As a much-needed antidote to the avalanche of kid virtual world launches, Near London launched to private beta yesterday.
What is new and rather interesting about Near London is that the U.K. company Near,™ will be launching a series of these virtual worlds, specifically geared as a platform for business, each world meticulously detailing an actual city the businesses already operate in.
The virtual cities are social networks, of course, but if executed well, with virtually limitless opportunities to replicate and augment concerts, events, shopping and meet ups - all within the virtual environment of actual world-class cities. Built upon the Qube Q plug-in based game engine, the client is essentially universal because Q can interface with any server backend. This means users can jump from virtual city to virtual city seamlessly.
Near is creating these cities as “virtual gateways” as well so retailers, artists, galleries, events, civic organizations can have the ability to click visitors through to their own virtual world or game environment. Currently businesses can window-dress their existing virtual windows, embed information within the 3D environment or can tag windows to other online information.
Near London is currently available for PCs only. Mac, Linux, Wii, Xbox360, PS3 and mobile is planned for 2009.
Near considers itself a media platform, offering marketing, e-commerce and research services. All 'round an interesting initiative to watch.
June 18, 2008