That’s how many people are currently paying $15 per month to belong to ‘The World of War craft’ the startlingly successful Vivendi global gaming site that has made others in the on line industry think hard about the future.

The subscription pays for access to an imaginary virtual world that is dungeons and dragons type gaming on a scale that people didn’t believe in. It has proved for once and for all that people will pay for content, or so claim those in that area of online business. I am not so sure; I think it shows that people will pay to belong to communities of shared interests, if there is enough interesting interaction to make it worth while. The most striking thing about ‘The World of War craft’ is how it has overlapped into the physical world with local ‘guilds’ who actually meet, physically!
Its also been a marketing theme with Coca-Cola who put the figures on 600 million cans and added merchandising for hats, t-shirts and board games, to quote the comment at the time; ‘the elves may not be real, but the money certainly is’. Real money is going to other places too. In China it has been estimated some 500,000 people are working in ‘gaming’ sweatshops to develop and sell supporting aspects to richer but may be more time pressed gamers. On a popular website the going price for a ‘level 60 elf – fully equipped with great gear, skills and a 100 pieces of gold’ is $250 to $300.
It takes an estimated 3 days to power a newly created elf up to level 20, to go as high as level 60 takes a skilled player many weeks work. It is all strangely related to the manufacture in China of real highly detailed figurines for use in traditional style ‘war gaming’ meetings. This leads back to the strange cross over that is happening between tow groups who basically share very similar interests.
Are these all nerds? Not according to those who play who see many different classes of people who see this as a relaxation hobby. It seems just to be a natural evolution for traditional gamers to get a more exciting and interactive version of their existing war games.
A similar crossover is now happening in the music industry, the traditional communities that have collected older or more specialised vinyl records are becoming meshed with new communities using i-Tunes or similar. Once again the interests and aims are the same, but both sides find something to gain out of joining up.
So what’s my point?? Quite simple; in the everyday world the division of the population into ‘online nerds’ and ‘everyday people’ is crumbling, both are learning from each other to mutual gain of everyone, and of course they find their interests to be the same!
Business is, and will go the same way; business managers are increasingly technology savvy enough to make their own decisions, and guess what they seem to map to what the technologies think. The two examples I have given are just a proving point to this happening!