Skyrates is a browser based massively multiplayer online game with a focus on sporadic play in a persistent world. It is currently in open beta. The development team was initially composed of students from the Entertainment Technology Center at Carnegie Mellon University. The game allows players choose an anthropomorphic character and purchase a variety of aircraft to fly to different areas called Skylands, taking part in combat and trading as they do so. There are currently over 19,500 registered characters as of October 2012, and there are generally between 30 and 200 people online at any one time.
Players in Skyrates progress through the game mostly through purchase of planes, upgrades and guns for their planes. Players may compare their progress via leaderboards, or a system to search players based on their various stats. As it is in development Skyrates often resets all player's progress with a new version whenever the game has changed substantially. Skyrates is currently version 2.7, the last version update having occurred February 2012.
Inspired in part by TaleSpin, a 1990s-era Disney cartoon series, Skyrates is set in a world recovering from an apocalyptic war which reduced the remaining viable landmass to a collection of scattered islands. Ripped from the ground and cast adrift in the sky through the use of "unobtainium", these Skylands carried with them the last remnants of civilization. Now split into several color-coded factions, the descendants of these survivors travel and trade between the Skylands and are preyed upon en route by air pirates operating from smaller, unmapped "skylets".
On 20 February 2008, during the 2008 Independent Games Festival, Skyrates was named "First Runner-up" in the Gleemax Awards sponsored by Wizards of the Coast. The award included a cash prize of $3000.