First I would like to say that, there is only one life. Virtual worlds are not real life substitutes. One can play, create, socialize, make money, network etc through a few virtual worlds, but that is not going to fulfill or replace the real life that we have.
There are a lot of virtual world environment today. Some are very sophisticated and you can truly unleash your creativity in them. Some are limited, where one can just role-play or make friends. Most of these virtual worlds need a downloadable client to work with and few virtual worlds can be played on our regular web browser after installing the required plug-in. Google too had its own experimental virtual world lively which ended on 31st December 2008.
Till today we didn’t have a virtual world that was entirely targeted on Indian users. Now, Godrej has introduced GoJiyo, a virtual world that targets Indian users. And they have used the right time to advertise it on television during IPL (Indian Premier league). While every other company is getting into social media to interact with their customers, prospective customers and clients. Godrej has introduced GoJiyo, their own social networking platform in the form of virtual world, to connect with their customers and prospective customers.
Now coming back to India and virtual world, it is not something new to Indian users. Though there has not been a virtual world that was targeted specifically on Indian users, the presence of Indian users on other platforms has always been strong. I have already covered it on Get a Life! Wipro started its in-world campus in Second Life. And a year ago, TATA Indicom entered Second Life to market their product and announced a Talent Hunt which till today I am not sure if it was for Second Life residents or for Indian youths.
After being in various virtual worlds for quite sometime I can clearly say that marketing real life products on virtual world is not a cake walk. Money can be made through certain virtual worlds, and certain real life products can be marketed, but its always good to keep in mind that the target audience is always a small percentage. The main reason for this is cultural gap. Yes, there is a cultural gap between a virtual world user and a marketer who do not understand the mindset of a player inside. People use virtual worlds for various purposes, some login to relax, create, play, socialize etc. You can advertise a product in a theme park, but cannot expect to cover huge audience as the mood of most of them who visit a theme park is to relax and play and not to see some random sales man thrusting pamphlets on their face.
GoJiyo is exclusively created to market Godrej products by Godrej. So people who register in it would not be surprised to see Godrej products inside. You will be disappointed only if you totally believe in their magical advertisement. GoJiyo is still in beta stage so to expect advanced features in it is not fair. The avatar management and navigation and the virtual space in it are still in scratch. I like the Animation Override that the avatars have on default. Its pretty cool. But certain movements do remind me of Second Life. And it takes quite sometime to load it initially. Also one has to install a third party plug-in in their web browser to access GoJiyo. Which I am not in favor of. I mostly prefer a full fledged client to access a virtual environment.
I am not sure if it would attract users who already are in advanced virtual environment, but it would surely attract a few new users who would like to try it out. And it is very important to note that the interface is user friendly and the waiting time is less.