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Monday, October 08, 2012

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Shug Maitland

These comments go double for the Mainland! Not only is it cheaper to "rent" from a major land baron, LL undercuts mainland pricing with Linden Homes (if you don't mind living in suburbia).
Some kind of repricing is long overdue, if only to encourage in world shops.

Iggy

Monocultures are weak. LL should read Ayesha's post and reconsider their policies.

First they bled the educators, then the shop-keepers, then smaller land owners and roleplay sims that need shops and renters to remain viable.

Though Ayesha makes clear it clear that the problem is not about the Atlas Program, I cannot resist the metaphor:

One day Atlas is gonna shrug.

Then where will Linden Lab be?

Scarp Godenot

Relatively simple to fix this. Just require that anyone who wants to sell on the marketplace has to have an inworld store or some sort, and make a minimum land size requirement. If they are renting from someone make the verification through the land owners.

You can have different tiers of this as well. Example: Premium membership (512) gets you 20 marketplace listings, 1024 gets you 50, 2048 gets you 100. 4096 or bigger gets you unlimited. Something like that.

Definitely fixable......

Dirk Klees

That article brings up memories on a proposal which we've initiated in December 2011, because of the very same topic, the SL Marketplace destroying SL slowly from inside out. Not due to enabling people to have their web-based store, but due to not thinking about the side effects (people abandoning their commercial land and specially since direct delivery, only needing an account to hold the outbox folder for the marketplace.

Basically, every merchant can make money out of nothing now, without investing some of their profit back into the community, without BEING PART of the SL Community. It's the perfect tool for them to suck out money out of SL without any financial risk like every business should have in my opinion. Only businesses who are able to survive with that normal economic risk are really supporting themselves. Everything else, is simply over-flooding the market with items nobody wants. How many items sleep in the marketplace since years unsold, or sold only once every here and then? Why should even Linden Lab be interested in hosting items for years on their marketplace which never sell?

That also takes away incentives for creative people to really get involved into the market, as there is this extreme oversupply of everything; sometimes even completely for free. It gets harder everyday to filter out the good items from the non-sellers. The market needs to be really competitive again for everyone, including a little economic risk for merchants.

In Dec 2011, we've proposed to tie the ability to list items on the marketplace to the amount of land they own in SL (No matter if it's private land, mainland, residential or commercial). The more land someone owns, the more they should be allowed to list on the marketplace. This way, a merchant could either have a private home in SL, an in-world store, a workshop or something else in Second Life. If you want to make profit off of the community, you should participate in it, or at least give something back to it and the inworld-economy.

The proposal can be found here: https://jira.secondlife.com/browse/WEB-4379
(I hope it's still accessible to others, otherwise i can provide screenshots via email)

I totally agree with Ayesha here. Land providers like herself or Lionheart Estate, who really give back to the community by providing events, newbie learning courses, a real environment (All of our sims provide an average of 55% protected land consisting of roads, railroad lines, public water, parks, forests etc), and of course good customer service, we have it much more difficult due to huge land barons undercutting everything, while offering nothing but square cut land. People get used to these prices, and ask us why we don't offer the same pricing level. Same happens when they (not knowing about the grandfathered sim topic) compare our prices with those of grandfathered sims.

The marketplace only inflates this issue even more, into an endless downward spiral, more land standing empty, lowering the prices.
Chances need to be equal again. Merchants can make money out of Second Life without financial risk. Estate owners on the other side, carry the entire risk on their shoulders, since land HAS a real value and HAS a real cost month per month. If the money can't be collected to pay for a sim, Linden Lab will shut it down. Merchants don't face this risk thanks to the out-of-the-inventory marketplace. No payment obligations, full profit to be cashed out, not giving back to the community. This doesn't mean that every merchant operates their business this way. But the situation needs to be described using the extremes, to point out the issue.

Sure, there are people crying out loud when you mention the idea of forcing merchants to own land in order to be able to list items; but on the other side, some people tend to forget that it worked this way, -and only this way- before the marketplace (or xStreet) showed up on the planet. No store in-world, no sales. It was simply as that. And that's how it kinda should be again: No land, no sales from the marketplace.

A real-world economy where everyone takes money out only, is doomed to collapse. Same goes for SL.


Dirk Klees
Lionheart Estate Owner
http://www.lionheartsl.com

Ezra

Opportunity costs matter. Whenever Linden Lab is working on one thing, they aren't working on something else. Marketplace makes shopping easier and everyone has reasons to love it vs. in-world shopping, but imagine how much better in-world shopping would be if Linden Lab spent the money and amount of years they dumped in the XStreet and OnRez acquisitions and building the marketplace site up to the way it is today?

The same thing goes for everything. Anytime Linden Lab announces years of doing something, it means years of neglect for pain areas like actually keeping Second Life a growing, must-use product.

But, these are the choices Linden Lab make. And everyone cheers things like Patterns without considering the opportunity costs of a CEO that has spoken more about Minecraft than the issues in the blog post above.

waitaminutenow

I like that you do not have to purchase land to sell on marketplace. The requirement some are calling for here is unfair. Its a way to remove the middle man (land barons). I should not have to be tethered to a land purchase to be able to sell my goods in SL. The end.

Eleri Ethaniel

I have to disagree with the 'you must own land to be on the marketplace' concept. There have been numerous times where I've not had the real world financial resources to own land. Should I have to keep closing and opening my Marketplace shop, and back and forth, just because LL has created an unsustainable land fees policy?

And really, that is the core of the problem here- land in SL is expensive, and has little RoI for most people. People wouldn't be using the Marketplace exclusively, if having a shop in SL was a realistic financial option for most people.

But, because LL has become dependent on a very small, very lucrative, group of people for the lion's share of their SL income, the rest of us get shafted because there's no room for adjustment.

Masami Kuramoto

Dirk Klees wrote:

Basically, every merchant can make money out of nothing now, without investing some of their profit back into the community, without BEING PART of the SL Community. It's the perfect tool for them to suck out money out of SL without any financial risk like every business should have in my opinion. Only businesses who are able to survive with that normal economic risk are really supporting themselves. Everything else, is simply over-flooding the market with items nobody wants.

Without content creators and their continuous contribution to the SL economy, your parcel flipping business would be dead because virtual land would be worthless. Those merchants owe you nothing; you owe them everything.

Liberty Tesla

Instead of absolutely requiring land ownership to list in Marketplace, maybe Linden Lab should change the vig it charges on Marketplace sales depending on whether the seller owns land (and how much).

Scarp Godenot

The core of the problem being presented here is that Linden Lab needs to make a profit. The current model of how they do that is based primarily on land 'tier'.

Like it or not this is how SL exists. If people abandon their land, the Lab loses money. This is simply unsustainable in the long run.

It's as simple as that really.

Linden Lab needs to keep its income stream. That is just the simple fact of life. Why is this such a difficult concept to understand?

Those who think that everything should be free completely ignore the fact that it takes money, and lots of it, to pay for the expensive network costs, the cost of running servers and the large number of employees who make the virtual world exist.

Any 'solution' to the problems presented by the current state of affairs needs to take this into account.

Anything less than considering that is tantamount to behaving like a spoiled child, crying about what one wants but cannot have......

Harsh but true.

W

@Scarp

You have no idea how hard that would be to implement or manage. And then, what about the existing Marketplace sellers who don't already own land? What are you going to do -- come in and close them down?

waitaminutenow

@Scarp

I hold 3 premium accounts and I sell via marketplace and I stopped owning land in 2010. How is this something for nothing? I pay for my accounts. That is revenue stream also for LL.

You armchair economists are a bit annoying. If LL is losing so much money, why are they implementing these features to make selling without owning any land possible? I'm sure you know, right? /sarcasm.

Alberik Rotaru

The last thing the economy needs is another exercise in rent-seeking. Sl Markpetplace merchants avoid owning land because tier is too high. If you want to increase landownership then lower tier.

The cure to rent-seeking is never more rent-seeking. Enacting one set of special privileges after another merely crates more and more economic distortions and makes it harder and harder for LL to even consider moving to a rational revenue model.

The absurd price of land is what drives all these problems. Cure that and you cure the rest of the problems.

Desmond Shang

If anything, SL Marketplace has done more damage to the SL mainland than any of the estate barons.

Think about it ~ if you were going to have a store for as low as possible and didn't much care where it was, where would you put it? People teleport directly these days.

I'm going to toss some numbers out here... 40% and 5%. Back in the day, even when SLExchange was in existence but not overwhelmingly dominant, I'd estimate that 40% of SL land was commercial. Now? Maybe 5%.

Anecdotal, yes, but consider that my SL income is completely contingent upon being right about such trends. When you rent out land you pay attention. It's business 101: "What do people want, and why?"

The other *disastrous* economic mistake was having a lot of available land due to abandonment, &c. With lots of land out there, what is the point of renting all year round? Nah, just grab some land for a couple months, then ditch it and play Guild Wars! If people decide they only need to play SL after dinner in the cold, dark winter months, that's one way of reducing annual tier by 75%! What's the incentive to hang on year round, if land is overabundant, expensive and has zero equity?

Honestly, I think compared to what could happen, these still are the 'good old days.' Enjoy them :)

Masami Kuramoto

Desmond Shang wrote:

Back in the day, even when SLExchange was in existence but not overwhelmingly dominant, I'd estimate that 40% of SL land was commercial. Now? Maybe 5%.

Content creation is part of the service sector economy. Creators don't sell anything, they merely grant usage rights in exchange for payment.

Land barons grant usage rights in exchange for payment too. However, in the land rental business the payments are recurring, while content is being paid for only once. In order to have recurring payments in the content creation business, creators must invest time, improve their skills, and come up with new ideas again and again.

Land barons on the other hand just sit on the virtual real estate they once got from LL at a discount, and skim off the profit margins from their tenants' payments.

But why do those tenants rent land in the first place? Because of the content they can rez on it, why else?

All those seaside mansions and tiki huts, those castles, those spaceships, they need to be rezzed in order to be useful. Even wearables are useless without places for people to hang out. The more content there is waiting to be rezzed, the more desirable is land ownership in Second Life. You can observe the effects of content scarcity on OpenSim grids.

But with land still being outrageously expensive, even the abundance of content cannot stop the decline of SL. Residents are reducing their consumption of both land and content. And guess whom the land barons are now blaming for that?

They blame the content creators (!) because of their reluctance to erect shops on rented land while waiting for customers that will never come. Land barons demand that content creators not only invest time on creating but also bear a part of the land barons' business risk -- instead of flooding the marketplace with "items that no one wants."

This is truly mind-boggling. Did you guys even spend a minute to think this through?

If content creators had to rent land for shops, of course they would offset the cost by making content more expensive. Some people here seem to have forgotten that every dollar can be spent only once. Ultimately the consumers bear the cost either way, and whatever they spend on content, they cannot spend on land any more. Increasing the amount of commercial land will shrink the amount of private land, unless you manage to grow, either by increasing the amount of spending per customer or by adding more customers. The former won't happen until the real-world economy recovers. The latter won't happen until LL lower their prices considerably.

Increasing the number of in-world shops will achieve nothing. It's like shifting deck chairs on the Titanic.

Archangel Mortenwold

Tie owning a marketplace store to land ownership and you kill off the marketplace as well as the grid. It really is as simple as an across-the-board price cut that will attract new and returning land buyers. The real-world economy is depressed; everyone is feeling the pinch — including all but the biggest land barons. The only real solution is to lower tier prices back down to something more people can pay. Obviously this would require some marketing strategy as well as word of mouth, but it can work.

It really is the price tag, people. Bring it down for everyone and watch people come back. Keep it as high as it is and the steady decline will continue until Linden Lab goes out of business.

CarloAntonio Negulesco

"Sure, there are people crying out loud when you mention the idea of forcing merchants to own land in order to be able to list items; but on the other side, some people tend to forget that it worked this way, -and only this way- before the marketplace (or xStreet) showed up on the planet. No store in-world, no sales. It was simply as that. And that's how it kinda should be again: No land, no sales from the marketplace." - Dirk Klees

Real world brick-and-mortar stores are, and have been for the past 12 years or so, facing the same problem with the advent of the Internet. Amazon, for instance, meant the death of many locally owned book stores, and a few national chains as well. It is easy to see where you are coming from. Forcing residents to pay for land they don't need and won't use just to sell their whoopie cushion on the marketplace is good for you. Not sure who else it would benefit. Certainly would not benefit the bloke selling the whoopie cushion, that's for certain. I'd wager that most marketplace stores do not sell enough in a week to cover any kind of land tier anywhere. But why should that matter? The land barons would get their pound of flesh, and that's what it's really all about.

Now, don't get me wrong, I've nothing against land barons per se. They invest heavily in SL, and they offer land to us low commoners at (for the most part I believe) a pretty low markup. They serve a valuable purpose and provide a valuable service. What I'm against is a policy put into effect to benefit only the land barons - one like forcing people to buy and/or rent land before they can have a marketplace store.

When the folks remove their items from marketplace because the profit does not cover their tier, and the land barons end up once again with lots of empty parcels, they'll be back with the idea that people must own/rent land for some other reason before they can do this or that.

Kinda reminds me of the banks in the US a few years ago. How many land barons does LL believe are "to big to fail"?

shockwave yareach

I've proposed the solution so often that I sound like a stuck record.

Require a "Magic Box V2.0" to be on whatever land your store is on. Said box reports to Marketplace how many square feet the land there is. And you are limited to that number of square feet (divided by 100 and 10 added) items in the marketplace.

You have NO land, you can sell 0 + 10 = 10 items in marketplace.

You have an 8Kparcel, you can sell (8192/100) + 10 = 91 items in marketplace.

Simple. Easy to implement with very little coding change. And most importantly, it's FAIR. Both inworld and Marketplace are necessary for SL and SL is diminished if either dominates.

Arcadia Codesmith

Tying the marketplace to land ownership is like prohibiting you from selling cars unless you also stock horseshoes and buggy whips.

We desperately need a new revenue paradigm for Second Life, not artificial barriers to prop up and protect the old order.

I just bought a floating island in Everquest 2. It cost me about $6 (on sale). It will be there until I die or the game dies, whichever comes first (and I'm not taking any bets). I never have to pay any form of rent, either to Sony Online Entertainment or to any third party.

That's your competition. Beat it or get out.

shockwave yareach

@Arcadia - that's a false analogy. SL requires places to go and venues to visit if you plan to wear any of the clothes you buy on the Marketplace. But said venues, clubs, malls, events, dances, live music, etc, require LAND to host them. Said land costs money every month and the money to sponsor said events comes from selling stuff on that very land, using the event as a draw.

But if you can sell in marketplace without land, you drop the land and all the events you used to sponsor. So SL is turning into a wasteland of abandoned land that well-dressed fashionistas wander aimlessly, hoping in vain that they find something still operational inworld.

There need to be things to do inworld or SL may as well close down today. Both marketplace and inworld stores are necessary; neither is more or less important than the other. But if you have a workable new revenue suggestion for LL, something that would permit people to have events and fun activities without financial loss, let's hear your idea. Anyone can say "do something else" without having a better idea. But without the better idea, no-one can do anything different.

Desmond Shang

I'm not blaming content creators for anything, other than perhaps simply being logical and using a free resource.

That said, that free resource and that paradigm is killing the grid. Once the system makes shop fronts free, and the land market drops to "no scarcity" we get exactly what we see today.

The acid test of what I'm saying is this: it would *still be true* even if there were *no* land resellers.

Yes Masami, even in your dream world where the service provider steals our themed continent businesses and forcibly nationalises them, and exchanges what we do with "file a ticket" ~ you've *still* got the problem. All the merchants and customers are conducting commerce offline!

It was a profound blunder made in the age of trying to "facebook" SL ~ those connexions that created better access to the greater internet drained a huge amount of vitality right out of the grid... people used the bridges into SL to *go the other way*.

Yes, it absolutely matters if merchants are creating on the grid, if their shops are there, if their customers are in those shops. If not, why have a 3d world at all? For the brief time that a customer places their purchase, then goes AFK or logs out to do more shopping? Shopping's a very significant activity ~ or at least it once was, back in 2006. Very social, exploratory, serendipitous... and most of all, not limited by keyword searches. You might even *meet other people* in your travels. Now? Forget it; any sane consumer or merchant will dispense with the grid entirely to get what they want. Yay? laughs...

"Thought it through" indeed... I was a content creator myself and built my first region with the proceeds of my creations. Why did I jump to land? Because I saw what was happening to the content creators (an entirely different horror story for another time).

Here's a world~killer for you: "force all creators and their customers to do their creation and shopping off the platform."

Want to see life, activity and interest? Move commerce, even land and $L sales ON to the grid, not off. This is so incredibly basic it hurts...

Arcadia Codesmith

I miss bookstores.

But I don't miss them so much that I'm going to give up eBooks. Nor am I going to support any half-baked measure banning people from publishing eBooks unless they own a bookstore.

Second Life is in an unsustainable state. The Marketplace is key to a solution, if Linden Lab is bold enough to take that path.

The good news for landowners is, I don't think that the good people of the Lab have the brains or guts necessary to save themselves, so you can all luxeriate in the status quo as it steams ahead towards the iceberg.

Bon voyage.

shockwave yareach

No better idea. I thought not.

Masami Kuramoto

Desmond, even if merchants were required to own land, they would still use the marketplace, and so would their customers. The marketplace was not Linden Lab's idea, and even if they closed it down, some 3rd party would just open another one. Welcome back, SLExchange.

If free shop fronts and cheap land were the actual reasons for SL's decline, then a hefty tax on all sales should instantly cure the grid. If you disagree with that, please explain how your proposal does not resemble a tax. Oh wait, there is one difference indeed: the tax would fill Linden Lab's pockets only, whereas the land requirement for market access would also fill yours.

The problem here is the math. The numbers just don't add up. It's easy to demand that merchants set up "tangible" stores, but where is the extra money supposed to come from? Do you expect these people to produce quality content for free, just so that you can milk your cow a little longer?

CarloAntonio Negulesco

@shockwave yareach
Your proposal is very fair if you are the one who owns the land that a creator is forced to rent. How about going the other way? Why not force land barons to offer a percentage of their land to support consignment stores? Where the land baron gets a certain percentage of each sale from the store that a content creator would be forced to have in-world?

Somehow, I doubt the "force them to buy/rent land" crowd would see that as being fair.

Desmond Shang

1) They have full control over the product. If they choose to make it such that people can't do a web store, it's a serious option.

But... they won't need to! SLExchange wasn't anywhere near so corrosive to the inworld experience, back in the day. Why? Because it wasn't placed front and center, it wasn't endorsed, promoted and integrated, or shown as the One True Way Forward. *That* is what killed the inworld experience for the vast majority of commerce.

2) It isn't the only reason for the grid's decline; that has to do with all sorts of factors, this was just one big huge major mistake among them. "Let's take people out of our very sparsely populated world to do an activity that used to be maybe 30% of all inworld hours... DOH!" Yeah.

3) I'm doing quite ok being a mostly residential continent, Masami! The SL Marketplace, if anything, wreaked its damage on the mainland. Shops were the #1 usage of "less than attractive" land, where the slope, or the neighbours, or the groundcover wasn't up to par. This failure aimed itself mainly at the grid mainland, one barrel of the double barreled shotgun that was SL Marketplace and Linden Homes.

4) Your characterisation on this as a 'tax' is laughable... is the price of bread a 'tax'? Bread must be free, yaaays! Oh, wait, nobody's making bread any more...

To drive this point home to you, and I mean: really let you see it: imagine I don't exist, there's no land resale, no land barons, nothing off the coast of the mainland... and all merchants got a salesfront for FREE, to sell to those hapless suckers the residents, who didn't get their home for free. Hmmm... oddly... the problem still exists! Something like 30% of grid activity *still* not on the grid... and people wonder why it's just not so lively any more... Now what???

Maybe that wasn't clear enough. Let's try this: here you are an independent opensim operator. 100 people get some land, then one day, 30 of them say: "Masami, we are now content creators! You need to TAX those other 70 people over there, the home owners, and make them pay for our "free" web interface, drag them out of world to do business with us, and... oh by the way, here's our land back. We don't need it!"

There's your real tax math, and it's going on *right now*. ALL of us are paying for the merchants to have that 'free' web interface. One that has so many problems even after all these years, up to and including not paying the merchants for their wares.

Sorry, you can't blame the land barons for this one.

DD Ra

Ayesha you have it the spot !

Masami Kuramoto

Desmond Shang wrote:

SLExchange wasn't anywhere near so corrosive to the inworld experience, back in the day. Why? Because it wasn't placed front and center, it wasn't endorsed, promoted and integrated, or shown as the One True Way Forward. *That* is what killed the inworld experience for the vast majority of commerce.

The inworld experience for commerce was killed by dysfunctional inworld search and a severe limit on the number of avatars per region. Successful stores always ran into serious lag issues, and if such a shop was on the mainland, it killed the experience for all its neighbors as well. The absence of shops made mainland more attractive, not less. I can see why that bothers you, Desmond.

Your characterisation on this as a 'tax' is laughable... is the price of bread a 'tax'? Bread must be free, yaaays! Oh, wait, nobody's making bread any more...

If the price of bread doubles because the government requires bakery stores to comply with stupid and costly regulations, that is a de-facto tax.

And if the government requires bakery stores to rent land from the National Association of Land Barons, then it's not only a tax but also a subsidy.

ALL of us are paying for the merchants to have that 'free' web interface.

Your claim that the SL marketplace is "free" to the merchants but subsidized by "all of us" has no base in reality. After LL monopolized web sales, the commission rate went up, not down. Commissions are paid only by those who use the marketplace, not "all of us".

You could indeed consider that a sales tax, but then again, it is still cheaper than running an inworld store. Which brings us back to my question:

Who is going to foot the bill for those mandatory inworld shops that you propose?

Show me the money, Desmond. Where is it?

Masami Kuramoto

Oh, and by the way...

Yes Masami, even in your dream world where the service provider steals our themed continent businesses and forcibly nationalises them

The Lindens can do whatever they want. They can copy your business model in a heartbeat if they so choose. It's their platform.

We can debate whether it would be smart to do so, but terms such as "stealing" or "nationalization" are totally out of place here. Second Life is not a nation but a product, and LL has to figure out ways to make that product appealing to more people. What they are doing now is obviously not working, so it is time to try something new.

SL will never be my "dream world", but I do have a vested interest in its survival, because as long as SL exists, new viewer features (mesh, materials, etc.) will continue to trickle down to OpenSim.

Desmond Shang

I'm not really one to beat something to death, but since you asked for some answers, here they are.

Let's start with this:

>>"Your claim that the SL marketplace is "free" to the merchants but subsidized by "all of us" has no base in reality. After LL monopolized web sales, the commission rate went up, not down. Commissions are paid only by those who use the marketplace, not "all of us".

You could indeed consider that a sales tax, but then again, it is still cheaper than running an inworld store. Which brings us back to my question:

Who is going to foot the bill for those mandatory inworld shops that you propose?

Show me the money, Desmond. Where is it?"


1) Dead wrong about who pays for the marketplace. Are you talking about the $L commissions paying it? The $L that they print on a whim *anyway* and sell? I'll let someone else explain to you why this is a fantasy.

2) Yes, we all pay for SL Marketplace. Money goes into company from all of us, company pays for servers. The only people who don't pay are the total freeloaders, who never spend a cent on anything but just suck down bandwidth, grid uptime, voice and all that. The rest of the people who put money in, cover that.

3) Tired of repeating myself, but *even if I didn't exist* the grid would still be heavily subsidising a marketplace mechanism that kills their own business model.

Let's show you the money! Here's the flow:

a) customer rents land from Linden
b) customer subsidises SL Marketplace with (a)
c) merchant rents no land, uses free service
d) customer pays merchant with $L
e) merchant converts most of the $L to USD
f) linden sees a few $L, shrugs, prints way more
g) merchant cashes out

Yeah there's a USD sales mechanism on SL Marketplace too that almost nobody uses, but that is effectively a customer $L purchase anyway.

This happens *even if nobody resells land*. Yeah, there are cases where merchants still have land, but I know tons who just got fed up a looong time ago, dumped their land, are off playing other games and just cash out once in a while. Yay SL Marketplace!

Even worse, since Linden has a 'no export' policy, active merchants I know develop on "sim on a stick" or something like that, and import that into SL so they can keep their IP.

But, you *did* bring up an important point: the high cost of tier! Yay, we are getting somewhere!

I'm glad you have a vested interest in SL, Masami, even if it's only to sponge off their engineering efforts, paid for by the rest of us. Must be nice.

* * * * *

And yes, copying successful business models and then forcing all the themed estates out of business *would* be stealing. It's exactly like when banana republics invite businesses in to create a successful economy, then turn around and take over all the businesses for the state.

That would be stealing, Masami, and shameful. I understand that you don't see this, but I'll let someone else explain why it's wrong to you.

And whatever you think of me, like it or not, I've done things by the rules, worked very hard, never forced anyone to do anything, and nobody has spent a penny my way without personally wanting to. Something to think about.

ZZ Bottom

London region!
I was there yesterday, a full lot of sims, lots of shops, lots of avatars, no lag!
If that is possible, why not making it even more a reality!
Gaeta, yesterday, traveled on route 7 and 7b, a boring continent, lots of abondone land, lots of lag, why any wants to leave there?
Sansara, 2 days ago, sailed for more then 50 sims, stoped on a club with more then 20 avatars in there, ride a bike for another hour, no lag,no crashes, lovely regions and overal,l an amazing continent to be!
LL can do it easy, improving cross sims and not allowing tlp in bettwen continents that are linkine by land!.
That would force users to travel, increasing how they would see and perceive the world that surronds them!

ZZ Bottom

London region!
I was there yesterday, a full lot of sims, lots of shops, lots of avatars, no lag!
If that is possible, why not making it even more a reality!
Gaeta, yesterday, traveled on route 7 and 7b, a boring continent, lots of abondone land, lots of lag, why any wants to leave there?
Sansara, 2 days ago, sailed for more then 50 sims, stoped on a club with more then 20 avatars in there, ride a bike for another hour, no lag,no crashes, lovely regions and overal,l an amazing continent to be!
LL can do it easy, improving cross sims and not allowing tlp in bettwen continents that are linkine by land!.
That would force users to travel, increasing how they would see and perceive the world that surronds them!

ZZ Bottom

Cause there is no use for land if you are not in World, period!
Be land owned by Land barons, big, small but all with some in commun, they still love Sl.
Markeplace is not to blame, Nor land barons!
LL is, if they keep the path of screwing waht the good they achieve (A bad rollout and a full continent get screwed! Marketplace team not communicating AT ALL! BUT WORST:
Rod, you need to start talking about SL, if not, how can any still have faith on something when its Ceo does not even commment it?

Alberik Rotaru

Desmond

You've argued, as I understand it, that small and medium land barons cannot face equal competition because the Rip van Winkles would leave.

Is it now your position that the Shop van Winkles, who contribute considerably more both to the grid and the economy, can be casually forced to leave and that their departure would not disadvantage the grid as a whole considerably more than the departure of the Rip van Winkles?

The Tier is Too Damn High Party

As a plain vanilla resident I need/want a place fo my own to rez on and fiddle around with building, etc. I *would* own land if it were priced right for me, but since I'm a bit of a broke a$$, in the past I've been happy to rent. With one exception, the owners I rented from were responsive, caring and creative. The only issue was that rents became too high - if RL is anything to go by, even if the cost of tier to the big owners was cut, that wouldn't necessarily translate to lower prices for renters. If tier were lowered, it would have to be low enough to entice an individual like me back to the grid.

As far as marketplace, usually I would link through it to the store inworld because it was more fun to poke around and often I'd find things that weren't listed in marketplace. So I tended to use marketplace more as a directory to places inworld, but probably that type of use is an exception.

ZZ Bottom

Not for me and i think for many that sill use the marketplace as a search engine thst sorts of works better then inworld sucking one!
I only buy things that caot Linden from its shop in world if they have it, and only directly from marketplace if there is not shop and i think its worth!

Desmond Shang

>>"Is it now your position that the Shop van Winkles, who contribute considerably more both to the grid and the economy, can be casually forced to leave and that their departure would not disadvantage the grid as a whole considerably more than the departure of the Rip van Winkles?"

No, honestly I don't think *anyone* will go for the elimination of SL Marketplace at this point. They sort of made their own bed with this, and now have to sleep in it. I don't see any way to pull back 'free' without *major* problems... it's a complete disaster. Say you were an automobile dealer and decided to give away free tires for the life of any car... then you stopped. Keep doing it or quit doing it, you are going to take a rather nasty hit.

So yes, they are a bit stuck, aren't they? It is a bit odd, though... the very company that *had* to end educator's discounts (far better than anything land barons got!) ...still decides that it has plenty of budget to keep SL Marketplace going, no matter how corrosive to the inworld experience. And the product *is* the inworld experience.

Insidious little problem, isn't it?

Yes, I've definite thoughts about what could fix this and a lot else, but it's fairly subtle stuff and is quite outside of the 'web market or money or land' paradigm discussed here. Not the sort of thing I'd put out there for armchair economists, or people who have never run a business to argue with me about.

I'm starting a fourth business since 2001 now ~ the first three being successful; Caledon is the only one of them having to do with SL. One of the first rules in business is "Don't push your expertise on others and fight to be believed, but rather, if you are all that good, just go do it yourself." That goes without saying, doesn't it? I'm a firm believer in this, and that's where my efforts are these days.

Convincing Masami or the Lindens or anyone else... is simply not possible, won't make anyone happy, will take precious hours (and thus money) away from my own kids. Even if I did fix a lot of things and the grid became vibrant, compelling and profitable again my ultimate reward would likely be another large, steaming plate of... criticism. No thanks? grin...

No, for anything to change or get done, it can't come from someone like me. It's got to be their own ideas, their own "won argument." That's human nature. I wish them well.

Desmond Shang

Edit: Carrying on a bit too fast and casually above ~ I'm *sure* the grid is currently profitable, I should have said something like "no longer rapidly shrinking" instead.

What I get for trying to do 3 things at once and reply to a forum also!

Alberik Rotaru

I am not at all unsympathetic to land barons who give something to LL, although I suspect I there are a lot more than Sforzas than Medicis. I am deeply unsympathetic to the idea that anyone gets a subsidy and I do not think the proliferation of shops necessarily enhanced the in world experience a lot.

Every time you set foot in a mall disguised as a club or a ranch or even a beach, you're reminded of how hard it is to keep a region going and how region operators are forced to continually solicit donations to try and make tier. Making every club or beach a mall really does not do a lot for diversity.

The solution is not just lowering tier to sane levels. it is also offering more diverse products. How many years is it since LL offered a new class of sim? How many years is it since LL reviewed its prices?

It is hard to think of highly successful companies that are not interested in offering new products to their core customers and who invest their current pricing structure with the kind of sanctity previously seen only in the unchangeable laws of the Medes and Persians.

'Look on my works, ye mighty and despair!' is not a business model.

Masami Kuramoto

Desmond Shang wrote:

Dead wrong about who pays for the marketplace. Are you talking about the $L commissions paying it? The $L that they print on a whim *anyway* and sell? I'll let someone else explain to you why this is a fantasy.

I guess you also believe that the rent your tenants pay in L$ is a fantasy and that in fact your own money keeps Linden Lab's servers running. Am I right?

The only people who don't pay are the total freeloaders, who never spend a cent on anything but just suck down bandwidth, grid uptime, voice and all that. The rest of the people who put money in, cover that.

Another common misconception. In terms of negative cash flow, land barons and content creators are actually worse than freeloaders.

Let's show you the money! Here's the flow:

a) customer rents land from Linden
b) customer subsidises SL Marketplace with (a)
c) merchant rents no land, uses free service
d) customer pays merchant with $L
e) merchant converts most of the $L to USD
f) linden sees a few $L, shrugs, prints way more
g) merchant cashes out

You are still dodging my question. If we implement your proposal, the merchant will be required to rent land. The rent has to be paid somehow. At this point the merchant has basically two options. The first one: He can pay the rent from the money he earned through item sales. That will reduce his profits. He will cash out less, maybe even operate at a loss. That would remove his incentive to create content. So he will likely choose the second option instead, which is to offset the rental payments by increasing the price of the merchandise. In that case his customers will face two choices: reduce consumption of content (because it's more expensive now) or reduce consumption of land (and spend the money on content instead).

Now here's the rub: no matter which combination you choose, every single one of them will slow down the inworld economy just like a tax would do. You will end up with overall reduced consumption, overall less content, and ultimately: overall fewer reasons to hold land.

Arcadia Codesmith

Bottom line for me is this: companies pay ME to create content. I do not pay companies or third parties to create content, though I will consider reasonable consignment arrangements.

This is true whether "content" is a hair ribbon or an amusement park or a musical performance.

If Second Life or anybody else wants to assess a monthly charge to me to have a creative space... oh, so sorry, I don't NEED you. You're not offering value for my money, you're exploiting my work to add value to your world and charging me for the privilege.

My response to that is not suitable for general audiences.

Adromaw

Creating animosity between content creators that create and supply both land holders and land holder customers will do nothing great for second life. Trying to squeeze second life to hold onto a business model that started in times long before will only squeeze it all the more. Adapting as it adapts and finding new business models and use for land would be more productive. Stores were mostly one dimensional in use and land consumption anyway and consumed too much volume. Better to think outside the box now.

Store owners need to have their places filled with people using products and services… actual infrastructure to meet people and expand connections. People need to know that there’s something beyond the draw distance that’s worth teleporting or walking to.

I don’t see debates built on irony going anywhere though. By not being a premium member to date (thought about changing that a couple of times) I’ve contributed my hard earned money to both content creators and landholders alike.

What I’d like to know is, what are /you going to do to improve SL/ and how are you /not going to make it harder for me to get content/

LL didn't make SL entirely what it is or was, quoted at times being surprised what you all came up with.

I'm holding us responsible.

Every time LL looses a region, so does a user and an owner. It's not just LL loosing regions.

Masami Kuramoto

The content creation business is already hard enough; unlike parcel flipping it involves real work and creativity. When Desmond suggests to make land holdings mandatory for content creators, he is first and foremost peddling his own business interests. Can't blame him for that, but the Lab would be stupid to follow his advice.

Does anyone remember "Nakama"? It was an anime-themed region in SL, built by Neil Protagonist and others. Hamlet featured it here six years ago and pointed out its seamless integration of entertainment and commerce. Every object in the region was also a product for sale. There was literally nothing you couldn't buy.

The end of the story? Nakama is gone. Although the entire region was a shop and pretty much without competition, it could not sustain itself.

Now someone might blame Nakama's failure on the fact that its subject was not mainstream. The same could be said about most of the other regions that were shut down recently, especially those that hosted some form of serious art. But then we have to conclude that SL is not a viable platform for any kind of niche market. If mainstream items are the only type of content that sells in sufficient volume to sustain a business and offset its operational cost, we should not be surprised about two things:

  • loss of content and consumers at the fringe
  • stiffer competition in the center

Both are not healthy for SL. Niche markets are small but many, and if you add them all up, they become relevant. Can Linden Lab afford to lose them?

Desmond Shang

Honestly, now that they have the 'free' marketplace for merchants, the damage is probably done.

I can't stress enough that the corrosive effect of SL Marketplace on the inworld experience /isn't my problem any more/ ~ I lost those merchants years ago, and they aren't coming back.

The problem belongs to all residents now. Your world is dying because of stuff like this. In the "good old days" people did largely have to have inworld shops... and yet the grid thrived and merchants made a *ton* of money. Because the world was compelling.

When it comes to making a world compelling, "making stuff and putting it on a web store" is only a *tiny* fraction of that effort. SL Marketplace killed a lot of SL's vibrancy, Linden Homes did the same.

Instead of Nakama, you've got all the bits and pieces on SL Marketplace instead. Victory!!! Oh, wait... something seems to be missing, and we just can't put our finger on what...

shockwave yareach

What is missing is that I cannot sell $stuff in an inworld store for 100L and keep only 10L for myself (the rest goes to tier) when some scoundrel comes in, runs a copybot, and sells the exact same thing for 30L in Marketplace and cashes it all out of the world rather than paying for land.

Why should I pay for land and lose money? You guys miss my mazes? Go... walk around in the roads or something. Can't afford to entertain the lot of you anymore.

Masami Kuramoto

Desmond Shang wrote:

In the "good old days" people did largely have to have inworld shops... and yet the grid thrived and merchants made a *ton* of money. Because the world was compelling.

In the good old days, Second Life was in a bubble. People would tell you with a perfectly straight face how SL would transform everything: the way we work, the way we learn, the way we do business, the way we consume. How it would become the 3D version of the world wide web. How Linden Lab would be at the center of a revolution. 2006-2007, the snake oil years. A lot of stupid money changed hands during that time. There were virtual casinos, banks, and other scams. There was adult entertainment all over the grid, there were paid escorts, everyone was the CEO of a one-man company.

And yes, there were inworld shops, mostly populated by avatars sitting on camping chairs. That was the "vibrancy" you mentioned.

Second Life was thriving not because shops and malls were awesome social hubs but because people thought the money they spent inworld was a smart investment that would pay back tenfold later. Not too long ago I had a discussion with someone on the official SL forum who still firmly believed that the SL economy could generate value in the sense that the grand total of money cashed out would exceed the total amount of money put into it. Yes, there are people that stupid. But today they prefer to invest in Facebook shares. Second Life is in decline because it is running out of morons.

And now you are saying things like this:

I'm glad you have a vested interest in SL, Masami, even if it's only to sponge off their engineering efforts, paid for by the rest of us. Must be nice.

Let me tell you a thing or two about sponging off engineering efforts, Desmond. The Second Life grid is running on Debian Linux. The Second Life viewer is using code from at least half a dozen open source projects, and the viewer's own source code was released to make it easier for LL to sponge off engineering efforts. Most sculpties and meshes for sale on the grid are made with Blender, another open source project. You are trying to extract money from all this, and now you tell me I'm a leech because I use the SL viewer for OpenSim. See what a hypocrite you are, Desmond?

incidence

I'm late to this comment thread but whatever, here are my two cents.

First off this thread got pretty nasty pretty quick so I feel the need to point out that I don't hate or dislike any group of people. There are bad land owners that scam and rip off people and do nothing, there are also land owners who spend a lot of time trying to help their tenants and run a clean operation, in much the same way that there are great creators who spend weeks of time making great stuff and some real bastards that steal other people's work or otherwise scam people. They are bad people because they are bad people, not because of anything else.

Having gotten that out of the way. There are really 3 types of people in SL, Creators, Land Owners and the Commoners (now before anyone says anything, yes, there is a great deal of cross over and a lot of people are all three but for the purposes of this post please indulge me in a little over-simplification).

I'm a commoner, I don't own land, I rent a small apartment that I pay for with part of my premium member stipend, I don't create anything, when I want something in SL I save my L$ and find someone who has already made the thing I want. So say I find a really cute dress one day on the marketplace. I want to have it so I buy it. I have given something of value, my L$, to someone else in exchange for something the creator values, their time and effort to create the product. I'm happy because I have a cute new dress and the creator is happy because someone bought the dress they worked on and now they have money. So land owners or land barons, what have you brought to this exchange? Nothing. You have brought nothing of value to the exchange so you are entitled to nothing, nothing from me and nothing from the creator.

So now, Happiness, I love my new dress, but wait, Sadness, I don't have any cute shoes to match my new dress. So lets fix that. I've been around a while so I have some favorite shops so I drop by and check out their new stuff, and Happiness I find the best, cutest shoes in the world and they match my dress perfectly so I buy them. Once again I've given something of value to someone else in exchange for something they worked to make; and once again land owners you have brought nothing of value to the exchange and so are entitled to nothing. The store is already paying for their land either in rent or tier and my exchange isn't part of that.

Now here is where things get fun, because now that I have the cute dress and the matching cute shoes so I decide to go somewhere and and show off my new cuteness, but where? Maybe a club? Or a park. Or what about a concert. Yep, that's it and suddenly Land owners you have brought something of value to the exchange, that could be having a club and playing music, or just building a really nice space for me to go and visit. And you are entitled to something of value in exchange for that, but not from the guy that worked to make my cute new dress or the lady that made my new favorite shoes, no, you are entitled to payment from me for my use of your land and the work you put into the place.

The problem isn't that the creators suddenly don't have to pay for store space any more, the problem is that your not able to monetize your guests the way you need to. I in no way mean to imply that monetizing guests is easy or simple, in fact I'll state the exact opposite, it is a damn hard problem, especially in SL, but your not going to get much sympathy from either the commoners or the creators if you just demand that someone else takes a hit just to help you.

I'm going to tell another story, unlike the one above it isn't made up so I could make a point. There is a store run by a really nice lady and her significant other, she makes really nice stuff and charges a fair amount of money in turn. Now what makes this worth talking about is that they had 75% of a mainland sim that they used for their in-world store but they also had a lot of nice places on their land to hang out and visit. I quite like them and what they do but I'm also poor so I can't keep just buying stuff from their store, so instead I donate a little bit when I visit and I have a bit of L$ to spare. My donation is a pittance compared to cost of the land tier but between the store and the money people like me donate the store makes a profit for the owners. Flash back to a few months ago, the store owner found out that the other 25% of the sim was for sale but the guy that owned it was really highballing the price. The owner wanted to buy the land but she didn't have the money on hand so instead she sent a notice to the store group, explaining that the land was for sale and that she wanted to get it so she could expand but she couldn't afford it. She admitted she didn't like asking for money but this time she needed some help. She really got it, I chipped in a little bit and so did a bunch of other people, in less then 12 hours she got enough donations to buy the land and start expanding. I'm not sure how to translate all of that into policy or math but it seems to me that being a good person and offering a nice place for people to be translated into people helping her out and rallying to support her when she need it. So maybe that's worth a shot.

Just my 2 cents.

Adromaw

Well, some land barons go a bit deeper than just hosting a club, and pair people that have creative skill and event planning and other talents that work to build a community together. Generally where they shine through the most is when they're involved in projects.

But yes, it's as much as a mixed bag on either side of the fence. Some barons are spending time and effort on finding out what people want and offering the best fit they can to it.

Pamela

As a creator, I love mesh. But in introducing it LL has further exacerbated the problem described here because now people who have no connection to SL -- have rarely set foot in world -- can simply take things from the internet, import them, and list them on the Marketplace. There is already a flood of it. Give it a little time, and it will dominate the Marketplace. That is simply how a free market works.

There is no way to stop this process, but LL could certainly slow it down by implementing some of the measures mentioned in this article, such as requiring land ownership, or Premium membership, in order to sell on the Marketplace. Why they instead have committed themselves to killing land ownership and with it their most important revenue stream is a complete mystery.

Desmond Shang

>>"You are trying to extract money from all this, and now you tell me I'm a leech because I use the SL viewer for OpenSim. See what a hypocrite you are, Desmond?"

No, it was because you *specifically* needed SL to make a lot of money, so this corporation would keep pouring engineering into something you like. The hypocrisy is that you need rampant expenditure on the main grid more than I do.

Incidentally, I've done a ton of US government research electronics projects in my day, quite a bit of which ended up supporting not only businesses, but the infrastructure that just about all software (open source or not) runs on these days. Open source efforts are a thin film on top of *massive* corporate and government electronics research spending over several decades, plus the sweat of people like me. You are welcome, Masami! Enjoy it.

Masami Kuramoto

Desmond Shang wrote:

No, it was because you *specifically* needed SL to make a lot of money, so this corporation would keep pouring engineering into something you like. The hypocrisy is that you need rampant expenditure on the main grid more than I do.

I put my money where my mouth is. That's not hypocrisy. If SL was something I like, I wouldn't spend money on OpenSim instead. I've always been very specific about what I think is wrong with Linden Lab's version of the grid.

The Lindens have a hard time figuring out why 10,000 people sign up for SL every day -- and then turn their backs towards the platform almost instantly. This is not because of the marketplace, nor is it because of the technology. During the boom period 2006-2007, the platform was much less stable than it is now, yet people got hooked easily. What turns them off so quickly today?

Second Life is failing, and I've offered one possible explanation from my own point of view. As long as the grid is run like a feudal society, I won't spend money on it. These days I won't even log in and suck down bandwidth like a proper freeloader. That's how boring SL has become to me.

In OpenSim I found exactly what I was looking for. I am responsible for my own land. I set it up myself and pay for the hosting. I can grow and shrink it as I wish. I can relocate it at any time, even from one grid to another.

Linden Lab's grid is a plutocracy where social status can be bought. OSGrid is a meritocracy; the absence of inworld currency has an amazing effect on its sense of community. This is where I feel at home, as far as virtual worlds are concerned.

Incidentally, I've done a ton of US government research electronics projects in my day, quite a bit of which ended up supporting not only businesses, but the infrastructure that just about all software (open source or not) runs on these days. Open source efforts are a thin film on top of *massive* corporate and government electronics research spending over several decades, plus the sweat of people like me. You are welcome, Masami! Enjoy it.

Wow, I had no idea that you were behind all that! Thank you so much, Desmond! :D

SayWhat

That's one of the most ridiculously lame ideas I've heard in a while. So, it's my job as a creator to secure the well-being of land barons??? Making us have to PAY for land that just sits there...yea. We might as well go back to horse and buggy times since the cars took over the world and the blacksmith jobs have mostly vanished. Just as much logic. If you're a land baron and you feel you're suffering... utilize your other talents and change virtual careers. The marketplace is the coolest thing in SL since flexi prims and wind light. BTW, I still rent land for my personal virtual home and private sandbox. I can afford that now by NOT having an in world store :)

Ciaran Laval

I'm late to this. The marketplace has undoubtedly damaged the inworld shopping scene and the inworld shopping scene did undoubtdly help to subsidise other ventures.

The missing point here is, the horse has bolted. There's no going back to where we were a few years ago, that model is very much deceased.

Where Linden Lab have twiddled their thumbs, is with regard to finding other ways to generate direct real US dollar income, rather than relying so much on tier.

As someone in the comments points out, the bricks and mortar challenge has already hit our real world high streets, the SL Marketplace creates a virtual world bricks and mortar challenge.

Roleplaying and arts sims can no longer subsidise themselves with store rentals and commission vendors, they need to find ways to generate income in other areas, it's a difficult time.

Linden Lab need to step up to the plate and offer different payment options, for example if a venue is only being used a few days a week, then charge a sim owner on a pro rata basis for the time used, with a little overhead for admin costs of turning the sim off when it's not in use.

Rolladex

Many times people lost business due to their land being sold out from under them inworld.

The SL Market place insures a "Permanent" place for your secondlife business, and we should be thankful for it.

When the costs are too high to play a game and the rewards are too low, why do we want to play?

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