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Action AllStars announced the launch today of its new, free-to-play, browser-based virtual world. Developer Six Degrees Games has partnered with a range of sports leagues, including the NBA and MLB, to feature teams, players, and jerseys for premium subscribers in the sports-themed world. Any user can customize their avatars with basic options, socialize with safe chat or pre-selected messages, and play games and challenges based on real-world stats and sports to earn experience points and tokens. A $5.95/month subscription, though, lets users customize their home turf and cash those tokens in for virtual jerseys and other items.

The world is Flash-based. For some reason, I wasn't able to connect on my PC in either Firefox or IE, but it worked fine on my Mac.

[UPDATE: I spoke with a Six Degrees representative and was told that the company has had some problems with people accessing the virtual world through corporate firewalls or with personal anti-virus software. They're at work on a larger solution, but temporarily disabling Avast! on my Windows XP machine let me log in.]

Once in, I checked out some of the activities. They seem to be mostly casual games with a sports wrapper around them. For example, in basketball there's a rhythm game that dribbles in time with music and a diner game that has you serving up concessions as well as a three-point shooting game.

Action Allstars is unisex, but the emphasis on sports, especially launching with the NBA and MLB, seems to have slant towards boys. That's a market in virtual worlds that hasn't been tapped near to potential, 2
though a lot more worlds are going to be striking at it next year.

Some worlds, like Football Superstars or Interzone Futebol, are heavy on the gameplay elements of actually playing soccer and seem a bit older. Action Allstars, with the cartoony graphics and simpler gameplay is aiming at kids aged 6-14 and seems as much about socializing and building communities in a sports environment as the sports themselves. The addition of licensed teams, players (there's a virtual trading card component as well), and gear goes a long way to cementing that environment.

 “We’re excited to announce our partnership with Six Degrees Games and, specifically, our involvement in ActionAllStars.com to feature official teams, virtual jerseys and players in a new online universe designed for kids,” said Vicky Picca, Senior Vice President, Licensing & Business Affairs, NBA Entertainment. “This partnership will allow us to deliver an authentic NBA experience to fans on a new and exciting platform.”

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