Club Cooee went open beta today… and it looks like a better-done Lively, but running on your desktop as a widget. Basically, it turns the VW experience into a desktop IM client. Or vice versa, perhaps — they describe themselves first and foremost as a messenger client.
Looks like it’s free, depending entirely on the sale of virtual currency for monetization (they run a two-currency system, like most virtual worlds do today). You can buy items and animations, and build your own rooms to some degree. My favorite feature, though, is drag and drop sharing of music and pictures from your desktop.
There’s gaming pedigree here — the company was founded by the guys who did The Settlers and AquaNox.