KZero, a British analytics company that specializes in the virtual worlds and virtual goods market. Virtual worlds are those online communities where people operate avatars in a computer simulated environment, such as Second Life and Blue Mars.The number of users registered for virtual world sites broke the 1 billion mark during the third quarter of this year. That's the finding of
That's an increase of 51 million from Q2 of 2010 and a 350 million increase from this time last year.
More telling perhaps than just this record-breaking number is the demographic where this is occurring: 468 million virtual world registered users are between the ages of 10 and 15, an increase of 24 million from the second quarter of the year.
The second largest group is 15 to 25 year olds, which increased by 15 million to hit 288 million accounts. Although the number of people over the age of 25 participating in virtual worlds isn't increasing at this same rapid rate, the numbers have still almost doubled since 2009.
The most popular virtual world for those under 15 is Stardoll with 69 million registered users. But the largest is Habbo, with over 175 million accounts. KZero identifies the 15 to 25 age bracket as "the one to watch" over the next year, as "With an active user base as large as Habbo's it's the perfect testing ground for emerging initiatives such as branded virtual goods, simulcasting/real-event integration and product extension."
Of course the number of registered users doesn't mean the number of active accounts. But the increase in the registrations still points to a rather phenomenal market penetration, something likely to grow as more of these worlds become available via mobile.