Wednesday, April 06, 2016

VR Industry Leaders Launch Pro-Diversity Non-Profit SHIIFT

Samsung Gear VR setup

SHIIFT is a new non-profit organization conceived to address a pressing problem with the virtual reality industry: A distinct, near-total dearth of people who are not young white men. As I wrote in the WSJ on Monday, I strongly suspect VR will become a niche of the hardcore gamer niche (i.e. mostly dudes), but its best (only?) chance to grow much beyond that niche is bringing in more women and more people with diverse backgrounds. Fortunately SHIIFT has heavy hitter advisors from Oculus, Valve, and other industry leaders. Read this Medium post from SHIIFT founder Helen Situ, explaining more about this drive:

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Black Desert MMO Sells 400K Copies in One Month

Playing Around

Avatar created by Connie Sec in Black Desert's Character Creator

NWN readers aren't the only folks interested in Black Desert, the Korean-made MMO with impressive avatar customization capabilities. VentureBeat reports:

Korean publisher Daum Games has sold more than 400,000 copies of its Black Desert Online MMO role-playing game after only a month on the market in Europe and North America. The developer brought the fantasy game to the West in March at $30, $50, and $100 pricing tiers, and it has instantly clicked with a large audience. Daum thinks the game will likely even keep growing its momentum moving forward, which is proof that the MMO market can support more than World of Warcraft and an endless pile of free-to-play competitors.

I know many NWNers installed the free avatar customizer -- has anyone gone ahead and grabbed the whole thing? Here's some stunning in-world footage in case you're on the fence:

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Tuesday, April 05, 2016

Why's Linden Lab Discounting Second Life Land? Latest Tyche Report Helps Illustrate Why

Tyche Shepherd SL grid survey

Linden Lab's new offer to lower its monthly land tiers has caused a lot of conversation, and as usual, the latest report from RL statistician and SL land surveyor Tyche Shephard has the data which explains the likely reasons for that move. Here's her March 2016 summary, posted on the SL Universe user forum. Key points are continued decline of monthly revenue from tier payments, down around $5 million+ a year compared with 2013, and strong consolidation among the private "land barons" who now own and control a whopping half of private estate regions:

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Donald Trump Mansion & Campaign Headquarters in Second Life Owned by Literal Anime Character

Trump Second Life anime supporter

I told you about the Second Life recreation of Donald Trump's Florida mansion with a virtual wall last month, and now roving metaverse furry reporter (yes that's an actual thing) Bixyl Shuftan has more to that story: The mansion is owned by SL user JP Laszlo, who as you can see, is an anime character come to virtual life. She also runs a pro-Trump, anime-themed Facebook page, and she's expanding her promotion for Trump in SL:

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Flickr of the Day: Second Life Seeming Like Skyrim

{ In broad daylight }

Trinetty Skytower brings the epic to Tuesdays, with an image graphically on par with the best AAA fantasy games. Credits here, which also reveal the background as famed Chakryn Forest (click here to visit), "with additional Botanical plants and Fanatik landscaping added in studio".

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Monday, April 04, 2016

Second Thoughts on VR Hype: My Opinion Piece in Today's Wall Street Journal

Virtual Second Thoughts on VR Wagner James Au

"Virtual Second Thoughts" is the title of my opinion piece in the Wall Street Journal today (both online and the print edition), pointing out the eerie similarities between the media and investor hype around Second Life during 2006-2008, and the hype hitting virtual reality today:

Leading corporations, organizations and universities came calling. Where the New York Times is now pedaling VR content, Reuters set up a news bureau in Second Life; where advertising agencies now clamor to create VR-based marketing campaigns, American Apparel, NBC, Toyota and others hosted private islands in Second Life. Where executives with Facebook and Google now make grandiose predictions for VR, execs with IBM, Amazon and Dell invested ample time and resources in Second Life.

Longtime SLers know what happened there. As I note in the op-ed, we're seeing VR follow that pattern too:

I see early signs that a similar buyer’s remorse for virtual reality is already emerging. Retailing for around $20, Google Cardboard is often touted as an entry-level VR device that will broadly popularize the technology. However, judging by the Google’s own data, very few people who own Cardboard regularly use it. That New York Times' heavily promoted VR app? Also little used. And on Internet message boards popular with gamers -- presumed to be virtual reality’s first target market -- only a fraction express much enthusiasm for VR.

My final takeaway? Probably no surprise to regular NWN readers, it's this:

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Revenue Stabilization: Linden Lab Lowers Monthly SL Sim Tiers By $25 & $100 (With One-Time Buy-Down Fee)

Clarrice_cinquetti_in_virgin_island

Smart move by Linden Lab, offering owners of Full Islands and/or Homesteads in Second Life grandfathered maintenance rates (after paying a "buy-down" fee):

  • Full Island: One-time buy-down fee: $600
  • Full island grandfathered maintenance fee: $195/month (regularly $295/month)
  • Homestead: One-time buy-down fee: $180
  • Homestead grandfathered maintenance fee: $95/month (regularly $125/month)

Doesn't apply to Skill Gaming Regions or land in the Education and Non-Profit discount program, which was restored in 2013. Still, a pretty good deal for land owners with a fairly stable visitor/revenue base who aren't planning on going away any time soon. (At least over half a year.) This also seems like a bid to make sure Second Life itself doesn't go away any time soon:

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Posted at 12:44 PM | Permalink | Comments (21)

Quarterly Check-In: Are Bitcoin Transactions Growing?

Now that the first quarter of 2016 is over, let's see if daily Bitcoin transactions grew in the last three months:

Bitcoin transactions 2016 Q1

No, no they have not. Bitcoin are still used less than Linden Dollars. But we're still being told "Venture Capitalists Remain High on Bitcoin". Well alrighty, then.

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Posted at 11:40 AM | Permalink | Comments (1)

Top Five New World Notes Posts from Last Week!

Neal Stephenson

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