Next week San Jose will be abuzz with virtual worlders. The big question is what to focus on if you are attending VWFall2007.
In my view, since the demise of the virtual world I was working on, the most interesting one to watch is Areae‘s Metaplace. Raph Koster has pulled together a great combination of web meets virtual world components, including an open standard markup language.
One thing I find curious though, is that Metaplace will apparently not have digital asset sale facilities. As Raph says in an interview with Virtual World News:
Our virtual currency is a network level currency. It’s mostly for network usage. We don’t have anything planned for asset sales in a world. The thing we’re thinking of are upsell costs for aspects of the service. I’m not a fan of the gameplay-affecting transactions anyway. It is important for the game to have a level playing field.
Personally, I think this is a blind spot, and I cannot believe that with backing from one of the biggest virtual goods evangelists, Susan Wu of Charles River Ventures, Metaplace will not introduce some form of digital assets sales either directly or through an external application.
UPDATE: Raph has clarified the situation. Metaplace has a virtual currency; which can be used for virtual goods sales by anyone. They have digital asset sales at the network level. What they are not doing is making a whole bunch of digital asset sales worlds however. This is a good thing : Metaplace is not Metamall.