Friday, January 27, 2012

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Sim Deathwatch: SL's Hardcore Hard Alley Hits Hard Times

Hard Alley SL Sex

SL tier prices and economic hard times keep hitting hard, even those who are hard: To wit, Hard Alley, a notorious Second Life virtual porn sim that has been popular for years (I recall reading scandalized reports about it as far back as 2006), is in danger of going out of business, Mark "Pixeleen Mistral" McCahill reports on the Alphaville Herald. The owner cites high sim tier ($295 a month) and a decline of renters to defray those costs, problems that are universally hitting the SL economy on all varieties of sims. I doubt it represents a decline in interest for hardcore porn in SL -- about a third of the most popular sims by traffic are Adult-rated.

So what's happening here? Without investigating too deeply (and I'm not hugely het up to have a hard look at Hard Alley) my initial guess is this:

The decline of the retail renters' market is the culprit. In a recent NWN survey, 50% of respondents said they shop in-world less, and use the e-Bay style web-based SL Marketplace more instead. This shift in consumer habits would probably impact sex-themed retailers more than others. In real life, most people aren't comfortable with walking right into a sex shop to buy adult toys (unless it's a place like Good Vibrations), and given an alternative, I bet they'd feel the same discomfort sending their avatars into a virtual sex shop, and instead go shopping on the web.

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Pussycat Catnap

I was just commenting though, on another blog ( http://modemworld.wordpress.com ), from someone having fun exploring, that its great to see some of the new places she and others are finding.

SL is on the move.

SL is not dying per se. Though almost 900 sims (what was the number again?) went poof last year... That's among 32,000 or so, so its what, just under 3%?

A loss of 3% in today's economy might actually be called 'in the green'...

Yes there is a system shock because the 3% is among a certain generation of SL users - the older than 3 years crowd.

By that point tend to view themselves as the heart of SL. When the places they remember die, they speak up about it. They're not as likely to notice newer places, as they've got all the 'landmarks' they think they need and are often done with 'hardcore exploring' - only wandering on random whim days rather than just to 'find anything to do.'

foneco zuzu

And then again, a negative post that really does not have any to do with reality.
How much time do you really spent on Sl last Year Hamlet?

fatladysings

SL is not dying? Ha. Porn has been a big cash cow in SL since at least 2006, as was mentioned. When those businesses start leaving, it's pretty much a good indicator that there is no money to be made.

Add that to the myriad stores closing every other day, via group notices that I receive frequently.

Time to realize that the heyday is pretty much over for SL as it was. Those that know are cutting their losses now and not riding the sinking ship down.

Pussycat Catnap

The above commented, I agree that a shifting market is pricing estate owners out of SL. LLs seems to be intentionally killing off the ways their own customers paid them - by using Marketplace to make shop renting pointless...

BUT, I come to an opposite conclusion vis-a-vis adult content in SL. Unlike RL where there is the intimidation factor, most of this content in SL is 'out there in the open' in how it gets used; the more public the display the more popular the venue or alt-cult.

The 'hiding from the intimidation' happens the moment people log in.

By virtue of having an avatar, people are freeing themselves from the shackles of real-life conformity...
( http://catnapkitty.wordpress.com/2012/01/26/your-birth-cert-name-is-more-fake-than-your-pseudonym/ )
- I see people in SL looking to 'let loose' their inner selves. And often for the adult community side this means "public displays of affection" ;)

Shopping inworld for the products of such lifestyle is almost half the experience. Rezzing into a shop with all kinds of kink going on... Visit some of these locales, and you can see what I refer to... displays are designed to 'entertain that fetish' almost as much as sell to it. And seeing and being seen by the other shoppers is a big part of the experience. Many of the shops are more 'fulfilling of the alt-cult's objectives' than the 'RP / Social venues' the products are aimed at being used in.

Granted I am -not- a purveyor of such material, so I don't know how it shakes out for their sales in well themed shops versus marketplace. I'm just not sold on the notion that they can actually market better on Marketplace. I see it as different than sellers of many other products. But there is also a notable level of marketing savvy required here to make an inworld of such nature appeal - you're not setting up that wood-board covered building down on the corner of shanty and ghetto where the cops don't care to enforce vice laws like you would in RL....
- You're putting up a circus act, and letting your very customers pay you to be the dancing bear.

Ann Otoole InSL

Oh things will get worse. Given the way LL allows people to harass and abuse the SL vampire community I expect SL to be rid of vamps in a couple of years when World of Darkness is delivered. Assuming SL is still running in two years. CCP (Eve Online) merged with White Wolf so that is the quality and scale we can expect with WoD. Why bother with SL scripting issues, astronomic tier, little or no support, and resident abuse when you can be in a full scale tailored Vampire universe? My point is the exodus is going to go beyond tier prices to entire segments of SL leaving. And I doubt LL cares. They seem to be in minimal effort mode for SL while they went off to do non SL things.

Pussycat Catnap

@fatladysings: But the real question is, for every one of these that closes, how many new ones pop up to replace it?

If the answer is 1 for 1 or more, then SL is fine. If its less, then SL is not.

Can't say that I know for sure - but I do see new places pop up all the time. Just haven't done or seen anyone else do a serious effort and comparing the two trends.

Pussycat Catnap

@Ann: In many areas LL is in minimal mode or plain going the wrong way on the freeway. But if you look at what's been going on with graphics streamlining, viewer updating, and so on - they've been very active and intense on the 'backend development' over the last several months.

They're just failing to make this clearly visible to residents. Even though it does affect highly visible things - such as how richly SL will render on the same computers it was loaded on a year ago, if you don't promote that difference people won't attribute it.

(@LLs: ...and if your own graphics people can't use your viewer well enough to know how to set it up for an image on your homepage... people will think SL's graphics are actually going down instead of up...)

The problem with the 'care and feeding' of the Vampire community is a -LOT- of the scorn they get in SL is earned... Bloodlines put a very bad stain on that community, and the well behaving players didn't work enough to get out in front of or stop the Bloodlines folks... You can't just say "I'm not like that" when folks from your hood go shoot up the neighborhood... You need to get out a posse and take em out yourself, before the rest of the world razes the whole ghetto to the ground...
- Its not fair, but that's how perceptions work. Groups always take blame for individuals...

Given how much promotion LLs does for the vampires these days though... they've got nothing to complain about. Other folks could only dream of getting that kind of attention...

Emperor Norton

If you consider Second Life as a game and not some stupid virtual shopping mall a 3% reduction in game content over a year isn't a good thing. People want new experiences, stagnation will cause established players to drift off and it will not attract newer ones. Sooner or later Linden Lab is going to have to do something about the sim stagnation or just give up.

As for Hard Alley, stagnation is likely the real problem. After five years old it's a good chance the admins are just burnt out.


Emperor Norton

@ Ann

Bloodlines players are god moding scum and deserve every second of abuse they get. No other community in SL demands you pay them money to opt out of their role play.

CCP had to put WoD on the back burner because of mass EVE player revolt because CCP was defunding EVE to pay for development of WoD.

Since you claim work in the computer gaming industry I am driving ask do you make shit up like this just to troll?

Metacam Oh

lease a brand new car for 195 a month with 100 left over, or rent a virtual island at 295 a month that cant hold more than 50 people at a time. there is simply no justification for the price paid for a full island.

Pussycat Catnap

@Emperor:
"If you consider Second Life as a game and not some stupid virtual shopping mall a 3% reduction in game content over a year isn't a good thing. People want new experiences,"

Let me say part of that again:

PEOPLE WANT NEW EXPERIENCES.

- The loss of an old sim, under what you said, would be a -good- thing. Clearing up the 'mental space' for some new content.

So it again comes back to the question: How many new places -are- opening up, in relation to how many old ones shutting down?

Ann Otoole InSL

@Emperor Few things to consider. 2014 is a long way off. Corporate mergers have legal and financial obligations. WoD is being developed in Georgia not China/UK/Iceland. CCP is still hiring for WoD. Perhaps your Eve players are simply no longer going to be informed as to the progress of WoD.

Oh and I thought the rules here on NWN were to be civil.

Emperor Peter Norton

"Bloodlines players are god moding scum and deserve every second of abuse they get. No other community in SL demands you pay them money to opt out of their role play. "

The garlic necklace is a freebie. Your argument is invalid.

Pussycat Catnap

@Emperor re Ann:

Ann is, if I recall rightly, in the Goth / Vampire scene. She might be in the BDSM scene, not sure - memory fuzzy there. Point being someone who has a lot of care for the well being of those communities. Near as I know she's never been on the bad side of things in these issues; though I've disagreed with about as many of her comments as I've agreed with.

With what she posted here, the reply given her was uncalled for. Its one thing to disagree with people, its another to go personal.

Pussycat Catnap

Do we have 2 completely different Emperor Norton's posting in here today, or is it just me seeing Emperor Norton replying to Emperor Norton and calling Emperor Norton wrong? :)

Jumpman Lane

I unno, I'm just a Lane but once long ago I made a lil list, and just like Santy Claws I checked it twice! hehehehe

"Pixeleen Mistral: but now Stroker is gone as far as I know
Jumpman Lane: Poland got banned
Pixeleen Mistral: so what is next?
Jumpman Lane: thats the fall part
Jumpman Lane: it ain t over
Jumpman Lane: cheergirl has to be attended to
Pixeleen Mistral: no?
Jumpman Lane: then chelsea malibu
Jumpman Lane: then alfa winger
Jumpman Lane: then hard rust
Jumpman Lane: i aint never stopping"-"Jumpman Lane-The Kang of Second Life" by Pixeleen Mistral, The Alphaville Herald, 9-29-11

http://alphavilleherald.com/2011/09/jumpman-lane-the-kang-of-second-life.html

Jumpman Lane

To Clarify:
Stroker quit, Alfa quit, Hard is exiting stage left, CheerGirl is in hiding and Chelsea is selling lights hehehehe! The Age of Lane is upon us!

Ezra

How unbelieveable. Stagnant high tier prices and Linden Lab competing with tier payers for residential and commercial activity is continuing to lead to more region bleeding? Gasp.

Jumpman Lane

news flash: it's a publicity stunt to promote a pervy auction! beware!

Jumpman Lane

well the perv auction failed! hard alley kept mysteriously crashing and the projected donation goal wasnt reached! heheheheh what will hard rust do next?

Breen Whitman

@Emperor Peter Norton "The garlic necklace is a freebie. Your argument is invalid."

You are invalid.

Thats like Bible bashers comimg to your door each day, but saying "If you drive to our church and pick up the free mailbox sticker from the lobby, we will know not to come in". Who wouldn't be incensed by that "threat".

Ann Otoole InSL

rodvik has not been heard from since the 13th of January. He put on a good show when he arrived. He managed to dupe people into sticking around for pie in the sky. Now all the old defects are coming back. Inventory folder corruption, ghosted avis that prevent accounts from logging in, no support, defects fixes ages ago that have all suddenly returned, LL doesn't care. Clearly LL has abandoned SL. They will leave the lights on as long as people keep giving them money. Smart people already exited or have exit strategies with triggers about to fire. The LL Commerce Team can't deliver. Viewer development is in the hands of open source devs. What does it take to wake people up? It is over.

Carlo Al-Eluria

Hard Alley was old and stale. It has a reputation for newbies who are more interested in jumping on a pose-ball than roleplay.

It is a good question that was asked; how many new sims are opened for each of the old 'classic' sims that close?

foneco zuzu

Adult places are coming and going all times!
The truth is that majority of SL users don't speak English and the death of the inbuilt translators just makes those, unite on sims where all speak the same language!
V3 progress is steady!
Mesh for what was intended, works!
Old bugs can be solved!
But tier prizes, that will make ppl like me move to Os grid, where i can host now 8 regions fully 45000 prim, being god and queen on them!
So i'm just using Sl to do what i cant do on Open sim, meaning right now, Surf, Driving cars and bikes, as for all the rest, i have it already at my Os grid sims!


Jumpman Lane

Well out with the old in with the new I say! Hehehe!

Dave Bell

Hard Alley is based on such things as rape role-play, and the rather misogynistic scenarios generally found in porn.

Other stuff I've seen, including a set of rather shocking statistics from the CDC, suggests that real people, in the real world, are becoming aware of an ugly streak in US culture--is it really true that rape gets a film a less restrictive rating than a scene of consensual sex--and maybe people are having second thoughts.

Hard Alley depend on people choosing to do things in a particular context. The sim is, in a way, the minimal plot for the porn movie the visitors enact, and from what I recall of the place, the animations used are commonplace.

Are people choosing a different context?

Archangel Mortenwold

Regardless of the business, if you're going to sell things in-world, make sure you're also selling on the SL marketplace. This has the benefit of allowing people to rent stalls for in-world selling, and have a presence off-world. Never having had the time, resources, or money to maintain a main store over the long term, I can't say if in-world stores are doomed. But if you're selling things, always have more than one venue for doing it.

Archangel Mortenwold

Emperor Norton (hereon distinguished from Emperor Peter Norton — there ARE people in SL who have similar names, just as in reality), as was pointed out the garlic necklace is a free item. I'm guessing you meant to argue that people who don't want to be bothered with bite requests from Bloodlines players shouldn't have to go through the trouble. That's a legitimate point.

What isn't a legitimate point is attacking all Bloodlines players. I happen to know quite a number of them, and they don't go around biting indiscriminately. The ones who do are usually the n00bs who get excited about being able to play as vampires and don't know any better. They either quickly learn, or get bored and disappear. Unfortunately, the damage they do to Bloodlines' reputation sticks around long after they go. My friends who bought the system for the long term invested in amulets to avoid having to go out daily and bite people, and for serious players who are in it for the long haul, it's worth the money. This way they can recruit others to the game who are truly interested and willing to learn the rules.

One last thing to note about Bloodlines. From what I'm told, you always have the option of turning down bite requests and muting the owners. If that's too much of a hassle for you, well, there's really nothing else I can say.

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