Two new virtual worlds focused on allowing casual gamers to play together have been launched within the past week.
The first, Mytopia, is a two-dimensional world created by the similarly named Israeli start-up. It interfaces with Facebook, Bebo and MySpace to allow players to leverage existing friend connections to give players a head start in the world.
Talking to TechCrunch, co-founder Guy Ben-Artzi said: "What we have done over the past year is to look at all the massively multiplayer games and we've tried to analyse what makes those sticky and social. What's great about them is that you've got people playing in guilds and playing with each other. We're building the MMO backend minus the 3D perspective and hardcore genre."
In addition to all of the regular social gaming functionality such as in-game messaging, item trading and the ability to work collaboratively or competitively with friends, the real big potential that Mytopia exposes is its capability to be a 'platform' for casual games.
The company plans to open the world to other developers in May, meaning that casual game developers can code once for the Mytopia platform and have their games playable not only on Facebook, Bebo and Myspace but also the platforms that Mytopia will soon be supporting, including iGoogle Gadgets, Apple Dashboard Widgets and Windows Vista Toolbar Widgets - essentially a cross platform service both in terms of networks and hardware.
But Mytopia isn't the only casual-game focused virtual world to launch within the last week - VizWiz, a service developed in the UK, has also just seen release. Aimed at kids and teenagers, the world offers a 3D chat room and customisable avatars so that juvenile users can 'stretch their imagination and creativity'.