Christian Renaud, Chief Architect of Networked Virtual Environments for the Cisco Technology Center will be launching a new virtual worlds tracking organization called the Metaverse Market Index (MMI) at Virtual Worlds Fall next week.
MMI will be established as a not-for-profit organization that will define and track metrics across multiple virtual worlds.
The problem is simple; there is little or no reliable and comparable data about user engagement and economic activity in virtual worlds, which makes it difficult for businesses to select the worlds in which they should invest their time and money.
MMI is founded by Nick Wilson of Metaversed.com and Robert Bloomfield of Cornell University, and will team with advisors and sponsors from industry and academia to construct a database of statistics on each platform’s user activity, economy, and technology. MMI is hoping that their work will foster informed investment in online worlds, “while also allowing developers to identify opportunities for rapid convergence toward common technologies that will allow portability across platforms.”
Data gathering will focus on three main areas: User Engagement will measure key indicators of how successfully businesses can reach customers and business partners, Economy will be a set of measures intended to capture economic activity in each world, and Technology will be focused on developing a list of key technological attributes of virtual worlds with an eye towards allowing developers to identify standards and interoperability opportunities.
MMI first step is to incorporate and work with advisors towards identifying key statistics. January 2008 will see tools development based on the initial key statistical areas, followed later by publication of the standards and data gathering.
It’s an interesting setup, and an inclusive way of building a solid foundation of usable data for businesses currently dealing with/ in virtual worlds, of those looking to do so. The setup is not unlike the Motion Picture Association of America, in that the enabling body is virtual world and corporate agnostic and in theory will undertake its activities for the good of all involved. I’ll be watching with interest the data they start publishing next year.