There.com say goodbye and shut down, while Oracle after the acquisition of Sun decided not to devote additional resources to the Project Wonderland (http://projectwonderland.com), which by the way is trying to stay alive as an autonomous entity with a core of its developers who believe in the possibility of developing an open source project and is now looking for new supporters, corporates or non-profit organizations.
Definitely a difficult late winter for virtual worlds, following the announcement that There.com will close March 9. “Unlike other products – said in a statement the founder and Ceo of There.com, Michael Wilson – There.com was designed as a place can be welcoming and comfortable for everyone, not just gamers, not just people over 18, not just people with high end computers, and not just people on broadband“.
And if today many of these characteristics are common, as well as the attention so that user-generated content does not infringe the copyright trademark or contents generated by other users, in 2003 were unique enough to make There.com the first place to put it all together in one package.
Killing There.com was in some measure, for Wilsom, its success: after attracting over the years millions of people and RL companies as Coca-Cola, CosmoGirl, Bebe, K-SWISS and SPIN, There.com has suffered more and worse than other virtual worlds like Second Life the effects of the recession in which has fallen the U.S. economy and more generally the world economy in these last two years.
Faced with a decline in revenues despite the continued increase in subscribers, the response of There.com has been the introduction of a range of new features and interfaces, improving the level of services offered, the steady improvement in the level of “first experience” trying to retain a greater number of users as possible (the abandonment by most users who try to come once in a metaverse is a common trouble for all virtual worlds).
But ultimately “not we were able to cure the recession” and at some point the developer (Makena Technologies) had to “stop writing checks to keep the world open. There’s nothing more we would like to avoid this, but There is a business, and a business that can’t support itself doesn’t work”.
So from March 9 There.com off the lights and will no longer online. Mors tua, vita mea: in the internet are already making predictions about where the Thereins will migrate to, but the answer is not as obvious as the virtual world created by Michael Wilson had enough unique features to date and not fully comparable to the various Second Life, Imvu, Frenzoo, Blue Mars, WoW or others MMORPG/MMO.
Of course in addition to Linden Lab are hoping to be able to “intercept” part of the flows (if there ever will be) the developers of Project Wonderland, who decided to continue developing and seeking new donors after Oracle announced it would not invest more money and have layed them off, putting a de facto jeopardized its survival.
Nicole Yankelovich, project team leader until the laying off by Oracle, tries to be optimistic and explains on the official blog of Wonderland (moved on http://blogs.projectwonderland.com because of Sun-Oracle blogs are open only to employees) said: “To our knowledge, there are currently three companies offering Wonderland-related products, and eight companies offering Wonderland world-building services. There are countless exciting university projects and a number of corporations that have seen the advantages of Wonderland over other platforms” and people continue to post on the forum site every day.
Nevertheless, Wonderland seems to lack a set of features compared to Second Life or OpenSim (for example, you can import and edit items, but can not create them by scratch within Wonderland at the moment), while for some developers on good terms with Sun and Oracle may be difficult to devote many resources to an open source project. The crisis, in short, seems to favor Linden Lab: that this can also be useful for SL users remains to be seen.