An elegy for Crimson Shadows, soon to leave Second Life
Sad news, but not surprising: renowned virtual world experience creator Rezzable is all but leaving Second Life soon. With the exception of Greenies, the UK studio's giant-sized play land, the rest of Rezzable's beautifully realized locations will be gone from Second Life by this month, company CEO Jon Himoff (known as RightAsRain Rimbaud in SL) announced yesterday. Despite a reported 2.5 million avatar visits to Rezzable locations since launching in July 2007, Rimbaud says the company has been unable to turn a profit on the sale of their virtual items, including occasional entrance fees to selected locations.
As regular readers know, Rezzable is a sponsoring partner to this blog, and I count the London crew as friends. But even if that wasn't the case, this would still be personally poignant and disappointing news: I've admired the vision and execution of Rimbaud and his team long before having any financial relationship with them. In any case, Rezzable is not leaving the metaverse, just moving to another district of it; as I mentioned yesterday, the company is actually hiring a developer to help them expand their Heritage Key site running on OpenSimulator, where virtual land costs are much cheaper.
So what is most discomfiting about this move is the questions it raises about the viability of building a small business that caters to and is largely dependent on Second Life's internal economy. As we know, Resident-to-Resident transactions are in aggregate highly active, with well over a $1 million USD in Linden Dollars exchanged daily. However, that figure occludes a more complex reality; take a look at June 2009's spending numbers:
So while some 750,000 or so unique users are logging into Second Life a month, only 465K of them are spending any Linden Dollars -- and less 200K of them are spending $10 or more a month. That's a large enough market to reliably earn a decent income as a one-person content creator. We also know many virtual real estate managers earn an extremely healthy revenue. But is there a market for a business built on providing virtual experiences with the level of ambition Rezzable attempted? Until more Residents spend more Linden Dollars, I think that's far from clear.