Second Life's Excess User Inventory Drives Hardcore User Retention (Comment of the Week)
In comments to last week's post about the idea of charging SL users for excess inventory, Lette Ponnier made some very interesting observations spinning off my point that hardcore SLers rarely leave, no matter how angry they get over a new policy or software change, going on to make a contradictory point very much worth reading closely:
"It's very true that every time Linden Lab considers or implements something unpopular, masses of people scream about leaving... and then almost none of them do. In my experience, though, one of the main reasons they don't is, precisely, their inventory.
"Inventory represents the investment of time and money that people have already put into SL. You could go to other grids and put up with their 2007-level technology and content. You could bring some of your friends with you, keep in touch with the rest out-of-world, and make new ones there. If you're a creator, you could even re-upload everything on your new grid that you made for SL. But you'll keep thinking about the thousands of Lindens' worth of damn good stuff still sitting in your stagnant inventory in SL.
"Everything about virtual worlds is transient and transferable. Except inventory."
More on this, and my thoughts on this, after the break:
"Inventory is the hook that keeps us fish flopping on Linden Lab's line. Charging for inventory might not cause them to lose enormous floods of people for that choice alone... but it would be like trimming the barb off of the hook. They would lose one of the primary factors keeping people in SL after they flail their arms and rant and threaten to leave for all the other reasons that crop up.
"The more inventory people have, the more firmly rooted in SL they are.
"It would be unwise for Linden Lab to do anything to inventory that would make it less desirable to accumulate for the same reason they would never intentionally make it easier to export."
Lette Ponnier is very right that excess inventory is probably a major reason longtime SLers stay engaged in the world. For that very reason (and she probably disagrees here), this is exactly why I argue most users would accept a very marginal or easily absorb-able charge for maintaining inventory. But we both agree SLers rarely leave SL, no matter how angry they are at Linden Lab's latest policy move, so even if charging for inventory turned out to be a failed experiment revenue or engagement-wise, it's easy enough to reverse course.
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