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    Virtual Worlds challenged by the Times

    By admin | April 9, 2009

    There is a strong belief by the companies running the most popular virtual worlds,Second Life Image that they can escape the recession and even improve their profits. But even in VW MMO land the recession is starting to bite.  Have you visited a virtual world, like Second life, or Entropia?

    As far as the cyber eye can see profits are tumbling in virtual currencies and real dollars too. Yet there exists a corporate mentality that believes when times are tough more people turn to entertainment. But they forget one important point.  When times are tough COST matters, the only reason people flocked to the movie houses during the big depression was for CHEAP entertainment.

    Quite inexplicably, Second life recently created a cyber riot by doubling the costs of owning an ‘Openspace’ island. This is in a cyber property market that had already crashed through over supply. Talk about how to shoot yourself in the foot!  Since then, residents have been dumping their properties and leaving the Sim. Consequently less and less people are spending money and all the stores that supply the gadgets, clothes and tools are feeling some real world depression… which is kind of funny, since most people seem to use secondlife as an escape from their real world problems!

    Second Life Image
    Picture Supplied by Anizia

    Most people are astounded at the decision. It would seem obvious to even a half brained avatar that the way to make money is to make the experience available to more people than less! At the moment it costs around L$32,000 Linden dollars (approx $120 USD) per month to own an open Sim island! and this is one of the cheaper options they have, with a little over 3,200 prims to use.

    It would seem to me, if you wanted to get people to buy into the game rather than just visit and look, you would make the islands price under at least $10.00 USD a month. Hell, you can get your own full hosting service for $7.50 as month! The argument is about blatant profit, not about smart business or marketing. Disney is making healthy profits on some of its virtual kids worlds because they understand their own market but the new corporate hierarchy at Linden Labs in San Francisco seem lost up their cyber sphincters!

    Second Life Image
    Picture supplied by Anizia

    I spoke to Anizia Jewell who runs her own specialist texture and art supply store called Anizia Graphica in Second Life, in real life she is an animator and fx artist and Second Life is just a hobby.

    Anizia: “I only run my store to pay the costs of owning a little island, I used to make enough to buy clothes and things, but since the costs have virtually doubled, I am barely making enough… It makes me think about if its worth staying here”

    Second Life Image
    Picture supplied by Anizia

    Admin: “But is whether you make money the only reason you go there?”

    Anizia: “No, I meet friends and its a great creative space and its a natural part of my work skills, I like making great textures on SL or RL, but the charges are really high these days and most people only have just So much to spend.”

    We will interview Anizia and her friends in the next article

    It’s important to remember that these worlds have robust internal economies and we’re not talking play money. 100′s of thousands of real dollars change hands every week and many larger shop owners actually make a real life living. Linden labs of course get the largest cut of all with tier fees, classified advertising, upload charges. I might also make it clear that you do not have to spend or buy anything to use Second Life… but its pretty hard to avoid if you want to have any ‘real’ fun!

    Second Life Image
    Picture supplied by Anizia

    If you haven’t visited these worlds, go ahead and give them a try most are free to visit. Secondlife is the master of the universe at this stage and has a legitimate claim to be a true alternative virtual world, rather than just an MMO Console  Game. at SL there is no plot or gameplay, you simply explore, meet, greet, make or buy clothes, create and build your dreams or dance to live streaming music. Flying or teleporting to wherever you want… its a very big world inside those networked  CPU’s! It’s like the real world only um… more colourful, trippier, stranger?

    If you loved playing with your barbi doll when you were little, or love dressing up as a warrior… you’re gonna love the 3D virtual experience. But whether you’ll love the corporate hierarchy that runs these worlds will be another less enjoyable experience all together. Is the next step an open SIM 3d internet? many think this is the future and these are just the first stepping stones. How they get through the difficult economic times ahead will determine if a virtual world has any real legs to stand on in this reality.
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    Topics: Media, Media Arts, Social Issues, Virtual Worlds | 4 Comments »

    4 Responses to “Virtual Worlds challenged by the Times”

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