skyrocket

At 27% growth between now and 2015, children aged 5-9 are the biggest growth sector of a global virtual world population that will grow from 186 million to 640 million by 2015, Virtual Worlds News reports. Citing just-released figures from market researchers Strategy Analytics, the report says “that’s almost 100 million new players a year, a nearly 25% compounded annual growth rate.” The current biggest growth demographic, tweens and teens, is expected to grow 21% in the next six years, and adult virtual world users will just triple. So from now till 2015, the actual numbers given are 5-to-9-year-olds, 50 million to 209.9 million; 10-to-17-year-olds, 125m-395.6m; and adults, 11.5m-32.5m. As for how VWs will make money: microtransactions, largely, which means sales associated with virtual objects such as clothes, furniture, pets, transportation, weapons, armor, spells, real estate – some for VWs simulating RL (real life), some for quests and other aspects of multiplayer online game play. Though some, such as Disney’s Pixie Hollow and Webkinz and Webkinz Jr also have associated real-world objects for sale, e.g. Webkinz stuffed animals (for the latest on that, see this). Virtual Worlds News says microtransactions will account for 86% of all VW revenue, growing from over $1 billion now to $17.3 billion in 2015. Business Week linked to this story here.

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