Blue Mars Developer Partners with the Smithsonian Institution

6a0120a51c39be970b0120a5c93252970c-800wi 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.

15 thoughts on “Blue Mars Developer Partners with the Smithsonian Institution”

  1. Virtual worlds will come, and worlds will go, but this is a bit like saying that Subaru partnered up with a Pacific Northwest ski resort to cross promote each other, so surely all the other ski resorts in the country are up against the ropes.
    Sorry, one does not follow the other. I don’t see that there’s any causal relationship. No one predicts the death of blue mars when someone does some new business initiative in Second Life (and yes, they still pop up in the news from time to time).

  2. Let’s see… as usual, your headlines are alarmist, Henny Penny tripe designed to make white livered yellow bellied sniveling idiots out of your readers.
    Second Life is not in trouble, at least not because of this, and AS USUAL, you’ve got your story all wrong. And you claim to do investigative reporting! What you are doing is reporting on another article that is poorly written and researched without the benefit of verification or any real research on your part. Had you devoted one minute of hardship to Googling you would have learned that VSE is a City developer on Blue Mars and that it is VSE that is developing a Smithsonian-specific location. This is not new news, by the way. Had you troubled yourself to watch this video, produced by VSE, you would have learned as much back when they published it… June, 2006:
    Please report responsibly. Until then, I’ll withhold my respect.

  3. Bettina —
    Sorry the article didnt appeal to you! The referenced article sources
    a direct interview with VSE, as well as word from the Smithsonian.
    Thanks for your comment, though!

  4. Have you BEEN to Blue Mars? 100,000 residents by 2010? It’s EMPTY! I have logged in several times and I think had one two minute conversation which ended in, “Let’s go back to SecondLife”

  5. Do you really think there are not enough people for both worlds to coexist and possibility interact?
    Why do people think there must be one virtual world to rule them all.
    This is like all those people who name some random MMO a “WoW” killer. Like the only reason the MMO was created was to kill off World of Warcraft. It’s simply silly.

  6. Every time I read one of these silly “reports” regarding the failings and/or demise of Second Life® my immediate thought is, “Aww. I wonder what personal (probably censorable) drama THIS one had in SL® to make him/her so bitter towards it?” Really the “Die, Linden Lab!” bent to a lot of this type of post is sad.
    On the subject of Blue Mars®, while I hope that they succeed famously (competition is a good and stimulating thing), I have been there. Have you? See that lovely hillside covered with buildings? …
    REFRAIN: You can’t GO THERE. It’s a FAKE BACKDROP to the small useable foreground. In Second Life you CAN. All of that distant intriguing content is USEABLE.
    [And for those of you not familiar with Second Life content, please click my name above and have a look for yourself.]
    See that beautiful forest in the distance?
    See those futuristic buildings towering into the sky?
    Etc., etc. I could go on, but I’m too busy laughing at your comment “one of Blue Mars’s beautiful avatars.” LOL!!! You *must* be joking. They are horrid!
    This could have been an interesting piece if you had just reported the simple fact that The Smithsonian and Blue Mars are collaborating; however, using it to jump at the opportunity to snipe SL for no valid reason destroys your credibility.
    Apples. Oranges. Invalid.

  7. Caliburn —
    Thanks for the comment. I definitely have no vendetta against Second
    Life – Ive reported on the good and bad from both platforms, as well
    as about three dozen other topics. Sorry you disagreed with the piece,

  8. For those who have actually used Blue Mars, remember that it’s BETA!!! As far as not being able to go anywhere, I don’t experience that. In the areas that are up and running, you can go into buildings and up the hille and anywhere else. Except, of course, the places that aren’t finished. I find it interesting that people think this page is anti-SL. I have not found that to be true. That being said, as long as Blue Mars takes as much processing power and video power as it does now, it will be awhile until it catches on in my opinion. It is a great looking place, and will get better as it goes. But, it takse a gamer level computer to truly experience it because of the fact that it is built on the Cryengine (as in Chrysis). As for the negative responses from SL fans, I don’t think LL is worried just yet and as for the responses her and in other places where someone dares to say anything but good about SL, it’s like throwing a stick into a pack of dogs, the one that yelps the loudest is the one the stick hit. C.mon folks! Honestly, there is alot to snipe about with SL, Blue Mars, and alot of other platforms out there. I think they’re all big enough to take a lick now and then.

  9. wow what controversy! many things can coexist – SL is no longer the only game in town
    that’s not good or bad and beyond anyone commenting here to truly affect. Linden Lab is a corporation, subject to the board and decisions made by many in the company
    some decisions will be good, some bad, and only time will tell it’s destiny
    they have done a good job alienating some people but will continue for who knows how long
    would be nice to have Philip more involved – M Linden is not a virtual world “nut” from my dealings with him. i don’t doubt his ability as a CEO though
    Philip was passion and ability, M is ability and business imo

  10. Right now blue mars is deader than SL ever was, or will be.
    And when I’m looking at then non-existant progress, I can’t help but wonder about their promised “going live” in january ’10.
    Frankly, I do not see that happen. Unless they use a totally different calendar… one that shows today’s date as 12-08-2008.

  11. Hmm. Just in case anyone is wondering what all the comment fuss was about, Max took the liberty of changing the headline over 12 hours past the initial post. The original headline read, “Blue Mars Partners with the Smithsonian: Is Second Life in Trouble?”
    And Lance, of course Blue Mars is quiet. It’s in early Beta.

  12. Bettina –
    We took your concerns about the potentially alarmist title to heart
    when opting to make the change. Sorry that you didnt approve of the
    switch to a more neutral title.

  13. Very informative post. Smithsonian Institution is important for educational and research institute. The Smithsonian Institution was founded by James Smithson. It is also a famous museum complex maintained by the US government. The museum is a must watch as it has almost 136 million items. The museum publishes a magazine once in a month named Smithsonian and bimonthly named Air & Space. Natural Scientists were majorly attracted to this instiitution. It is open all days and there is no fees to watch this intstitution. For more details refer

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