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I try to keep up with the latest in 3D virtual worlds, but new stuff keeps popping up all the time, so no doubt I will miss stuff. I'm posting a page to keep track of it all.

Just a definition. A 3D Virtual World contains the following traits: 1. Its a Massively Multiplayer Online Game. 2. It renders in 3D (ruling out the literally hundreds of 2D flash virtual worlds like Club Penguin and Gaia Online). 3. It allows for multiple types of activities, primarily non-competitive social ones. (ruling out the dozens of MMORPG games as well as single activity games).

3D Virtual Worlds should also feature: Customizable avatars, customizable 3D residences, user created clothing, user created scriptable objects, Text/Speech/Gesture communication, Internet integration, multiplayer game launching capabilities. I covered this in more detail in "What is a Metaverse?

Note: Just because it is listed here does not mean I endorse it. I'm trying to make a list as complete as possible. There are some old and lame games on the list. There are also some new ones with potential, but not ready for prime time yet. There are also some special interest worlds that should have appeal for some. Do a little research before you actually join any of these games.

The List:

Active Worlds

Operated By: Activeworlds Inc 
Built By: Activeworlds Inc
Status: Developed 1994 Open since 1997
Customization: Land building is a primary activity. Simple customizable avatars.
User Created Content: Yes
Notes: Oldest still in existence. No in world economy, everything in world is free.
Website: http://www.activeworlds.com/

 

Club Cooee

Operated By: Cooee GmbH (Germany)
Built By: Cooee GmbH
Status: Open Beta since January 2009
Customization: Avatar customization
User Created Content: None
Notes: Another 3D Chat Client designed primarily for teens
Website: http://www.clubcooee.com/

 

FriendsHangout

Operated By: Evolver.com (Canada) / Friendshangout.com (US Florida)
Avatars By: Darwin Dimensions Inc.
Worlds By: unity3d.com and arteria3d.com
Status: Open beta since May 2009
Customization: Avatar customization through evolver.com, friendshangout offers custom world creation.
User Created Content: Evolver has custom clothing (for a fee), friendshangout allows custom 3D model uploading.
Notes: Friends hangout is a 3D Chat Virtual World using avatars created with Evolver.com. 
Autodesk has acquired Evolver and evolver.com is shutting down, not sure what that means to friendshangout
Website: http://friendshangout.com

My Review: What if you built an awesome 3D Virtual World and nobody came?

 

Gojiyo

Operated By: The Godrej Group  (India)
Built By: Sine Wave Company Based on the Unity Engine
Status: Open Beta since 2010
Customization: Avatar customization
User Created Content: No
Notes: Primarily marketed to an Indian audience
Website: http://gojiyo.com/

 

IMVU

Operated By: IMVU inc.
Created By: Will Harvey (also primary creator of There)
Status: Open Beta since 2004, Officially out of beta June 2008
Customization: Avatar and room customization via purchased items
User Created Content: Room, clothing, and animations via submission 
Notes: Designed as a 3D chat client, no free movement or explorable areas. Animations are triggered by interacting with objects.
Has its own social network system. Now with voice.
Website: http://www.imvu.com/

My Reviews: A Quick Peek at IMVU, The Oldest Noob in IMVU

 

Kaneva

Operated By: Kaneva inc.
Created By: Christopher Klause (founder of ISS)
Status: Open Beta since 2007
Customization: Limited avatar customization. Clothes and furniture can be purchased at the mall
User Created Content: Limited to wall hanging pictures.
Notes: Has a closely integrated social network system. Free apartment to decorate.
Website: http://www.kaneva.com/

  

NuVera Online

Operated By: Nitrous Butterfly LLC
Built By: Nitrous Butterfly LLC based on the Unity engine
Status: No longer beta as of Jan 2012
Customization: Limited avatar customization, room fully customizable
User Created Content: Developer program for textures and 3D objects.
Notes: Its primarily a social world for adults, with no teens and kids allowed.
Website: http://nuveraonline.com/

My Review: 3D Virtual World News and a Quick Peak at NuVera

 

Onverse

Operated By: Onverse (Arizona)
Built By: Onverse using the Torque Game Engine
Status: Open beta in June 2009
Platform: Windows, Mac, and Linux available
Customization: Limited avatar and room customization furnishings obtained via currency awards and currency purchase
User Created Content: none
Notes: Simple low end, low resource 3D virtual world. Also has social networking website.
Website: http://onverse.com/

My Review: A Quick Peek at Onverse

 

OSGrid (and other OpenSim based grids)

Operated By: OSGrid.org and others
Built By: Open source development with major contributions by IBM, based on technology by Linden Labs 
Status: Project started in 2007
Customization: Completely customizable avatars, Host land at home or on a web server
User Created Content: Textures, Animations, and Scripts instantly uploadable
Notes: OpenSimulator is a 3D Virtual World platform anyone can use to create a Second Life like virtual world. 
OSGrid is the largest of over 300 public grid that hosts and links thousands of individual regions to explore.
Website: http://osgrid.org/ and http://opensimulator.org/ 
Video above is from Virtual Highway.

Other Major OpenSimulator based grids (in order of approximate size):

My Review: Open Sim Grids

 

Playstation 3 Home

Operated By: Sony
Built By: Sony Computer Entertainment
Status: Open beta in December 2008
Platform: Playstation 3 owners only 
Customization: Limited avatar and room customization furnishings obtained via game awards
User Created Content: wall pictures only, possibly more
Notes: Designed to be a central meeting place for Playstation 3 owners. Meet in world then launch other multiplayer games to play.
Website: http://www.us.playstation.com/PSN/Home

My Review: A First Look at Playstation 3 Home

 

 Red Light Center

Operated By: Global Reach Inc.
Built By: Worlds.com
Status: Out of beta since 2007
Customization: Limited avatar customization
User Created Content: none
Notes: Primary focus is on adult content and online sex. VIP membership allows access to porn content.
Has its own social network system at Utherverse.com
Website: http://www.redlightcenter.com/

My Reviews: A Quick Peek at Red Light Center
How are the Virtual Worlds Doing?

Associated Worlds:
Rude Virtual
Virtual Vancouver
The Virtual World Web

 

Second Life

Operated By: Linden Labs. (California)
Built By: Linden Labs 
Status: Open to public since June 2003
Customization: Completely customizable avatars, Land via purchase or rent allows building space.
User Created Content: Textures, Animations, and Scripts instantly uploadable with small fee.
Notes: Largest 3DVW in both membership and activity. Over 20 million accounts, over 700,000 unique visitors monthly, and over 1800 sq. km of land.
Website: http://secondlife.com/

My Page dedicated to Second Life: Second Life Tips and Scripts

 

There Inc.

Operated By: Makena (California)
Built By: There Inc.
Status: First opened 2003 to 2010, limited reopen 2011, officially reopened May 2012
Customization: Customizable avatars, Houses and Land via purchasable lots.
User Created Content: textures, clothes, objects, furniture, vehicles
Notes: Monthly fee required. Once the largest 3D Virtual World, was closed for financial reasons, but
a strong fan base brought it back.  Seems a little dated today, but still has the best vehicles in 
the metaverse.
Website: http://there.com/

My Page dedicated to There: There Magic

 

3D Chat

Operated By: 3D Chat LLC
Built By: GolemLabs Studios using Gamebryo Engine
Status: Open beta since July 2010
Customization: Customizable avatars and apartments
User Created Content: none
Notes: Adult oriented virtual world requires credit card for ID verification.
Website: http://www.3dchat.com/

 

3D Sex

Operated By: Virtual Encounters Inc.
Built By: VWW Gaming Engine?
Status: Open since 2012
Customization: Limited avatar customization
User Created Content: none
Notes: Primary focus is on adult content and online sex. VIP membership allows
access to porn content. As far as I can tell it is not associated with VWW/Utherverse,
but uses the same gaming engine and business model.
Website: http://www.3dsex.com/

 

Twinity

Operated By: Exit Reality (Australia)
Built By: Metaversum (Germany)
Status: Open 
Customization: Facial avatar customization including skins from photo feature. Fully customizable rooms via purchasable furniture and textures
User Created Content: Retexture walls, furniture and clothing, more coming soon.
Notes: Strong web integration. You can hang a fully operational webpage on your wall. Only the third social virtual world to have voice feature.
Acquired by Exit Reality in June 2012.
Website: http://twinity.com/en

My Reviews: A Quick Peek At Twinity

  

vSide

Operated By: Exit Reality (Australia)
Built By: Doppelganger Inc. based on the Torque Game Engine
Status: Reopened under new ownership
Customization: Limited avatar customization
User Created Content: Clothing and other various items via submission
Notes: This teen oriented world has been shuffled around. Once operated by AOL, now by an Australian Virtual World company.
The original owners shut down in July 2009, but sold all assets to other companies. The new owner Exit Reality have it 
up and running again.
Website: http://www.vside.com/

 

Wet FM

Operated By: Another Dimension Media Ltd
Built By: Sine Wave Company on a Unity3D engine
Status: Open Beta since 2010
Customization: Limited customizable avatars
Notes: Designed primarily as a 3D Venue for live concerts and music. Formerly called ResLive.
Website:
http://www.wet.fm/

 

3D "Outside the Box" Exploring:

As a footnote, I want to mention a few sites that are almost 3D Virtual Worlds but are a little bit outside of the box. These websites are multiplayer and have 3D elements, but communications and navigation are a bit non-traditional.

Empire of Sports

Status: Open since December 2008
Notes: Multiple sports games against real players from around the world. Keep a common avatar between them.
Website: http://empireofsports.com/

Entropia Universe

Status: Open since 2003
Notes: For all intents and purposes, this is an MMORPG, but it has enough 3D Virtual World elements that it is often mistaken as such. Its free to start, but progress in the game requires real world money.
Website: http://www.entropiauniverse.com/

Exit Reality

Status: Open
Notes: Takes a standard 2D social network profile page, and converts it to a 3D space. Operates in your browser via plugin. Pictures turn into wall hanging pictures, embedded music turns into jukeboxes, embedded videos turn into TVs, and online friends turn into people you can chat with.
Website: http://www.exitreality.com/

My Review: A Quick Peek at Exit Reality

Football Superstars

Status: Open since November 2008
Customization: Avatar customization
Notes: Sort of a Football (Soccer) MMORPG but with a social virtual world aspect outside of playing games.
Website: http://footballsuperstars.com/

GeoSim Philly

Status: Beta since 2007
Notes: A very detailed "mirror world" of downtown Philadelphia, made by a company based in Israel. Originally appeared in the main list, may soon again as avatars are forthcoming.
Website: http://www.geosimphilly.com/

Google Earth

Status: Open since 2006
Notes: A 3D representation of the world via satellite. People can mark locations, tag photographs, tag videos, build 3D buildings to place on the world.
Website: http://earth.google.com

My Review: Google Earth 5 is Awesome

Koinup

Status: Open
Notes: This is a social network designed to showcase art and video made within 3D worlds. Now owned and operated by Exit Reality.
Website: http://www.koinup.com/

My Review: Social Networks for Virtual World Avatars

Nearô

Status: Open
Notes: A detailed "mirror world" of the main shopping area of London (the "west end") as a way to shop online in 3D.
Website: http://www.nearglobal.com/

Photosynth

Status: Released to public in 2008
Notes: Takes a large number of still photos of the same object and mashes them together into a 3D representation
Website:
http://photosynth.com/

3rd Planet

Status: Open Beta in 2011
Notes: A virtual tourism website using 3D interaction to visit real world tourist locations.
Website:
http://www.3rdplanet.com/