Several years ago I had read about this new world coming online called Blue Mars. It promised to be an awesome world far superior to anything currently online. It finally came online and I logged in September 2009. The environments were jaw droppingly beautiful. As time went on new cities were added and some of those added even more WOW to the experience. Things were good for a while but as time went by I wanted more. What was missing to me was meaningful content. True the builds were nice, the scenery awesome and other users were cool. What was there to do? Not very much. No vehicles, no games and very little interactive content. Avatar customization was also limited. Skins and clothing were available in increasing numbers but the ability to edit the shape/face was not improved. Mesh was available so you could buy a shape but that created an army of look a like clones!
That’s not to say nothing ever happened in Blue Mars. On the contrary there were events held every day in either the Welcome Area or one of the residential cities. Parties, Live music, fashion shows, trivia, bowling and golf events happened every week. Yours truly got most of her “Blus” playing trivia. Apart from the organized events there was really nothing to do. I’d go long periods between log ins.
Content is king and Blue Mars was a pauper. It simply never reached a threshold of developers to create stuff to keep people interested. Conversely if there are few people (customers) what’s to attract more developers? It’s a bit of a vicious circle.
When I first read the blog post from Jim Sink I figured that the Blue Mars I knew would simply fade away. It appears that is not the case, it’s simply taking a different direction to find users and generate revenue. We’re all aware how popular the iOS platform is (iPhone and iPad). The thinking is that the smartphone/tablet market is the new future for gaming and interaction. I think they’re on to an interesting angle there and may find some traction.
Jim Sink was in Blue Mars Friday night and gave more details on the plans for Blue Mars. The move to iOS will occur in phases. Phase 1 is the avatar phase. Basically it’s going to be an interactive dress up doll you can interact with even without a net connection. Phase 2 will be the creation of environments (rooms & places). Phase 3 will be the interaction with other users in common environments. I guess Phase 4 will be graduating to the PC client? (Which is NOT going away). I think this may actually work for Blue Mars. People do love to play games and play with pets on their devices. For those of us that have smartphones we know this for a fact and the smartphone/tablet user base is HUGE.
The PC client and all the cities currently online will not be neglected. Further development is no longer scheduled ( not canceled like some people are saying). Bug fixes will still be addressed and city owners and content creators will still be allowed to develop and upload their content. While no new cities will come online those currently there will no longer be charged fees. Jim also mentioned that Blue Mars may allow more mature content too. Development of Android apps is a good possibility also. If Avatar Reality can find traction in the new market and realize significant revenue then they fully intend to revisit the PC client and investing more into content. (Dammit! I want my scooter in Blue Mars!)
I wish them luck. The virtual world market isn’t easy and they have made a good effort. Let’s hope this new approach leads to success. The first iteration of their iOS apps are due in February and as an iPhone user I’ll be giving it a try.
Here are a couple of vids showing off a beta of the iOS client:
P.S. No Hamlet wasn’t there. I’m not sure if he still has a “job” with them. Quite a few staffers were fired to include some of the online event coordinators. 😦