Pocket Gachas, a HUD-based remote delivery system for Second Life's hugely popular gachas, was attracting thousands of users immediately after its launch last year, but in a sign of a shaky or rapidly changing in-game economy, the service just announced its closure:
There is no doubt as well that SL commerce is changing. The boom-boom days are long in the past. While perhaps the top 1% of brands might still be doing fine (though I’m certain not selling what they once were) the new and emerging brands are finding it harder and harder to connect with shoppers. The drastic drop in new users in SL and an inability to retain these avatars has led all of us to this juncture. In some ways we have reached the point where we are just selling sneakers to each other. Or, to better quote the old adage, “delivering pizzas to each other.” Because, really, how many sofas can one own after years in SL? The people at Linden Lab are smart. I am sure they know this as well and are working on solutions. Let’s all hope.
The finale to this perfect storm is that the world of events is becoming saturated to the point of being destructive to one another along with the brands that try to balance doing them. While the old-line events may thrive to a point (I think, again, not like they once did) new ones arise it seems each and every day and SL is starting to feel like a town of 50K people that has built 50 shopping malls. It’s just too much for the current market.
This closure comes despite Pocket Gacha and a related HUD being used by a reported 30,000 unique users transacting over $300,000.00 "DOLLARS…not Linden!" across the service. What Pocket Gacha lead developer Oobleck Allagash tells me suggests a larger economic trend I've also noted elsewhere -- less emphasis on virtual homemaking, and more on Second Life as a social media experience:
"That shopping is being affected, especially in the area of Home and Garden, due to a minimal amount of new users and a lessening interest in creating sim builds," as he puts it. "After all, how many sofas does a 10-year old avatar need? Photography has been a saving grace to a point but at levels nowhere near what we saw a few years ago."
In other words, as more and more of the Second Life experience is shifted to virtual fashion/lifestyle screenshots and video on Flickr and YouTube, there's less need for virtual land, and less need for housewares to furnish that virtual land. All that remains is what's core to the user -- their avatar, and their avatar's appearance (clothes, mesh bodies, poses, etc). On the plus side, Pocket Gacha doesn't need to worry about any upcoming EU gambling regulations that will likely impact virtual world gachas.