There are plenty of efforts on the Web to monetize user-generated content. Snoo.ws has written about fashion companies such as Threadless and RYZ that are taking popular user designs and selling them to the masses. Now comes Whirled, a virtual world where visitor players can design avatars, furniture, games and other items, and sell them for real cash to other players.
“It’s an interesting idea that combines user-generated content, open source and embeddable virtual worlds, as well as successful business models,” Parks Associates analyst Michael Cai told Forbes.com. Cai estimates the real cash market for virtual items today is more than $1.5 billion. “All those elements have been tried; it was just a matter of time before someone came in and combined [them].”
Launched in March, the Whirled beta has attracted 60,000 users. The online world began allowing designers, programmers and artists to start creating items this week. They receive 30 per cent of the purchase price of every item sold.
Players in the Whirled world can jump from place to place, play new games in different places, chat with other players, buy items, explore new areas and hang out with virtual friends in a series of surreal, online environments.
Whirled is from Three Rings Design, creator of the popular multiplayer game Puzzle Pirates and online strategy game Bang! Howdy. The creators say Whirled is “our third and most ambitious project. … [Launched] at the 2007 Game Developers Conference, [it is] a web-based social world fueled at every turn by player created content – everything from avatars, to games, to pet monsters, can be custom designed and ‘remixed’ by players using easy Flash development tools.”