Have you heard about Second Life? It is a virtual world where you can enter as an avatar, explore, meet up and create communities with other people. It is generating an interesting virtual economy that is translating into dollars and cents here in the real world. Now, we have a chinese clone for Second Life, a company named HiPiHi. Our resident contributor, Bjorn Lee, co-founder of Entrepreneur27 gives us a review about HiPiHi and offers his perspective on the competition with 2nd Life in the near future.
Contributed by Bjorn Lee
HiPiHi: The World Exists Because Of You. (Literal translation from Chinese) The name is derived from 3 base words: I, Hi, Hapi (or the phonetically similar “Happy”).
Currently in closed beta testing, HiPiHi has generated some interest on Second Life Insider and debates on whether this will take off in China.
Some key observations (the entire site is written in Chinese, so I play translator here):
- - Hipihi was founded way back in October 2005 in Zhongkuanchun, Beijing. Second Life took a long time to be developed too before its launch.
- - The founders are mainly Xu Hui and Rao XueWei.
- - The founders are guys but everything else in their marketing, including their promo video here, appears to target the female crowd.
- - The whole site and virtual world uses Chinese as the main language.
- - There are two main products: Hipihi World and Hipihi Home
- Hipihi World is exactly like Second Life: avatars can fly and modify their own appearances, build houses, explore the land with planes, choppers and hot air balloons, which HipiHi calls public transportation systems. You can also have steering controls over your flight, offering a chance to fly your own plane. Options for parachuting also exists. The World seems to be organized around malls and town squares with socializing at its very core. Of course, avatars can also buy land and build their own houses. I see a lucrative industry coming up.
- Hipihi Home appears to be modelled after CyWorld. It is positioned as a personal space and private communication platform between friends. Users will own their “living rooms”, procure furniture and be able to invite their friends to their “homes” and attend parties at others too. Whats most interesting is the mention of a convergence between internet and mobile. Could Hipihi be a dual-screen innovation? We will have to wait for the launch
- - Like Second Life, Hipihi users will own the property rights to their in-world creations.
- - There will also be a in-world currency, implying a virtual economy to facilitate user-to-user transactions. Perhaps the first and Chinese-originated millionaire in Second Life, Anshe Chung, has made virtual world creators think Chinese are the best market for such a product?
Kaiser Kuo, who is accredited for this post, has the following thoughts:
My gut tells me that done right, this could be quite substantial in China, and might have more legs than its U.S. counterpart. For one thing, MMORPG culture is pretty deeply embedded among Chinese netizens, and many players are very used to “repatriating” currency earned in the in-game economy to real life. HiPiHi seems to have made dumbed-down object creation tools available while keeping more advanced options available to the more proficient–don’t quote me on that, I’ve not really played around with it yet.
There’s a definite feminine sensibility to the pitch video, which you can download (.wmv) here: a female narrator and avatar, emphasis on the outfits, the landscaping, the houses. Going after women is probably the right move: there are plenty of online gamers in China, but few of the hack-and-slash MMORPGs really work for women.
The promotional video done by Hipihi is available below. Again, its all narrated in Chinese but it being visual-based video, is self-explanatory enough.
Editor’s Note: The article is reproduced from Bjorn’s website.