The question as to the strategic economic direction of SL certainly remains open. Something has already been said about scale/design-once-and-mass-produce, the amusement/hobby motive, the discrepancy between in-world currency and RL forex, and meta-world technological/infrastructural commerce. The crux of the matter obviously lies in creating value in-world which would translate to RL monetary value.
Apparently the current dynamics of SL in no way justify valuation of in-world artifacts remotely resembling that in virtual (gaming) worlds such as World of Warcraft. There the established homogeneous culture of the gamer target group seems to transfer value naturally to the RL (black) market. To achieve something similar the diffuse package which is SL would likely have to be strategically differentiated and reintegrated. This would mean highlighting select selling points to meet diversified market demands.
- gaming sims could strive for interoperability/interchangeability with trend-setting, dedicated virtual platforms and/or create new experiences
- sims modeling RL geographical locations or history could be made RL-mappable within a (mobile) mixed-reality (tourism/role-playing) concept
- RL sports/recreation could be mapped onto SL à la Wii to augment training and enjoyment
- sims providing virtual showrooms for development technologies could act as in-world, end user-friendly Rapid Development Environments
Critical would be leveraging the generic and flexible characteristics of the SL platform to unity the offerings within a seamless user experience tantamount to a one-stop-portal-to-the-Metaverse...