3D Virtual Worlds

Note: I have not updated this page since 2017, and don’t have the time or interest to do it any more. It’s here for historical reasons.  If you are looking for updated info, try elsewhere.

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).

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 since January 2009
Customization: Avatar customization
User Created Content: None
Notes: Another 3D Chat Client designed primarily for teens
Website: http://www.clubcooee.com/


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/


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/

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

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.
Got a big graphics update in Sept 2014.
Has its own social network system at Utherverse.com
Website: http://www.redlightcenter.com/ (This link is now very NSFW and contains virtual porn, you have been warned!)

Associated Worlds:
Rude Virtual

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/


Operated By: Sine Wave Company
Built By: Sine Wave Company Based on the Unity Engine
Status: Open Beta since September 2016, huge developer upgrade July 2017
Customization: Complete customization of avatars and Land
User Created Content: Yes, in fact all the content is user created, developer site at http://developer.space/
Notes: From the makers of Gojiyo, this is marketed to western audiences
Website: http://sine.space/

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/


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


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/

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.

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/

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

High Fidelity

Status: Open Beta since 2017
Developed by Philip Rosedale original developer of Second Life
Notes: A development platform for virtual reality, requires VR gear to use.
Website: https://highfidelity.com/


Status: Open Beta since 2017
Developed by Linden Labs, the makers of Second Life
Primarily a development platform designed for VR use, does not necessarily require VR gear to use.
Website: https://www.sansar.com/


Status: Open Beta since 2017
Created by Graham Gaylor and Jesse Joudrey VRChat Inc.
A chat system for VR similar to IMVU. Players can create their own instanced worlds in which they can interact with each other through virtual avatars.
Website: https://www.vrchat.net/


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