Virtual worlds have had a rocky time in the marketplace. Focusing on user-generated content, it takes a while for enough users to become active and enough market traction to be established for them to start becoming financially viable. Earlier this year marked the shutdown of Metaplace, Raph Koster's entry into the field of virtual worlds. Now another long-running part of the field is closing down, as There.com has just announced the service will be closing on March 9th.
A retrospective on the game's history is available on CNET, discussing the world's status as being a competitor for Second Life without ever quite gaining the traction that its bigger cousin managed. While the environment was seen as slightly more kid-and-media friendly due to restrictions on adult-only content, the project had a difficult time turning a profit. After seven years, it's finally overwhelmed the company.
The official announcement includes a number of resources for those who have invested money in There.com to regain it prior to the shutdown, with extensive buyback programs and refunds available for all participants. Our condolences to the team on this sad turn of events.