Some news in about Blue Mars. The virtual world was at one time seen as the "Second Life Killer." Then in January 2011 the company behind it, Avatar Reality, changed course to concentrate on a mobile device version. The PC version would be limited from then on to bug fixes. Since then, little news has come from this virtual world. It did get a couple more updates after all, as well as Avatar Reality getting a new CEO (Henk Rogers).
Recently, Ball State University acquired the rights to the virtual world. Ball State's official statement was later taken down, but Tateru Nino described the terms of agreement as "the university will begin to fully operate Blue Mars for non-commercial purposes, expand upon the source code, increase its research and academic initiatives, and enhance the community of Blue Mars. In addition, Ball State will continue to deliver original content on Blue Mars as it has done in the past." The University plans to use Blue Mars for "3D simulation and research projects."
No figures are available yet on what Ball State paid, but the Blue Mars platform is reportedly worth $10 million. Tateru stated Avatar Reality, the company that once challenged Linden Lab, is now down to less than a dozen people. With the platform off their hands, she felt they would be "subsisting on licensing fees, or working on mobile projects."
Ball State and Blue Mars have a history. The University's Ball State's Institute for Digital Intermedia Arts (IDIA) made a number of projects there, such as the Virtual Middletown Project and their simulation of the 1915 World's Fair.
Sources: Tateru Nino, Ball State University, Blue Mars Blog
47 minutes ago