Game Over For UGC Virtual World Developer Metaplace

Metaplace, the virtual worlds development firm founded by former Sony (NYSE: SNE) Online execs, is shutting down. The company’s plan was to make it easy for people to create their own web-based virtual worlds, and then serve as the central hub from where players could access them all. It raised $9.4 million over two rounds of funding with that goal in mind, managing to get the buy-in from new investors Marc Andreessen and Ben Horowitz last October.

But in an e-mail to users, Metaplace explained that its user-generated content (UGC)-based service wasn’t gaining enough traction and would be “closing down” on Jan. 1, 2010 (via CNET).

The company said the current environment required “a strategic shift” for the company, so it is not clear whether its virtual world and game-creation technology will be put to use in a different way. San Diego-based Metaplace was founded in 2006 by Sony Online Entertainment vets Raph Koster and John Donham.