How Lively? Google’s Me-Too Virtual World

The other virtual shoe finally dropped today– after a year and a half of rumors, Google (GOOG) now brings us Lively, a web-driven mini-virtual world. Not a contiguous, immersive, fully user-created metaverse like Second Life, as it turns out– so it’s not really a direct competitor– but a series of virtual world chatrooms more akin to IMVU. (However, IMVU has a virtual economy of user-created content, while Lively does not, least not yet.)

On first glance, Lively seems too similar to several existing (and very large) MMOs, making it an also-ran without a key market distinguisher to be truly compelling (besides being from Google). You can stream YouTube videos in these rooms and embed rooms on websites, and it’s got appealing cartoon visuals and a fairly intuitive interface, but that’s true of numerous online worlds already out there.
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WoW No Longer World’s Biggest MMO?

Based on publicly available data, it looks like an Internet milestone will be passed by the end of next month: World of Warcraft will lose its undisputed status as the most popular massively multiplayer online world. It’s struggling to defend that title as Habbo Hotel, the web-based, social MMO from Finland’s Sulake Corp., is nipping at its heels. Habbo just sent me news that it has logged its 100 millionth registered avatar (pictured at left), and more crucial, that Habbo “attracts close to 10 million monthly visitors to its services worldwide.”

Currently 9.5 million active monthly users, to be exact, compared to Warcraft’s last-reported 10 million subscribers — but at current growth rates, it’s easily within striking range. Read More about WoW No Longer World’s Biggest MMO?

Do Virtual Worlds know the way in San Jose?

[qi:020] First the good news: virtual worlds are experiencing their own dot com boom. Now the bad news: virtual worlds are experiencing their own dot com boom. Tomorrow and Thursday, the second Virtual Worlds Conference and Expo launches in San Jose; the first one went off last March in New York, when just nine worlds/MMOs were showcased. Six months later, thirty of them will be on hand, many you’ve probably never heard of, and if past history is any guide, just as many you’ll probably not hear much about, afterward.
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