Due to falling revenue, There, a virtual world similar to Second Life, is closing its servers as of March 9th, 2010.
Launched the same year as Second Life, There was a virtual world which users could inhabit as avatars. You were only limited by your own imagination in There, with the ability to create nearly any item you desired. There offered games to play with your friends online such as card games, quests, paintball, and riding hoverboards a la Marty McFly in Back To The Future 2. Despite lucrative deals with corporations like MTV and Coca-Cola, There was hit hard by the economic recession and was unable to recover. In a statement from the CEO, Michael Wilson, it was revealed that There is shutting down for good on March 9th. But the company is doing so with as much class as possible by refunding any purchase of Therebucks, the world’s currency, in the last month as well as offering to buy back Therebucks from any official developer that may have a balance.
Wilson says that There was in some ways a victim of of its own success. By appealing to third world cultures and lower income customers who didn’t necessarily have broadband access, There‘s user base coincided with those hit the hardest by the economic downturn. According to Wilson, There was a “special, accessible, and attractive to people from all over the United States and the world — not just the privileged with high-end machines and broadband connections.” He continued:
Unfortunately, this also meant that There.com’s customers were hardest hit by the recession, and, so was There. While our membership numbers and the number of people in the world have continued to grow, there has been a marked decrease in revenue, which, in these economic times, is no surprise.
Throughout the last year and this quarter, we have fought the good fight by churning out new features and revisions as fast as we possibly could.
It is definitely sad to see a place like There fade away. While it may not have had the subscriber numbers or buzz as some of its competitors, it was a world that its users enjoyed and it allowed them freedom they may not have been able to utilize in their mundane meatspace.
No mention was made of the team at There losing their jobs but it would seem that downsizing is inevitable. Our sympathies go out to those affected by this closing and here’s hoping that you find yourself back on your feet soon.