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Sly rumours of a persistent world ‘game’ from Google have been re-ignited this week, with analyst Michael Eisenberg of Benchmark Capital caught ruminating on the prospect of a Google-engineered ‘metaverse’. To the uninitiated, a metaverse is a virtual world, a la Second Life, with the speculation being that Google will use real-world data gathered from their existing enterprises to craft an alternate reality platform online.
Popular web mag Business 2.0 previously implied that Google could be working on a ‘virtual world’, and a social-interaction model. Eisenberg points to an ‘academic source’, as revealing that Google were in the process of buying in-game ad company AdScape, with a view to monetising any virtual world service. A report on tech-culture blog Gigaom.com points to sources in China as confirming that a local firm has been employed to craft avatars for users to navigate the world with, while an internal team at the internet giant builds the ‘metaverse’ itself.
Google have in the past refused to comment, but speculation from the blog report hints that a team formerly of the There.com fame, are working on the world presently. There.com is an alternative to Second Life, though lacks the economic clout of Linden Labs’ rival. Finally, one of the key figures behind Google Earth and Maps, John Hanke, is said to have a gaming pedigree, sparking chatter that some kind of online world could be on the cards. The search engine firm’s own SketchUp service already has a product for crafting 3D models for using as layers on Google Earth, though whether this would fit with with overall aim of an engaging persistent-world remains uncertain.
Google are certainly in a position to put a new spin on the whole 2.0 social-interaction phenomenon, and given their existing prowess in the field of context-relevant advertising the company could certainly be looking to new methods for ad delivery, capitalising on the present online ‘zeitgeist’: MMO games and social-networking.
If further proof were needed that Google could be plotting a ‘metaverse’ funded by some clever ad tie-ins, we need look no further than Google’s recent entry into the radio ads market through acquisition, which suggests Google are considering new methods of ad delivery away from their search engine results pages.
All just gossip at present. Source: play.tm