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Marketplace traction with the UGC model and the closure of Metaplace

Tateru Nino

As you read last night, the UGC (user-generated-content) virtual environment side of Metaplace is shuttering on New Year's Day, 2010, just a scant couple of weeks away.

"The reason?" says company president Koster. "Well, it just hasn't gotten traction."

Nor should it have at this stage, really. Metaplace only went into open beta in May this year, meaning that it is closing before it really launched. We believe that is several years too soon for traction with its (now canceled) model.

The 800 pound gorilla in the UGC virtual environment space at the moment, of course, is Second Life, which took four years from open-beta to break-even.

There's absolutely nothing fundamentally wrong with Metaplace. It's just that we wouldn't expect a new virtual environment based around a similar model to gain enough traction to hit the break-even mark in less than five years of post-beta operation. It just seems unrealistic.

We didn't expect that from Lively or Metaplace, and we don't really expect it from Blue Mars, either. Content takes time to develop, particularly from user-contributors, and communities – the key to success in the space – don't spring up fully-formed and in sufficient numbers.

We see it as one of those "go big or go home" scenarios. If your model revolves around UGC, you need to be prepared to dig in for the long haul.

Metaplace is nifty and we like it. However, communities and user-generated content do not and likely won't ever run according to a schedule.

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