Monday, 22 February 2010

Making Money out of Virtual Worlds

Virtual Worlds with an inworld economy, and an inworld currency that can be converted in and out of real world dollars, such as Second Life,  have proved very popular with their residents, as they allow the budding entrepreneur to make a modest real life income, and in a few cases quite a substantial income, from the leasing of virtual land, and the creation and selling of virtual goods, textures, animations, and scripts, etc.  Even more opportunities are on the horizon with newer, more exciting worlds, such as Blue Mars, due to come online later in 2010.

Some people have taken the OpenSim platform and used it to create their own commercial Virtual World, such as OpenLife, Meta7, and Inworldz, etc, and are able to compete strongly on price for virtual land with Second Life. Others have taken to designing and creating regions for corporate customers within an existing Virtual World, or use OpenSim to create a ring-fenced solution.

Virtual World Contracts
In addition to the above there also exists even more lucrative opportunities. Various institutions, larger corporations, local government and national government departments and the military have started issuing RFQs and RFPs (Requests for Quotations/Proposals) for Virtual World solutions.

Here are some examples of such RFQs and RFPs, issued over the last 18 months:

NATO, HQ Supreme Allied Commander Transformation
RFP-ACT-SACT-010-09, Aug 06, 2009
Allied Command Transformation is investigating technologies that could be used to augment or replace existing technologies for education and training of NATO staff. One of the investigative streams is in virtual worlds. This statement of work seeks contractor support for building and maintaining a virtual world to carry out this investigation.

US Department of the Air Force

Office: Air Education and Training Command
FA3002-08-R-004, Sep 03, 2008
The AETC Contracting Squadron at Randolph AFB intends to award a contract for the purchase of 3D on-line environment software (including all necessary plug-ins to field Mybase) and user training as described in the Statement of Need (SON). 

Department of Agriculture
Office: Office of Procurement and Property Management

AG-3142-S-10-0012, Nov 25, 2009
The U.S. Department of Agriculture's Office of the Chief Information Officer (USDA OCIO) plans to issue a solicitation to procure virtual world (VW) software technology. While there are Government organizations currently utilizing virtual worlds (VW) technology, significant challenges remain related to cross-agency accessibility, security, scalability, and interoperability.

For virtual worlds to be a viable option for widespread government use, the Government is seeking offerors who can demonstrate that the virtual worlds solution(s) can satisfactorily resolve these and other cross-agency issues. 

Alliance Library System
Request for Qualifications,
May 6, 2009
Project Coordinator for HIV/Aids Project (Karuna)

The Alliance Library System is requesting RFQs from qualified firms or individuals with Masters of Library Science Degrees, experience with medical/consumer health information, an up-to-date awareness of consumer health resources, and experience in the virtual world of Second Life managing events and creating displays to coordinate the HIV/AIDS Grant Project (Karuna).

Many more opportunities exist, from the use of Virtual Worlds for simulators, for training and educational puposes, for virtual meeting venues for companies wishing to reduce their travel budget and their carbon footprint, and various other uses.

How do you find these opportunities? Well, Google is your friend. I use the Advanced Search option, and set the fields as follows:

All these words: Virtual
One or More of these Words: RFQ OR RFP OR quotation  OR proposal
Date, usage rights, numeric range, and more: Date - set to past week or past month, and check weekly/monthly as required

Good luck