Having Reached Profitability, Virtual World Meez Begins MySpace Expansion

Meez is an online virtual world that’s become a sort of mainstream-style hangout for teens. Now it’s planning a new virtual world app for MySpace, due out later this week. From the early look we saw, it includes messaging, virtual rooms and other features to get MySpace users interacting. And, if a MySpace user sees a friend with Meez, and wants to create their own avatar, they can do so by going over to the Meez home site to buy virtual clothes.

Which fits in nicely with the business Meez has going. The site isn’t huge, but it has focused on getting profitable — and that has been happening since April, through a combination of ads, a subscription service and virtual goods. So now it has a technology and business platform to expand from.

Meez has 13 million total registered users, of whom 3 million are active every month, with the average person spending an hour on the site per visit. Around 600,000 users are on the site far more than that. Besides chatting, the site lets users do things like watch videos from YouTube and Hulu, and listen — and make their avatars dance — to music. Its home site, “Meez Nation,” includes neighborhoods and other places to hang out in public, as well as “roomz” that users can create and decorate.

Why MySpace? The average age of a Meez user is 17, with a range from 13 to 30, two-thirds are female, and 90 percent are in the US. These numbers help explain why MySpace — not Facebook — is the most popular site with users after Meez itself. Both skews young, American, and are focused on pop-culture entertainment. Around 40 percent of Meez users surveyed by the company said they had a MySpace profile, while only 19 percent said they had a Facebook profile.

Also, how is Meez more mainstream than some virtual worlds? It doesn’t emphasize sexually charged or bizarre avatars, but rather more typical hip-hop, goth, or otherwise fairly normal teen trends. Users requested avatars from the company, for example, that were more “full-figured” than what it originally offered, Meez chairman Sean Ryan tells us.

So, while many social gaming and virtual worlds companies look more closely at Facebook, we’re very interested to see how the MySpace focus works out. MySpace itself has been losing users, but it still has some 60 million monthly actives in the US, and the News Corp.-owned company is trying to make itself more of an entertainment destination. That effort is still underway, but Meez’s product seems like a good fit.

To dig deeper into the virtual goods market, check out our new report: Inside Virtual Goods: The US Virtual Goods Market 2009 – 2010.



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