China readies for virtual world onslaught

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Writing for Ogilvy China’s blog, Kaiser Kuo has posed the question, “Will virtual worlds take off in China?”

The answer is a resounding “Yes”, according to Sam Flemming of Shanghai-based CIC Data. Sam is quoted in an article in Asia Times Online as saying that 3D worlds will have a healthy future in China.

The writer of the Asia Times article, Daniel Allen, has provided some cogent argument backing up this view. Firstly, the Cyworld China community is growing at a rate of 15,000 subscribers a day and has reached 3 million since its launch in June 2005. This points to an acceptance in China for a business model that includes the sale of virtual items. Secondly, the QQ instant messaging service has reached half a billion registered users – an audience that is primed for forming deeper connections via immersive environments.

It seems there is no shortage of immersive environments targeting this market, either. HiPiHi, which has been called a Second Life clone, is the most widely known of these, but others coming into the market include Shanda, UOneNet and Entropia.

Perhaps not at onslaught level quiet yet, but certainly a space to watch.

[Photo courtesy of Trey Ratcliff – stuckincustoms.com]

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