Now that there is a one billion dollar bubble for virtual worlds, it is time to talk audience share. I don't mean the demographics of who is logged in, but how many people can be persuaded to come early come often.
The nightclub owners have long known that stars are key. From my first professional house gig as a solo performer fronting David Allan Coe to the years in a hotel where bands like the Eagles came after a concert, it is obvious that even the hint of RFPs (Reallllly Famous People) pack a bar better than Britney packs a diaper kit. Nothing brings 'em in like RFPs.
Now that is not new news. The question is one is sustainability.
We love the familiar that has been taken away from us. The lust for the lost love or the lost bicycle is a hackneyed plot device but real nonetheless. So what have we lost that we'd pay to have back? I'd like to see Elizabeth Montgomery but this side of a one-way trip to the funeral home, it ain't happening.
What about.... Sarah Michelle Gellar???
Raise your hands if you want to spend time in the Buffyverse with the original cast. The cast is key. Animating Buffy is a journeyman work given the rights, but getting the original case to reprise their roles as avatars from the comforts of their gated community homes, that would be a draw.
On the other hand, pay them consultant fees for helping with their character construction (it's a bribe; they don't really need to send you more than the photos but they might want to check the AI), then pay them a retainer that guarantees x dollars or rupees for time spent in-zone-in-character, then advertise that the next time you are in there as Angel/Spike/Giles boffing the Buff you might actually be boffing the Hannigan, well, that would bring the geeks in and not just a few of the L gals.
Or you might not? Can you pass the Turing Test? Many can't. But don't worry about it.
It's all entertainment. Entertainment can be an illusion. It just has to have a chance of being real and fantastic. Think of the lottery and you get the idea.
UPDATE: And Multiverse decides to take us up on that. The Buffyverse will live again in the virtual world.