China will soon have its first cash-based virtual world, where millions of people can work, socialize, learn and fall in love, Sweden-based Entropia Universe announced Wednesday.
Entropia said it was chosen to create an online universe of planets populated by avatars, the animated stand-ins for human users.
It took nearly a year to negotiate the deal, Entropia said, with the Cyber Recreation Development Corporation (CRD) the online entertainment division of the Beijing Municipal People’s Government.
We also found out that there’s a Chinese company called Hipihi that is also building a Chinese virtual reality platform (report in Chinese), which has been dubbed the Chinese version of the popular virtual reality/community program “Second Life”, who also entered the competition, eventually losing ot Entropia.
Hipihi is still being beta-tested, and but the report in the above link suggests they’ve managed to drub up $10 million in venture capital, meaning that someone believes this just might be the next big thing. And they’re not alone in this opinion,you can read what Kaiser Kuo had to say about Hipihi in a blog post from February.
One more note on Entropia, with respect to the issue of censorship:
When asked by AFP whether Entropia was adapted to the practice of Chinese officials to monitor and censor Internet use Behrmann said, “Our current system works well with the needs of CRD and China — no special accommodations were necessary.”
CRD is part of the Beijing municipal government. Hmmmm.
In any case, Entropia’s China project will supposedly one day be able to support 7 million users simultaneously, with the hopes that there will eventually a be a total of 150 million users who come to this virtual world to do business, socialize, etc. We don’t know what the figures for Hipihi are, but in any case we’ll probably go for whichever one of the virtual worlds that has the highest percentage of the population that has loose morals.
Photo from centric.com