Raph Koster’s Metaplace also goes a similar route: Raph claims that everything in Metaplace will be free, except for virtual currency, which will be his company’s only source of income. Metaplace is also a web-embedded 2.5D virtual world (a 3D version is supposed to be going to be launched “soon”) and targets a slightly elder audience. But the format is similar (i.e., also a web-embedded virtual world), with the difference that it’s quite more open than others: anyone can become a Metaplace developer (contrast that to Google Lively’s “totally closed content” environment; or IMVU and There.com’s “controlled content”).
After Lively, we also got announcements from Vivaty (also a web-embebbed 3D social virtual world, with far better avatars), and Just Leap In. Both are totally competing with Google on the same audience — but with far better graphics, performance, and ease-of-use (the latter is even just Flash, so it works on any platform that supports Firefox). Either is an example of something well done. Alas, none have the Google brand behind them; and none give clues on what their business model is. For me, of course, that’s the crucial point.
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