Pixels and Policy took its knocks a few months ago for reporting on the content creation and ownership system of the new virtual world Blue Mars, but now it's Second Life against the ropes.
As a recent Business Journal article points out, Blue Mars is making some big partnerships in an all-out bid to displace Second Life as the virtual world of choice for individuals and business clients alike.
Take a look below the fold for more on the story.
Blue Mars takes the Smithsonian Online
Blue Mars is enlisting strong allies in its bid to make a mark on the Metaverse, according to an article in the North Bay Business Journal. Chief among the big hitters coming out in support of Blue Mars? The Smithsonian Institution's National Museum:
The current terracotta warrior exhibit at the National Geographic
Museum is now available for interactive viewing on the Blue Mars beta
site, as is the early hominid study at the Smithsonian Museum.
“Education is not our aim but rather entertainment based on real
data and research,” said Mr. Childers. In a virtual interactive lab set
up with a grant from the National Science Foundation, users can put
their own features on an early hominid and watch it in motion.
The Smithsonian is even planning to promote Blue Mars in its physical museums, offering users the chance to have their face mapped onto a Blue Mars avatar. This is priceless marketing for Blue Mars, as well as a bold statement of support on behalf of one of the nation's most prestigious museum organizations.
Second Life hosts the Smithsonian's Latino Virtual Museum, but traffic is dismal and publicity minimal. The Latino Virtual Museum project aimed to involve virtual world users in the interactive exhibits and discussions hosted by Smithsonian. By comparison, Smithsonian is helping Blue Mars by introducing daily crowds of virtual world novices to the platform through a fun and interactive face-mapping exercise.
Once the newly-mapped have their face on one of Blue Mars's beautiful avatars, they'll almost certainly be interested in exploring further. Smithsonian is meeting Blue Mars at better than halfway – and Blue Mars will benefit from their Smithsonian friends far more than Second Life did.
A Lot of Green For Blue Mars?
Blue Mars stands to take away a tidy sum from the Smithsonian partnership if everything goes as planned:
VSE revenues will come from sales of virtual exhibit admission;
rental or purchase of virtual vehicles, such as personal submarines;
leases and sales of virtual property, avatar clothing and accessories;
and other virtual sources as well as the purchase of real items from
online museum gift shops.
If potential users can be persuaded to purchase admission to a photorealistic, interactive virtual museum, Blue Mars could mop up financially. As we noted in our beta test of Blue Mars a few months ago, the world is graphically stunning – a perfect place to host a stalking Tyrannosaurus Rex or a mock-up of ancient Rome in all its former glory.
Blue Mars simply has the graphical capability to take risks that Second Life cannot, including gambling that people will pay to see the pretty pixels.
Predictions related to Blue Mars's growth are promising, and the company has raised enough capital to get serious investors curious. Linking up with heavy hitters like the Smithsonian only increases their likelihood for rapid growth. The Business Journal outlines the future of Blue Mars:
Projections call for 100,000 users on Blue Mars by the year 2010,
growing to 1 million in another year and 6 to 7 million in three years.
If users spend the same amount on Blue Mars that they do on Second
Life, VSE could be generating $900 million within 5 years.
Mr. Childers said the current staff will grow to about 60 or 70
within six months and 200 in a year. The company has the potential to
double its new, 8,000-square-foot studio in San Rafael.
Blue Mars has weathered controversy and criticism and established itself as one of the most anticipated virtual worlds in years. No longer silent, the company's game plan to displace Second Life as a dominant virtual service provider is becoming clear. That plan includes teaming up with former Second Life partners and taking the fight directly to the Lindens.
They might just win.