To make it into mainstream use, virtual worlds must seamlessly integrate with the rest of our online lives. These days, we routinely jump between dozens or even hundreds of sites and apps every day, bouncing back and forth between PCs, tablets, phones and smart TV devices. We are almost never solely focused within a single application. Instead, we are completely immersed within a seamless networked web of social networking, messaging and nonstop multi-media consumption. On the PC, we are gravitating away from apps to cloud-based services accessed through a browser. And almost every successful online service and application can be accessed from our mobile devices. So when I think of the virtual world future, I see one that seamlessly integrates with the rest of our pervasively networked lives. This means browser-based and mobile access, with a much more friendly user experience than provided by current virtual world platforms.
Here's a quick little concept video I put together in 2009, imagining a world where our avatar identities become ubiqtuous: