Twinity's virtual London opens for business

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Twinity_London_Piccadilly_small[Germany] Twinity, the virtual world that mirrors the real world, has finally launched a beta of virtual London. And if mirroring the real world includes replicating London’s reputation for delayed construction works, then Berlin-based Metaversum, the company behind Twinity, is doing just fine.

The virtual world, which distinguishes itself from the likes of Second Life by building exact replicas of well known cities, launched back in 2006 and while London was always planned to follow Berlin and Singapore, it feels like it’s been a long time coming. And tough luck if you are on a Mac – the 3D browser only supports Windows XP and Vista.

Even now, virtual London is incomplete. Initially, users are only able to visit London’s famous Soho district, “stretching virtually from Oxford Street down to Trafalgar Square including the world-famous Piccadilly Circus and China Town.” However, Oxford Street in particular is at the heart of London’s shopping region and the home to many famous brands. And that’s probably the point. Virtual worlds are all about business and Twinity is no exception.

Case in point: to celebrate the launch of virtual London, Metaversum is offering the first 10 residents and shop owners based in real Soho the chance to win their virtual apartment or shop floor at the same address in Virtual London for one year at no cost. To qualify, they are required to send their name and proof of (real) address to the company. The idea is that brick ‘n’ mortar retailers (or night club, bar and restaurant owners) will want to set up shop in Twinity’s London to promote their brands or sell virtual goods. It’s the same pitch that Second Life has made for years and at its most hyped saw a virtual land grab by a number of famous brands. However, given we are in a recession, one wonders how many businesses will be rushing to take up this offer.

Following Soho, further districts and landmarks will be rolled out, with Big Ben, Tower Bridge and Buckingham Palace up next. And all of this week Twinity will also be holding live events, walking tours and contests in virtual London to kick start its newest offering – although I suspect they will need to continue staging such activities in order to persuade users to keep coming back.


  • Ken Barrett

    Unfortunately, a fabulous asset for terrorists.

    • RichSpalding

      @ken though I haven’t used this, I am not sure this is any more use to a terrorist than any publicly available OS map or a physical visit to London. Are you a Daily Mail journo by any chance?

    • ak77

      Ken, what a lot of hysterical horseshit.

      May as well say it’s a great resource for alien invasions.

  • magnum

    Very cute, a pioneer development for germans.. sadly, what’s the probable use? ahh yes, a far-version of virtual world that let’s you peek things on London.

    You can’t deny the fact, that it sounds like a Twitter Application though.. “Twi- Nity”

    BING MAP review:

  • Kirsten Winkler

    The problem with those virtual worlds is the Vanilla Sky effect. Even worse when you are in a virtual rebuild of a city you know.

    As long as they are not getting people to “live” there, it all won’t work. Or they need to copy from WoW and embed virtual people. Otherwise you will run through empty streets like Tom Cruise. Not my idea of spending the day ;)

  • Jim

    Twinity will fail.

    – It has no goal. Users do not see a clear benefit
    – It’s boring. The streets are completely empty.
    – Wrong technology. A super-heavy download client that delivers graphics that look 10 years old.
    – Questionable useability.

  • Ben Werdmuller

    I always feel like virtual worlds cater to people who don’t really get the Internet, and find something that mirrors real life somehow comforting. For the rest of us, getting immersed in a world usually involves playing a game, watching a movie or reading a book; the Internet is about efficient communication and information-gathering. The last thing these worlds are is efficient.

    For example, universities have long held an inexplicable fascination with Second Life. I’ve sat in on those sessions; students spend 45 minutes trying to work out how to sit down, or end up flying around the screen, and then the session’s up. It’s ridiculous, and inappropriate for most kinds of interactions. 3D environments do make sense for modelling, and for games, but for most activities they’re a great big well-rendered red herring.

    • Antony Evans

      What you do get with virtual worlds are multi-level communication. If a standard conference call or video call is really one-to-many communication, virtual worlds like second life enable many-to-many communication as people can have private IM chats, have a central audio plus gesture and otherwise indicate emotional response to things happening. There is a steep learning curve, but once its followed there is some value. Especially useful for brainstorming and other types of non-linear meetings…

  • Paolo

    It’s a Windows only thing with a Mac client under development. No Linux.

    Second Life runs everywhere. Was that hard for Twinity to do the same?

  • Peter


  • Lee Provoost

    who cares about this if you have google streetview? :-)

  • sam klume

    I love london!

  • Doom Doom

    Doom to fail.. 2 Failures already, Berlin (their hometown) and Singapore has virtually no traffic. I expect to see the same for London.

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  • Quesito

    In Madrid (Spain) we have
    It´s a virtual world about the gay area of Chueca, but for now it´s just the square and some pubs.

  • Mark Alexander

    As mentioned in the comments on this post, the Berlin launch a few years ago was not a huge success – the potential of Google Streetview is far greater and more reliable, not to mention faster from a development viewpoint. Replicating london is a very painstaking process particularly for an SME.

    The next step in my mind is to bring or adapt Google Streetview INTO a virtual environment so that the realtime social, collaborative and community benefits of environments like Second Life and Twinity are harnessed effectively. The little yellow man on Google Streetview is a huge tease to this concept, merging the collaborative elements of Google Wave with Google Streetview may well be one of the next big things at Google Labs. explores the potential of virtual conferencing and meetings in realistic office environments.

    • Mark Alexander

      Google Maps have already been implemented in Second Life in innovative and funky ways, allowing users to walk across the maps in fairly realistic ways. Layering the 2D maps creates a surprisingly effective 3D effect, despite the birds eye perspective.

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  • Bubby Twinity

    Just tried the software.. BUGGY Iike shit.. Keep droping underground , Difficult to use and I really dont know what the fuzz is about this software.. Have uninstalled.

    They should test it before announcing it to public.

  • keeps Crashing

    Stupid software has crash on me everytime I run the software.. 2 years in the making and they cannot even get it to work properly on my PC…

    Yea and there is no one around all the time.

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  • Business

    I think the Berlin launch a few years ago was not a huge success – the potential of Google Streetview is far greater and more reliable, not to mention faster from a development viewpoint.

  • Business

    I think Twinity will be a success

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  • Cliff

    Good article.
    Wanted to note that you can now easily create your own 3D environment, and share with others easily, with 3DVIA Scenes.
    Currently in Private Beta (see video):

  • veronica

    how i can put the arroba in twinity??

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