Game talkBig or small valuations?

 Posted by (Visited 7631 times)  Game talk
May 312007

Virtual Worlds News reports that HiPiHi has raised $7-10m, with the little comment that it’s “from three overseas venture capital firms for a 10 percent stake in the company.” So, uh, that’s a valuation of $70-100m for a product in beta.

On the flip side, I just mentioned Multiverse’s round, which was for $4.175m. According to VentureBeat, that’s with a post-money valuation of $10.5m.

Quite a gap there. Is it all attributable to HiPiHi being in China? Is it because the monolithic server is seen as a better business play than the slightly-middlewarish Multiverse approach? Who knows!

I know, I know, all you gamer types are bored with this biz and legal stuff I keep blogging today. 🙂

Game talkIs a standard lurking?

 Posted by (Visited 9590 times)  Game talk
May 302007

More and more of these open networked platforms for shared 3d spaces keep popping up on my radar. Here’s a list of three new ones to add to the likes of OpenCroquet and Ogoglio.

  • Muse is an oldie that I had forgotten about, but I’m linking it here for completists’ sake — it’s has been around since 1998. And it looks like the site hasn’t been updated since 2003. But there’s an SDK to download!
  • Interreality’s Virtual Object System. Dates from … 1999. Their FAQ states that it’s compatible with Wndows 2000, which means, I guess, that they haven’t updated their site in a while either.
  • On the other hand, Uni-Verse seems to be a going concern, and has the backing of some universities.

What else is out there lurking? Outback Online hasn’t announced specifics of what they’re doing yet, but they do have a nice list of what they’re not. 🙂

Edits from readers:

Game talkEVE scandal a frame job?

 Posted by (Visited 10659 times)  Game talk  Tagged with:
May 302007

It comes up all the time: the question of whether managing an online community is like governance. Whether the users are at least somewhat like citizens, and not just like customers, and whether the admins are effectively policymakers, and not just game developers out to make a buck.

It’s an interesting question with tons of ramifications. Indeed, Ted Castronova’s upcoming book, which I was lucky enough to get a manuscript copy of, is entirely devoted to the idea that the real world is going to learn a lot of lessons from online governance.

In the meantime, what we get is the opposite. It turns out that the latest allegations of corrupt administration in EVE Online may have been a deliberate smear attempt by a guild. CCP, makers of EVE, have posted an evidence trail that in their opinion in damning — the fact that there was a prior beef between the guild in question and CCP, the fact that somehow the story hit all Net outlets simultaneously right at the start of a holiday weekend…

I can’t judge who’s in the right on this. To me what is interesting is that frankly, it looks like the action of a political party against their opposition. But it’s not like EVE’s “government” can be toppled. The only real result from an action like this is effectively a scorched earth policy: “we don’t like how things are run, so we’ll destroy the game for everyone.” Of popular reactions like these are dictatorships made.

Edit: the drama continues with the guild’s response.

Game talkVirtual money laundering in the news

 Posted by (Visited 7787 times)  Game talk
May 302007

Hmm, policy wonks are starting to notice.

This virtual world of role-playing games presents a number of challenges to US law enforcement. First and foremost, no specific laws apply to it. Second, by virtue of its anonymous and virtual nature, it is nearly impossible to track real money deposited into and cashed out of the game. Third, the challenge of identification is compounded by the fact that neither players nor recipients are subject to any rigorous due diligence beyond the disclosure of an e-mail address, and even that can be spoofed. Fourth, there are no limits on the amount of money – real or virtual – that may be used in the game. Furthermore, since there are no clear jurisdictions, violations of laws are hard to prosecute.Moving funds from one criminal/terrorist to another can work like this: A criminal/terrorist using fake IDs opens a virtual account in an online game. He then deposits real money via an ATM into his virtual account. With his virtual currency he buys virtual real estate from his co-conspirator and transfers virtual payment for the property to the seller’s virtual account. The seller then converts the virtual currency into real money and withdraws it from an ATM.

Game talkMMO long tails

 Posted by (Visited 20446 times)  Game talk
May 292007

There’s been interesting discussion on the post about Argentum Online* and on the post about user-created content snobbery about the quality and quantity and potential popularity of user-created MMOs.

To recap, I commented that the barrier to entry for making your own MMO has been falling steadily. Given that just about any player can tell you exhaustively and in great detail exactly how their favorite MMO should be changed to make it 1000% better, this is bound to result in quite a lot more MMOs being created.

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