Inside money, markets, and Big Tech

This article was published on February 22, 2008


    Escape to a virtual world wherever and whenever you want

    Escape to a virtual world wherever and whenever you want
    Ernst-Jan Pfauth
    Story by

    Ernst-Jan Pfauth

    Ernst-Jan Pfauth is the former Editor in Chief of Internet at NRC Handelsblad, as well as an acclaimed technology author and columnist. He a Ernst-Jan Pfauth is the former Editor in Chief of Internet at NRC Handelsblad, as well as an acclaimed technology author and columnist. He also served as The Next Web’s blog’s first blogger and Editor in Chief, back in 2008. At De Correspondent, Ernst-Jan serves as publisher, fostering the expansion of the platform.

    Virtual worlds are big business. They’re here for 13 years now and will only get more realistic, sensational and more intense. A timeline of virtual worlds, ripped from a Dutch presentation, shows the developments of the last decade:

    virtualworlds

    Now there’s a new chapter: a virtual world on your mobile phone. In December 2007, the Finnish company Sulake launched a miniature virtual world that works on Nokia Series 60 phones. The new world is called MiniFriday. The makers are trying to find out if real-time virtual worlds make sense on mobile devices and consider MiniFriday to be a ‘research project’.

    Well, this research project has enjoyed quite a nice viral boost after the launch with already 300.000 registered users. Next Web WebTipr Timo Paloheimo told me that besides the Nordic countries many of the users come from Russia and Indonesia.

    The success of MiniFriday doesn’t surprise me though, since Sulake is also the company behind Habbo. The ‘hangout for teens’ that allegedly generates a huge amount of cash by selling virtual objects. It operates in 31 markets globally and has sustained up to 100,000 users concurrently, said Habbo lead designer Sulka Haro at the 2008 Worlds in Motion Summit.

    Critics of virtual worlds often say that people who ‘live’ in virtual worlds are actually just running away from daily reality. If this were true, those virtual citizens can now escape to their second life wherever and whenever they want. The question is whether the less-complex world of MiniFriday is captive enough. Is ordering beers and having short chats enough to get people hooked up? Judge for yourself:

    [WebTipr: Timo Paloheimo, Finland]