By the middle of last year, it was attracting half a million unique
visitors monthly; fast forward to last month, and that number is two
million. It’s not a traditional MMO like World of Warcraft; it’s not a
social game like There; it doesn’t originate from Europe like Habbo Hotel or from Asia like Cyworld. You haven’t heard of it partly because the San Jose company has kept a low profile.
Gaia’s Many Experience Channels
The world is just a conduit to the larger activity on Gaia, says
Sherman: in addition, there are website arenas where users can upload
and rate each other’s artwork and other content (7-10% total activity),
or play multiplayer Flash mini-games with group chat (10-15% total
activity.) The largest cohort of activity (wholly 30%) takes place in
the Gaia forums, and here’s where the truly staggering numbers come in:
Averaging a million posts a day and a billion posts so far, Gaia’s
message boards (with topics running the gamut from pop culture to
politics) is second only to Yahoo in popularity.
Gold for Activity
A unique innovation is the way the company distributes its virtual
gold currency: instead of selling it for real money (as with There) or
allowing its trade on the open market (as with Second Life), Gaians are
automatically given gold for participation: You get gold for posting on
the Forums, for riding events, for uploading content, for exploring the
world. Subscribers are rewarded for engaging in Gaia, in other words—
and the reward incents them to engage in Gaia even more.