The partial death and refocus of Blue Mars

In a fairly unexpected move, Avatar Reality’s CEO Jim Sink has announced the cessation of development of the PC application version of virtual world Blue Mars, with the soon to be smaller company moving to focus on developing for the iOS (read: iPhone / iPad) platform. The change involves the loss of a number of staff, including Jim himself. You can also listen to audio of his discussion with the Blue Mars community here.

Whichever way you look at it, this is a major setback for the company. The switch to iOS, however viable, does provide a stark contrast to the PC-only development to date. That sort of strategic shift doesn’t happen overnight, and given the fact an alpha of the iOS version is already in existence adds weight to that. On the face of it, it looks like another shift to the more superficial virtual worlds offering. The withdrawal of technical support and the shelving of further development for the current PC client will have a serious impact on the core group of content creators who’ve been working on the platform to date. Those creators may still have a role to play on the iOS version but it’s hard to envisage it moving out of beta before the end of the year.

Overall, this announcement has a few key impacts. First, it effectively ends in the short-term any claim Blue Mars had over being a serious challenger to Second Life. Second, Blue Mars now enters the iOS marketplace which is burgeoning with developers working on virtual worlds. Third, this places an ever more focused spotlight on the viability of more complex, content-driven virtual worlds. I’m hopefully very wrong but there seems to be a race to the bottom for market share more broadly. Hopefullt Blue Mars proves that wrong but I’m unconvinced.

Sincere commiserations to those affected by this change.

Comments

  1. I have been a regular user of Blue Mars and had been learning and helping with content creation for it. The few people who did use or visit BM could see the issues. Most people wanted BM to be something that the developers never seemed to understand or intend it to be. Its failure seemed all to predictable. I think AR was probably just too small to make it into something people wanted. Now they are making it into something else. Good luck too them, but it is not the Blue Mars I wanted it to be.

  2. The Virtual World market is Second Life’s right now. They will not have a graphically rich competitor breathing down their necks for crucial institutional, educational, and mainstream business investments. If Linden Labs can gain the business that is now evaluating Blue Mars, which includes according to some reports the huge U.S. Smithsonian Institution, they can regain momentum in the virtual world arena.

    It is also clear the Linden Lab’s initial business model for Second Life — let the users handle development, keep things as open as possible in terms of building and scripting, and minimal if any enforcement of internal content — actually makes sense considering that large-scale professional content development, sales, and maintenance is very expensive. Whether or not they can become a serious commercial or educational platform is still to be decided, but doubtful given Second Life’s current rendition.

  3. Very sad news. We are still hoping to do a performance there in May (who knows if they’ll exist or in what form by May, but we’ll give it a shot)
    http://vaneeesa.com/2011/01/06/vbcomultiverse-2011/

    I have only very minimal poking around BM and no building there. It certainly looked pretty. But mostly I loved that somone other than LL was developing a VW grid architecture.

  4. Very sad news. We are still hoping to do a performance there in May (who knows if they’ll exist or in what form by May, but we’ll give it a shot)
    http://vaneeesa.com/2011/01/06/vbcomultiverse-2011/

    I have only very minimal poking around BM and no building there. It certainly looked pretty. But mostly I loved that somone other than LL was developing a VW grid architecture.

  5. erudyte42 says:

    Lawrence:

    Isn’t this just a perception is that there is a more attractive/larger business potential from the iOS (hand-held?) VW market ?

  6. You’ve probably heard this before and you’ll probably hear this again: it’s Linden Lab singular, not plural.

  7. actually you are the first one to point it out to me! thanks suezanne 🙂

  8. I shan’t mourn this too much. My system, which worked “ok” under Second Life, was struggling using Blue Mars. The 1 GB range of downloads for initial software plus for whole environments was a definite turn off while one waited for that to complete. Other virtual world, like Twinity or Onverse, that do the same, download the environment in much less time and overall, more fun.

Trackbacks

  1. […] The partial death and refocus of Blue Mars – Metaverse Journal […]

  2. […] Lowell Cremorne’s The partial death and refocus of Blue Mars […]

  3. […] The shots (pictured left) aren’t really different to the ones released when the announcement of the iPhone version, PC version halt and staff layoffs were announced a fortnight ago. […]

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