22 Oct 2008

Custom virtual worlds and MMOs

Posted by jofr

Tracking VC funding deals is a way to determine what’s considered hot in a given market. VC firms try to predict where they can make profits and start investing when the market starts showing real promise for major profits in 4-7 years. Recently, venture capital funding for social games, virtual worlds, casual MMO and casual games increased considerably, in Europe and the world.

An example is Metaplace, a startup that allows users to craft their own custom virtual worlds, see the screenshot above. It raised $6.7 Million VC capital lately. The combination of UGC and virtual worlds is especially interesting.

The problem with many virtual worlds is: they seem to be dead and pointless, and people have nothing to do. Well-known exceptions are: World of Warcraft, where you kill monsters, and Second Life, which is about porn, cybersex and money. Other worlds offer only the option to talk to people – and that’s too little to attract a lot of people permanently. Google’s Lively and Twinity will have to solve this problem if they want to be successful. We don’t need another pointless virtual world that wants you to have a virtual representation of yourself and the people around you.

New, strange, and foreign worlds would be interesting – if they are complex and exciting enough. UGC seems to be a useful way to create complex virtual worlds. Another problem is technology and raw speed: as I tried Just Leap In, my Laptop nearly stopped working. It is not easy to build a fast MMO with complex content. MMOs and MMORPGs are interesting in general because they require a sophisticated large scale server architecture with the latest technologies.

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