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Virtual world designer Metaplace to shutter

Saying it hasn't been able to gain traction as a consumer user-generated content service, Raph Koster's leading game design company is shutting down.

Metaplace, a service that allowed anyone to create a Web-based virtual world, said late Monday that it is closing its doors.

In an announcement made by e-mail, the company--founded by legendary game designer Raph Koster--said it will shutter on New Year's day.

"Today we have unfortunate news to share with the Metaplace community," the company wrote in the e-mail. "We will be closing down our service on January 1, 2010 at 11:59 pm Pacific...We will be having a goodbye celebration party on January 1st at noon Pacific Time.

"Over the last several years, we here at Metaplace have been working very hard to create an open platform allowing anyone to come to a Web site and create a virtual world of their own. Unfortunately, over the last few months it has become apparent that Metaplace as a consumer (user-generated content) service is not gaining enough traction to be a viable product, requiring a strategic shift for our company."

The company first announced its plans for Web-based virtual worlds in 2007. Koster had previously made his name as the chief creative officer for Sony Online Entertainment and as a lead on the hit online game, Ultima Online.

Metaplace could not be immediately reached for comment.