Competition is fierce.    In the natural world, the hyena clans clash with prides of lions, and only the strongest survive.   In a similar vein, the world of gaming has seen a lot of innovation and competitors have come on the scene to knock too-comfortable champions off of their thrones.   Atari competed with Colecovision, in the next generation, Nintendo is in an intense competition with Sony PlayStation.  So, we should probably not be surprised to see that when it comes to online social-gaming, the same competition would be keenly felt.  And, you would be right.

In the beginning, there was Second Life, owned by Linden Labs.  This was a rather clunky, though immersive platform, and it was only 2020 when Linden Labs sold this franchise to other investors.   Other newer, shinier toys beckon from the over-stuffed toy box.    I have done some research and these seem to the largest competitors to Second Life.  For fairness, I am presenting them in alphabetical order.

Avakin Life

Avakin Life is a social game after the example of Second Life, but with more complex functionality.  It was created by Lockwood Publishing (which has a large investment from Tencent.    There are over 200 million users of this platform.  Its success seems to stem largely from the developers’ focus on the phone and mobile computing.   This is the 4th generation of games from the company, and this seems to be the biggest hit they have had.  It is written up in any variety of websites and other publications.

The game was launched in 2013 on Google Play  and was a hit because of the gameplay, but mostly as a result of the social interaction.  It seems that one of the largest hurdles was designing a system for people to pay for things that they could use in-game.    One of the unusual features of this game is that the designers provide everything: There is no user-generated content in the immersive Star Trek and Tron-inspired world.  And, the company seems to be in the space for the long term.   Said one of the co-founders:

We saw how long it takes to develop a world and for the community to form,” Bjornsson said. “We saw how important social is. But we fell into this. Our style has been steady organic growth.”

Club Cooee

Club Cooee was started by a German startup, and recently added a 3D instant messaging service that combines avatars (with changing facial expressions with the ability to send videos and pictures.  These 3D avatars can be highly specialized, and clothing and accessories can be purchased in-game for “Club Cooee credits.”   In addition to gameplay, they can now converse in duos or groups, selecting a venue using in-game items.  The person can pay extra, and get access to premium services.    The founder, Alexander Jorias hinted that the platform was looking to make money with B2B partners.   The advertising will be non-standard making me think that there will be signs up in the game or sponsored activities that occur in-game to promote these partners.

To monetize, the site will allow users to buy extra credits to purchase virtual goods, and will also offer premium services for a fee. Founder Alexander Jorias says that the service is also planning to generate revenue with a number of B2B partners, and that little, if any money will come from standard advertising.

Garry’s Mod

Garry’s Mod (GMod) is a program made by Garry Newman that allows you to change the game of Half Life to your specifications . If you’ve ever searched “Half-Life” on YouTube, you probably have seen a Garry’s mod video, and many people seem quite excited by both the videos and the gameplay.  Besides being a social game, Garry’s Mod also appears to be a wonderful “sandbox” which allows players to create tools that will build spaceships.   There is also a “tool gun” which can help one manufacture vehicles or change the facial expressions of your avatar

Just to be fair, I should warn you that Garry’s Mod (GMod) does contain some blood and gore, so, be mindful.  It does require download of a Source engine game first, but this doesn’t seem like an onerous task.


GoJiyo was developed by an Indian firm, and the idea is that you (either solo or with a group) can go on quests.  At the completion of these quests, you get points that can be used to buy in-game merchandise or real-world items.   You can do an awful lot, (e.g. greatly customize your character and meet new friends), but there is an impressive list of things that you cannot.  Interestingly, this game too strictly does  not allow for user-generated content.

Jios and Mios are the currencies of this system, and if you collect enough of them, you can earn a real-world trip to Mt. Kilimanjaro.   Users agree, though, that to earn these real-world inducements takes a very long time.


This application does a lot of different things.   It has a 3D chat feature where you can have your avatar chatting with friends, and allows the person to shop at many different vendors.  It also allows you to have your own website and customize it to a very high degree.  Credits are the coin of the realm and you can use them to customize the appearance of your avatar.  There are a lot of ways to get credits including getting your friends to sign up for IMVU.  The truly unique thing about this program is the content is 100% user-created.  For an additional fee, you can be in the VIP club which gives you a special badge and removes third party ads.  There is also an Access Pass that is used to ensure that only adults are granted access to the areas that are geared toward adults.

Also unusual among these sites, there is a variety of ways to earn credits while contributing to the community.   There is a peer review function and these people perform a quality control function.   There is also a group for creators, who design new functions and products for the community.

The Sims 4

For 20 years now, we have had multiple editions of The Sims, wherein you create characters with their own life stories, and control them as they interact with your environment.   Up to now, this as been a single-player game.   But, with Sims 4, there seems to be an expansion module that will allow you to in some ways interact with a group of friends.  This is not really meant as an immersive social game, and seems to be a way for the manufacturer to dip their toes into the waters of social play.   But, there are rumors that The Sims 5 will be coming out soon, and combine the ability to control multiple characters and still interact with others.    Currently, this platform does not really fit with the others, but the title is well-known and came up in research again and again.


Twinity was developed by Metaversum and run by ExitReality since 2012, and allows its citizens to run around 3-D renderings of historical versions of real-world cities.  Recently, Twinity has been introducing more fantasy-related worlds, probably thanks to its large amount of user-created content.  Twinity allows users to upload pictures of their own face, which is used to create a personalized, identifiable avatar.  (If a different avatar is desired, this is easy to accomplish too.)

The currency of the world is the Global, which can be used to pay for apartments and accessories for their avatar.   Globals can be purchased on their homepage with any major credit card or PayPal.   Globals can be earned by attending virtual events or completing the post-registration “welcome tour.”

Twinity has an interesting mix of professional and user-generated content.  Once a user creates a new piece of content, they can sell this content to other users and earn Globals in this way.  Though the citizens are given a starter apartment, there is a real estate agent who can be used to find other possible real estate for their avatar.   With some noteworthy in-game accomplishments, there are badges that people can display on their profile.

The Verdict

Each game mentioned has its good points and bad.   The point being that there are a plethora of possibilities.   Plus, in the future, I think there will be multiple ways to make these games interoperable.  Said another way, you could build a character in one metaverse and port it to another.  This has the potential to be very exciting

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