In part 5 of our "Virtual Worlds" series: Why this new future will heal breaks caused by today's social media
The base of the The classic James Bond film "Tomorrow Never Dies" is an evil media mogul that triggers a war between Britain and China because it is ideal for TV ratings. There has recently been a wake-up call that our most popular social networks are indirectly designed to divide the population into hostile camps and reward sensational content, but without Bond's archenemy, because they are algorithmically controlled.
(This is part five of a seven-part series on virtual worlds.)
The rise of “multiverse” virtual words as the next social frontier offers hope for one of the greatest crises that democratic societies are currently facing. Since the dominant social media platforms (at least in western countries) make money from advertising, these platforms reward sensational content that leads to the most clicks and releases. Simplified, exaggerated claims to shock users are best practices for individuals, media brands, and marketing departments, and social platforms intentionally direct users to more extreme content to keep them engrossed for longer.
Our upcoming cultural shift towards socializing through virtual worlds just as frequently could help us to save this constant conflict of interest between what we recognize as healthy interaction with others and the incentive of these social apps to behave.
Virtual worlds can include advertising, but the predominant monetization strategies in MMOs are pre-game buying and in-game transactions. Any virtual world that finds sufficient acceptance to compete as a social center for mainstream society must be playable free of charge and make more money through in-world transactions than through advertising.