Business in Virtual Worlds, Virtual World Platforms, Visualization in 3D

Blue Mars Virtual World: Forget User-Generated Content

Concept artist and futurist Syd Mead is bringing his vision to the forthcoming Blue Mars virtual world, promising a city in which “visitors…will experience the future of entertainment, social networking, commerce and education. Retail shopping centers, entertainment venues, museums and more will give visionary entrepreneurs the best commercial opportunities of the 22nd century.”

Perhaps alone among the major virtual world developments, Blue Mars is tacking away from small worlds, browser-based, 2.5D and all the other answers to the ‘download problem’. In fact, they’ve admitted that their virtual world platform is aimed at computer specs several years in the future rather than several years back.

I saw the platform at this year’s virtual world conference in New York. And it’s stunning. As much as user-generated content can be astonishing, Blue Mars has decided to populate their grid through third-party partnerships with high end content developers:

“Avatar Reality’s Third Party Developer Program gives game developers, CG artists and interested business partners an opportunity to create a variety of in-world attractions, 3D art assets and promotions for Blue Mars. “

When I wrote about them previously, I commented:

But I’m a big believer in two things: stuff is engaging not because of how it looks, although that can be the thing that gets you in the door; and the more “real” stuff looks the easier it is for the human mind to spot the stuff that looks off. Verisimilitude was the Holy Grail of the virtual reality days - and as game world proved, virtual doesn’t need to feel like reality to have a really high level of engagement and impact on the user.

Now? I’m not so sure.

One thing that the concept has going for it is that it’s a differentiator. For brands, the knowledge that the site for their products will be richly detailed and realistic, and that the products themselves could easily look ‘better than the real thing’ can have appeal.

At the NYC conference I remember them showing a highly detailed purse, and while I’ve never been in the purse market, I could imagine it being snapped up by avatars like the latest skin.

Is there a role for a virtual world platform that goes in the opposite direction of cartoon rooms and game-derived avatars? It’s all about the shopping and socializing. They may suck up the early adoption curve because of the technology requirements, but if they can keep people for the shopping and the socializing they may be on to something.


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