This morning my wife and business partner Nastassia mentioned something while we were enjoying our morning coffee ritual. Capital One Bank has moved into Cityville. Yes, she plays the Zynga game Cityville on Facebook along with hundreds of millions of others, most of whom are over the age of thirty.
Ever since the initial popularity of virtual worlds like World of Warcraft, The Sims and Second Life I have anticipated that virtual goods will replace, or at least enhance, the public’s interest in designer goods in the real world. Until these Facebook games took the world by storm, the idea of virtual gaming was only for the geeky. The folks who enveloped themselves in a world of fictional characters and rode dragons. But not anymore. Now, people are growing farms, raising families, fighting mafia wars and playing poker with friends near and far. And it’s as effortless as checking their email. But twice as fun. The way Cityville works, as you may figure, the player creates a working town and maintains it and builds it while their friends get points/credits for participating. Participating can be as simple as visiting and as complicated as directing a tour bus from your town to theirs to direct revenue to your friend’s city.
Until recently, each establishment in your city would require you to choose a name for it. For example, she added a coffee shop and called it RobBucks in honor of her Starbucks enthusiast husband. No trademarks, just make-believe business names. Last month she told me that Best Buy had moved into town and I, being a Best Buy enthusiast as well, got a little giddy. These items are currently free but there are tons of items within the game that cost money. It may cost a measly dollar to repair your car, or put on nice rims. Perhaps an extra five dollars to buy more land. Soon, we will be paying for Nike sneakers, Budweiser t-shirts and MacBooks. Don’t scoff at this. The Chinese market alone for these types of ‘microtransactions’ has eclipsed the $10 Billion mark and the USA is right behind.
I predict that these virtual establishments will soon lead to real online shopping outlets offering both physical and virtual goods creating revenue streams previously unimaginable. These games will soon be creating tens of billions of dollars of advertising and sales revenue for legitimate brands. Folks, this world is about to explode and we’re in the middle of it. If you are a trademark geek like I am, get excited. This is our industrial revolution.
Trademark departments… Start your engines!