The Business and Design of Free-To-Play Games


Is KoinUp the Future of Avatar Social Networks?

First myspace conquered the world. In its wake came Facebook. Now, even your best friend’s mom has a Facebook account.koinup.jpg

But what’s next? For some it will be Koinup.

Koinup is the first social networking site for your virtual life. Not exclusive to Sims gamers, Second Life devotees or WoW weekend warriors, KoinUp is a place where you can give your multiple virtual world identities their own social network.

Koinup was founded in March 2007 and has thus far chosen to focus on Second life, Imvu, WoW and Sims 2 - but are not exclusive to these worlds. The most powerful feature - some sort of integration with these games - hasn't happened yet, so Koinup instead pledges to be a place to document all your virtual world activities.

I signed up for an account and was very impressed with the ease of registration. I think it tool a minute and a half total with no frustrating or invasive queries for personal information. It was also fun to get the user name I always try and grab on new sites - without resorting to a 36 letter mutation of an English word or a numeric sequence after the handle of choice.

Koinup's design is fairly straight forward, although not as intuitive as it could be. Where Koinup stumbles is the English language. It doesn't have the easy colloquialism of most Web 2.0 sites. A couple snippets:

It's very easy to use and it allow to anyone who have some ideas to tell stories.

Koinup takes your privacy very seriously. For more info, give a look to our Privacy Policy.

But the founders, Italians Pierluigi Casolari (CEO) and Edoardo Turelli (CTO), likely speak their native language better than I. Casolari pulls double duty as the site's content creator, but there's room for a translator or English editor on their team.

Koinup allows users to upload videos such as Machinima and tutorials, associated still images and still image series referred to as storyboards. One of the great features Koinup has incorporated is CrossPosting, or the ability to load pictures onto Flickr and other photo sharing sites from within the Koinup uploading system. At this point, CrossPosting doesn’t work with video or storyboards but perhaps that will come next.

One aspect of Koinup that stood out was the site's emphasis on “Coolness” (their word). Obviously the idea of karma or kudos or cred has been present in social networking sites almost from day 1, but never has it been tacked on quite so blatantly. Site members themselves in addition to the media they uploaded are ranked on coolness. The coolness of media is determined using the usual vectors like views and comments, but member coolness is determined with a "unique" metric.

Members are ranked on coolness based on the popularity of their work (naturally) but also by the number of times that member has flagged offensive material in other people’s profiles.

This is a bit of a head scratcher. It's akin to incentivizing programmers for finding bugs. Obviously peer moderation is crucial in a user created content environment, but such a direct rewarding for overzealous policing seems destined to backfire.

Ideas like Koinup are inevitable, but Koinup is in need of much refinement before it serves its audience well. I'm looking forward to the next iteration of an avatar social network - whether it's Koinup or not - as we're certain to hear a lot more about social networking for the metaverse.

Three questions, a couple that Koinup might answer:

  1. Do people use similar avatar personalities in different worlds?
  2. How many people use multiple virtual worlds concurrently?
  3. Couldn't Facebook or myspace easily incorporate avatar profiles - either on their own or as a section of your primary profile - thereby eroding the market for standalone avatar social networks?

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The Five Most Popular Game Communities

Actiontrip has just posted a 2 pager on what it believes are the five most popular game communities, presumably in the world. Although the list isn't ranked and doesn't include any of the bigger Asian success stories, it has some interesting numbers.

Here are some highlights.

On CounterStrike:

Last we checked, the CS community had just over 174,665 active servers, with approximately 276,552 gamers playing online at the time we did our research (so just over 2 players per server, eh? - Ed). If the statistics on Steam are to be believed, this should translate into roughly 9.423 billion (yes, that's the correct amount) minutes of play time per month.

On Runescape:

Recent research indicated that 13.1% of all PC gamers have played Runescape at some point throughout June 2007, with the average RuneScape player spending 673 minutes per week within the game. After this RuneScape became the 5th most played PC game just behind Blizzard's World of Warcraft and games like Halo: Combat Evolved, Halo 2 and, of course, The Sims.

On Halo:

The most recent update showed that almost 12,706 players were online in Halo 2 at the time when we checked. Also, around 261,820 unique players were registered, with 688,136 matches logged (data from the last 24 Hours).

The lack of Asian representation likely stems from the all-North American sources used for the article: NPD, Steam,, Google Trends and Nielsen Media Research.

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