Photobucket members will discover a new option when logging in this morning. The company has partnered with Meez, the 3-D avatar service to give Photobucket members a place to store and host their 3-D avatars. We don't normally cover personal avatar services, but when they partner with sites with over 40 million users, it's worth noting. Meez has approximately a million users (which in and of itself is no small feat), and the service has apparently seen quite a bit of growth in the last few months.
Users can pick from a ton of options to make their own virtual avatar, and spit it out to their Photobucket account. Meez gives each user seven variations of their Meez avatar, including two sizes of animated GIFs (one of which we've embedded to the left).
If you're wondering how Meez stays afloat offering this service, they have partnerships with a number of musicians and clothing companies to offer virtual promotional items, something that's been done in Second Life and the upcoming PlaystationHome. Users can dress their virtual selves in free clothing, but some of the promotional items fetch a small price in virtual currency called 'coinz.' Before scoffing too much, keep in mind the online micropayment market has created its own economy between World of Warcraft and the XBOX Live Marketplace in the last few years, and profits are going nowhere but up.
Previous coverage of Meez can be found here.