Via Raph Koster's website, news of the launch of a most unusual virtual world: Chipuya Town. Developed by the Media Groove company, it's an online space aimed at Japanese teenagers addicted to their cell phones.

Users create a custom avatar, then step into a cute-ified version of Tokyo's Shibuya shopping district that's accurate right down to the advertising overload. (Companies pay up to $4,000 a month for ads on in-world billboards.) Players socialize with other avatars and rack up currency - called Grooves - by recruiting friends, going on treasure hunts, and attending sponsored events.

The launch comes after a summer-long beta period, which was as much about attracting advertisers as it was users. The mobile site Infinita has a better look at the minimal gameplay on offer in the product, as well as its positioning in the marketplace. The site believes that Media Groove is positioning the VW as a direct competitor to the mobagetown offering.

While Chipuya Town doesn't feature mobile games (as opposed to mobagetown), it does seem to have a more advanced virtual economy, and to be taking a cross-platform approach: In an Second Life-inspired take, users can use a free PC-based Flash application to actually create avatar items such as clothes and avatar home accessories themselves, that they can then use for own their own avatars or sell to others.

This article was originally published on Massively.