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Tuesday, December 13, 2011

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Eddi Haskell

I do not think this looks bad for inworld merchants at all.

The numbers are a 50 / 50 statistical split between
those who have not changed their inworld shopping patterns or have actually increased them, and those who say that their inworld shopping has patterns have declined.

However, is your survey asking about monies spent or time spent shopping? I spend the same amount inworld, but spend less time shooting from store to store because I am able to find what I want on the marketplace faster, but always try to see something before I purchase it. In addition, I have had problems (several) with purchasing items on SL Exchange, being charged for them, and never getting them. I would rather pick up an item right from a vendor- knowing that the vast majority of merchants are more than happy to send me what I purchased without having the marketplace in the middle.

Missy Restless

As you point out at the onset, this survey is not scientific. The results of this "interesting" survey should not be used to draw any conclusions. Saying stuff like shop owners should consider scaling back on inworld footprint and tier based on the results of this survey is ... well, irresponsible journalism.

There are just so many things wrong with your survey. Start with the fact that you have a sample of 238 residents. This falls horribly short of any statistical significance as to make the results meaningless. You've also surveyed readers of your blog so any conclusions drawn from these numbers would only be something you could say about "NWN Readers" not "Second Life Residents". I could go on.

Let's stick to interesting and lose the editorial axe.

Hamlet Au

Missy, the survey was inspired by a long Prim Perfect post reporting that numerous well-known SL shopping areas were going empty, and that the Marketplace was probably a factor:

http://primperfectblog.wordpress.com/2011/11/06/is-the-marketplace-killing-the-mall/

Like I said, the survey is unscientific, but then, getting thorough, fully rigorous data is probably impossible (outside of Linden Lab, but maybe even they can't really track this info), and shopowners who are losing in-world customers probably need to factor in results like these, admittedly sketchy as they are.

Douglas Story

I answered in the "slightly less" category, but perhaps I should not have. I too am someone who will find an item in the Marketplace, and then go visit the in-world store to purchase it.

Pussycat Catnap

Actually 238 is more than enough for a very valid statistical sample.

Its just that lay-people who've never studied polling have no clue of how sampling works and what a valid sample size is.

238 people, selected properly, would give near perfect data.

But the selection method here is self-selection, which -might- be flawed. the problem is in which way is it flawed.

Its pretty easy to conclude that readers of this blog are more opinionated about factors in SL that many SL users. But its harder to say which way those opinions lie.

Further, it could also be said than many readers here are the 'key people' in social groups whose comments and opinions will shape others far beyond their reach.

I'd recommend taking the results of the survey a lot more seriously than even Hamlet gives it credit for. It -will- set the expectation in SL, even if it was actually wrong presently. But chances are, its dead on.

Which I find sad... as it implies SL really is dying. The more people who shop on Marketplace, the sooner SL dies when the venues we all go to lose the last of their sources of funding...

Eddi Haskell

I would feel comfortable assigning a margin of error to no more than 5% for a 238 sample base used here. I think the results are projectable.

Autumn Teardrop

I think it's a bit hard to interpret.

I put "shops less" because I'm finding more and more shops have closed up in-world and gone marketplace only, or have special MP deals which make me feel ripped off if I buy in-world.

And so I buy less.

If MP didn't exist, I'd likely buy more overall than I do at the moment.

(I don't buy much from marketplace for reasons people have gone into elsewhere.)

Saffia Widdershins

I would still really like to see how many browse the Marketplace and then go inworld to the mainstore to purchase.

Rusalka Writer

Can you also do an editorial about these free premium gifts they keep handing out? Last week when the free sailboat arrived I felt awful for all the sailboat creators out there. One of my avatars' budding businesses was already killed by Linden Homes.

Shug Maitland

I would love to know if the apparent relationship between the adoption of Marketplace by LL and the decline of inworld shops and malls can be statistically shown some how. If there is an actual correlation you have to wonder if the loss of tier is compensated for by LL's cut of sales.

Ezra

Its some very uninteresting cannibalism Linden Lab has accomplished with Marketplace and Linden Homes.

I'd like to think Linden Lab has given some thought into how many Linden Homes equates to a land baron dropping a residential sim due to lack of tenants, and how many new stores on Marketplace equates to a mall shutting down or a commercial region being dropped due to less shoppers and tenants.

I doubt though whoever's calling the shots has considered the fact a lot of those residential and commercial spots Linden Lab competes with now often come attached to all sorts of sims with interesting things to do and see, that suddenly go poof because the owners can't justify the cost when less people showing up and renting.

Less sims are resulting in less things to do, which results in less of a reason to be in Second Life. Linden Lab competing with content creators rather than supporting them serves no good.

This has always been Linden Lab's duality though, one foot in the pool of fervently proclaiming Second Life as a platform for content creators, and the other in overshadowing what content creators do by competing directly.

You have to ask, what are the ultimate intentions of Linden Homes and Marketplace? Is it for every resident to have a premium home? Every store owner to have a Marketplace shop? Where does that leave in-world shopping and tier payers? Seems obviously stupid to me and the very first course Linden Lab needs to make some major reversals on.

foneco zuzu

Ezra, very good review in what is really happening on Sl at this moment!

Arcadia Codesmith

If you can't compete with Linden Homes, you just can't compete. Seriously. They're AWFUL.

I would like them to get a lot bigger, better, and more useful. This is a mechanism for individual subscribers to feed money directly into the development of the game, with no middleman.

Linden Homes isn't much different than the original settlement program, which was suspended because the slumlords were exploiting it to get big blocs of property for next to nothing... and then using their own malfeasence as an argument that the program should be eliminated.

The only issue I have with Marketplace is that it needs to be more tightly integrated with the client, and it ought to have a "try before you buy" option so we can see how clothing and accessories look on our avatars in a preview window.

shockwave yareach

Arcadia: Yes, but Linden Homes are free. What, you think I'm going to pay people to take my stuff? That's really the only way I can outprice Free. And quality isn't an issue with folks who are so new to SL that they can't wear clothes properly or walk around without a cube on their hands. New folks don't know until sometime later that they can have bigger parcels and better homes elsewhere.

My opinion on the Marketplace is that the number of items you have available should be limited to the number of prims the land your magicbox sits on divided by 40 and with 10 free for all. If you pay zip in SL, you can have 10 items in teh marketplace. Need more? Put the box in the land where your store is. Got a 8K parcel for your biz? You can have 46+10 items in your marketplace store. Tada, having land is no longer a sucker bet -- you have to have some to sell lots in the marketplace. You'll have to make it so the marketplace only allows one box per parcel of land, or you could have people renting entire sims to hundreds of people for marketplace use (an entire sim would mean 384 items permitted in marketplace). But that should not be too hard -- simply check ownership of the land at the same time you check land size and refuse to accept data from boxes if land owner != box owner. Simple.

As for Try it before Buy it, this truly needs to be something you do only in the inworld shop. Shopping inworld should be for fullservice and shopping website should be express.

Skylar Smythe

It's hard to buy clothes from Marketplace. I mean there is still an element of wanting to see what it looks like and the quality of the builders other items before making a purchase decision.

When I shop I browse on Marketplace and hope that the merchant has a store so I can teleport in world to check it out. If I like it... I will tell my friends about the store and drop a landmark on them.

But a lot merchants no longer have in world stores. It would be interesting to see some data on the decline of inworld stores in general juxtopposed to those stats.

Shops keep closing. I suppose there is no impetus to keep a store really if you can make your money on Marketplace and pay commission and not tier.

Sad though. I like the in person shopping experience with the girls. It's not a change for the better, but the passing of a charming nuance of our virtual world.

Or maybe I'll just root around my inventory for something to wear. Why should I buy anything new at all? What's the point?

Skylar

Pierre Ceriano


English is not my native language, so I apologize in advance for the torture. The survey presented to us is perhaps not scientific but it has the merit to exist.

The main reason why LL will never do this kind of study is that the MarketPlace is probably an important source of income. Show that this affects the inworld sales will migrate permanently creative. And LL wants the best of both worlds...

An interesting thing would also ask respondents to specify what type of goods they buy more on the Marketplace or the game because I think there are large differences. And it would allow sellers to adapt.

One thing is certain: it will one day adopt a serious and independent statistical tools, and this is the benefit of LL if they want to preserve the confidence of both buyers and sellers.

Ezra

@Arcadia

Kinda hard to compete with Linden Lab.

Linden Lab has the guarded privilege of promoting their residentials on the homepage and Viewer MotDs.

Linden Lab has the ability to provision parcels and accept payments in automated ways not involving LSL intermediaries.

Linden Lab doesn't charge themselves 300 dollars per 256x256 meters of land.

Lets not get in an attitude that Linden Lab deserves to win against their own tier payers if the tier payers can't do better. It'd be one thing if Linden Lab extended the same tools, promotional abilities and costs of operations to their tier payers as the Lab itself enjoys and THEN competed with them, but instead estate ownership and land realty has gone unimproved in very simple ways for years. Same goes for in-world shopping (with the exception of some November L$ transaction LSL functions Kelly Linden thank God has finally rolled out after years of JIRA begging).

How Linden Lab competes is besides the point though. There's nothiing unusual about a platform provider competing with their third parties; be it Microsoft, Windows and Office, or Apple, iOS and iTunes. The difference is though, a platform provider like Microsoft will tell you Office is supposed to crush any other financial and word processing suites. Apple doesn't beat around the bush about iBooks and how it should destroy Kindle despite welcoming Kindle apps.

Linden Lab however hasn't come out and proclaimed they don't want tier payers in the business of residential or commercial plots. It should be crystal clear that this is what Linden Lab thinks as growth of premium subscriptions and Marketplace use can mean no end other than less or no reason to rent from tier payers.

If Linden Lab was honest about their intentions a survey like this wouldn't have to merely guess about the obvious effects of Marketplace, it'd simply be a given as it is to me that Linden Lab's plan is working: Marketplace is prospering and in-world shopping is dying.

Arcadia Codesmith

Oh, I'm very much in favor of phasing out ALL tier and land rentals. The broader industry and social trend is towards free content hosting, and that's going to make tier or rent an impossible sell to the YouTube generation.

I could see having a monthly fee if somebody wanted to sponsor their own custom grid, but not for a standard residential lot. Right now that's a membership perk, but I believe everybody's first login in Second Life should be in their own private, instanced, generously proportioned living space.

Linden Lab has to move aggressively to transition their revenue stream away from tier, in order to remain relevant in an increasingly competitive market. That means the beneficiaries of the current model are going to be tough out of luck. Sorry.

Medhue

Is it the marketplace or a search that has been broken for years now. I say the later. How can any1 shop inworld when they can't find a store that is relevant to their search. I was properly ranked in the top ten for the word animation for 3 years until they changed the inworld search engine. Since then, I've been lucky to make it into the top 50, with dozens and dozens of store ahead of me that are only 512 meter parcels.

Archie L. Mendicant

/me shakes his head.

I used to teach this kind of stuff, and no matter how much we guess at how this might or might not be accurate, the fact is that it's interesting but inaccurate. Unless randomly selected from the entire universe of users (or whatever set you're trying to understand), your data simply cannot be applied to the larger population.

What it does say is that of the 238 readers of this blog who felt motivated to respond to the question, it was about half and half on the key question. That isn't generalizable to the whole population. It is, perhaps, an insight as to the behavior of highly motivated, sophisticated SL users. If that's your target demographic as a retailer, then perhaps the information is useful to you.

BTW, I did not participate in the survey because I'm a one-year-old user. Marketplace has always been there in my SL lifetime, so there's no change to measure. The survey did not consider new-ish users, which make up an important part of the SL retailing public.

These surveys are a waste of time if you want hard data (my old polling prof used to say, "Remember, 'unscientific' equals 'inaccurate.'" However, they are a tried and true method of encouraging user interaction on a blog, so that's why we keep seeing them.

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