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Monday, January 14, 2013


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Pussycat Catnap

Shockwave's been bouncing that idea around in your comments for almost a year now.

Something like it needs to be considered, but I think it needs adjustment.

I propose one of two models:

1: Items sold must be rezzed in world and set to sale in a publicly available location.
1a: unboxed only.
1b: items can be in boxes.
- What gets delivered is the rezzed item. So how you pack it before setting it out, that's what they get.

2: MP no longer sales anything. It simply becomes a search tool. It gives you a slurl to the item when you click the 'get this item' button. If you're logged into SL, it opens your map to that spot.
2a: it not only opens your map, but TPs you there.
2b: If not yet in SL, it opens SL and sets that location as your log in location.

- My ideas solve the land issue, without resorting to any special counting gimmicks. Formulas and counting methods and so own to check how much land you own will just get weird, and end up in a mess of who owns what and how do rentals get handled and so on...

Just have MP used rezzed items, or remove buying... I suspect people would prefer the rezzed items notion. Either of this is more natural.

Solve it by having land be used again... which I think is a better idea than what Shockwave keeps posting.

Pussycat Catnap

(My 1a and 1b are alternatives. While I prefer unboxed only, it is technically impossible... how do you define a box after all... if you say an item with contents, you've just banned the sale of AOs and scripted objects. So 1b... the more viable option.)

My 2a and 2b - those could both be done together.

Pussycat Catnap

The problem, noting the end of Shockwave's post...

Is that LLs thinks its running a virtual sandbox, not a world.

We can see this with Minecra... er... Patterns, and Etch-A-Ske... er Creatorverse.
- Sandboxes.

They successfully made two sandboxes without coupling the world on.

They've been trying to sell a sandbox for 10 years now, but their customers have insisted it was a world.

This is likely the source of nearly ALL tension between LLs and SL's customers...

And they still don't get that SL is not commercially viable as a Sandbox. There is no business model there. Or maybe they do get it... and their solution is to make Minecra.. er Patterns... take over in time.

If they would learn to see SL as a world, it could have another decade of viability.

Juanita Deharo

Great ideas Pussycat and they could work (certainly better than Shockwave's version) but I think the issues are much broader than just Marketplace. LL chose to compete with its customers in many other ways, including Linden homes, LEA, its own themed sims etc.
I agree LL has never seemed tomunderstand what its customer base was buying (except perhaps in the early Rosedale era). I'm not aware of any in depth analysis that could support your, or anyone's, ideas about what users actually want, why they come and why they stay. It all seems to be based on whim or anectdote, as is your world vs. sandbox take. My personal experience is exactly opposite, the sandbox aspects have always seemd what made SL special. Either, or both of us could be right, but noone knows.

Arcadia Codesmith

As in the real world, the old "bricks-and-mortar" paradigm is dying. And as in the real world, if you want to compete with online retail and survive the shake-out, you have to provide a compelling customer experience.

If you can't or won't do that, then no barriers to entry on the Marketplace will save you. It may drive creators away entirely, and creators are the lifeblood of Second Life, not the "deep pockets".

Juanita Deharo

And just as an aside....I've been selling things in SL for 6 years both inworld and online on Xstreet then marketplace and online sales have never matched inworld sales (although, granted, I don't have massive inventory on MP, but product by product this is certainly true, even when both are boxed only). Other factors that have affected sales have been changes in the search engine, gaming of search, and lag.

Shug Maitland

I could not agree with Shockwave more!
This also leads into the LL leadership problem and who should lead the post-Rod era. My vote is for a sociologist with business management experience, maybe an anthropologist too (to better understand the tribal nature of SL society). The LL geeks really need direction based on what is best for SL, not what is new and shiny.

Brookston Holiday

I see a few problems with this idea. It will decrease the amount of content available to consumers. It will drive some sellers to buy land, but will also encourage some sellers to quit. Finally it will entice new marketplaces to emerge.

Just as having fewer "places" to visit in world tends to make Second Life less of a draw, so too would reducing the amount of content available on the marketplace. This might be a good thing in that it tends to filter out "bad" content, it will also diminish the number of niche markets being serviced, who's markets are to small to support creators faced with higher costs. See Figure 1:


Although this will certainly entice some sellers to buy land, there will also be sellers who can't afford the tier. In the end the amount of "land" is far less important than the number of people and we don't know ex ante which way it will go, more land, or more people giving up altogether.

Perhaps the most important point: How long after LL implements this before someone realizes there is a huge amount of cash to be made by starting up the next slexchange/xstreetsl? If it was possible to start it 5 years ago, it is certainly still possible now, especially if LL makes their built in marketplace LESS attractive to sellers.

The miracle of online marketplaces is that it lowers transactions costs to near zero, allowing you to capture the "tails" of the market; niche markets open up that are otherwise unable to be served. With that in mind, I find it a dubious contention that raising transactions costs would be a net benefit. Additionally, LL's advantage in having a more integrated online shopping experience may not be enough to keep out competition if they require land ownership.

Brookston Holiday

Sorry for my poor grammar, I should have proofed it.


It really is extraordinary how not the slightest change can be made to tier because that will immediately cause all and barons and Rip van Winkles to exit Second Life, never to return under any circumstances or for any reason. However artificially raising the costs of Marketplace merchants will have no effect at all.

Some more than faintly silly ideas have been advanced at times, but subsidising the land barons to punish merchants has to be the silliest.

Second Life is dying because the tier is too damn high and because the Lindens and their enablers all stand on the nearest table and scream if you mention that tier is too damn high.

Brookston Holiday

@Alan Agree (provisionally)


Since when is Second Life tribal? lol!?

Dave Lowe (Gaffer)

No. I own no land in SL and sell a few (81) products on Marketplace. The whole reason I sell exclusively on Marketplace is so I won't *need* land. I do not sell many items. I certainly do nto sell enough to make any sort of shop rental much less any tier.

No. Bad idea.

Metacam Oh

This would be a disaster. The problem is not with content creators OWNING land, its with content creators not RENTING land. The only thing you accomplish by forcing people to own land to sell products on Marketplace is giving even more of a cut of the pie back to Linden Lab.

Content creators used to rent cheap shops on sims which helped keep them afloat, unless they invent some way to tally how much land they rent from people this solution is a disaster.

Nalates Urriah

It isn't like people didn't see this coming. Removing the need for a magic box removed the need for land.

Having a search that is lame doesn't help either. Why have land if no one can find it? I used to use search to go shopping for things. I haven't done that for a long time because the search results are so lame.

Pussycat Catnap

I say its a world and not a sandbox from a simple look at what is being sold on MP and inworld, and what populates events. All community items. Be it fashion, music, arts, roleplay - its all about socializing and looking "the part", having your visual self image, when so doing.

Arcadia makes some fundamental flaws in assumptions.

Creators are NOT the lifeblood of SL. Community members are. The community members that buy the goods of same said creators.

And brick and mortar failure is not only not an ideal analogy, but not entirely true either. RL retail is a blend of means of reaching a consumer.

The problem with MP is that it is vampiric - sucking the life out of the very SL it supports. It is short term gain for long term ill.

There is nothing wrong inherently with a model of better search to find products - what it fundamentally does - but it does so in a way that is at the expense of the world it is selling goods for.

Yes, MP is not the be all end all of LLs problems with SL. They do compete in badly thought out ways in a number of areas. Ways meant to give short term gain at long term expense - such as Linden Homes. But just because something isn't the -only- problem does not mean it is not a problem worth looking into.

Pussycat Catnap

@Metacam: Yes, that's why I suggest that instead of basing it on X items per Y amount owned, you simply require boxes or objects be rezzed on public land somewhere. No magic boxes...

Just, MP will sell you an item that is rezzed somewhere in SL. Even if that item is a box containing another item... its still rezzed. So Merchants would then either own or rent land...

From there, once we make land needed again, we can begin to address the many other problems in SL. But first we need to plug a gapping wound in SL's arteries...

Pussycat Catnap

"Second Life is dying because the tier is too damn high and because the Lindens and their enablers all stand on the nearest table and scream if you mention that tier is too damn high."

You can cut tier to zero and people still won't need to land, and so won't get it, leaving an empty SL.

The problem with merchants right now is they are a drain, a "gold sink" on the SL economy. No money circulating anymore - just draining out.

SL economy was healthy when there were several interrelating elements all feeding into and off of each other. Now, there is just a one way arrow pointing to the tap merchants use to take money out of the system.


Tier won't go down; Linden Lab's gods will not speak of it.

One needs no crystal ball to know where this is all headed: most merchants won't need land any longer. In theory, lost tier gets replaced by those ponying up their credit cards for more Linden dollars. We get a smaller world (and server farm), one perhaps still profitable?

When I read comment streams like this one, to loosely quote Borges, I see "Bald men fighting over a comb."

Remember: Linden Lab owns all the combs.

Ayesha Lytton

As a land baron I can personally attest to the precipitous drop in land rentals since Marketplace, particularly commercial land. I've closed all but 2 of my purely commercial rental sims, and the 2 that I have left struggle. I also struggle to get commission based stores on my busy event sims... that's right, people don't even want free space anymore.

It's not right that people are able to sell without contributing to the economy in the form of land rental/ownership. I like the idea of each item a person sells having to be rezzed in-world to appear on Marketplace. I don't think it should necessarily have to be at a public location, though; some very niche merchants may not have the time or energy to put up a store. They could instead rez the items at their residence, or at a friend's home or store. With a setup like that, it's fair to all, no bias towards mainland, or estate, or ownership checks, just a guarantee that someone is paying for the space used.

I also agree that Search is terrible. Not only does it return bad results, it won't even open for a lot of people. My business has improved since Legacy Search was added to Firestorm, because people can actually find me now.

Shug Maitland

Perhaps another route would be to change how MP is monetized. Reduce or eliminate the fee to list items on marketplace, but charge a "delivery fee" on top of the listed price. Then create a way to sell from in world vendors (linking through Market Place) without the fee. This would encourage in world stores and make the customers realize that shopping from MP is not "free"

Desmond Shang

Interesting to see this debate still... I was about to say 'raging' but... it's getting quieter and quieter lately.

The web marketplace serves a few interesting functions, not perhaps obvious but clear enough.

1) Allows access to the market even when people aren't logged in; the 'obvious' reason.

2) Allows for regulation of the $L supply. People forget, if the $L supply balloons too big from Linden selling $L, the $L value crashes... if *that* happens, it will take most or all of the platform with it. The $L 'tax' on item sales through the marketplace acts as a sort of $L sink.

3) Allows for preservation of available content. This is subtle but *major*. Any merchant who leaves their stuff on the marketplace and walks away, or maybe makes a few bucks a month, is enormously leveraged. Consider that it can easily take 20 man years of work to build the content in most MMO's (and I'm vastly lowballing it for some of the big ones). And that work is *expensive*.

To illustrate the last point clearly, in an over~the~top manner: pretend all the super talented creators walked, and pulled their content. What would happen? First thing: average people would be desperate for stuff. Second thing, suddenly the average Joes, who can't seem to make a dime nowadays, will be able to make money again easily. We'll see a new generation of creators, now not having to compete against eight *years* of legacy content. Finally, the major weakness of SL would be revealed: it's 99% based on user content. Without a major hype cycle to drive tens of thousands into the content business again, the average quality of stuff on the grid will fall like a rock. In 2003 that was acceptable; it's now 2013 and not so acceptable.

Naturally I agree with Shockwave on all this, but of course I would... I'm one of those evil, moneymaking land barons. But it's not me bringing it up this time.

And of course tier is too high. But the pre Rodvik policies pretty much painted them into a corner. Someone small like me, the grid could throw off tomorrow and life would carry on. But if the big barons shut down, SL is going to take a *major* hit in all ways financial, social, and in the press. "Too big to fail" was built in a long time ago.

Ultimately, I think, there will be a day of reckoning when it comes to tier. But I doubt that day is today. Consider that the gaming industry, both video games *and* gambling, has been way 'off' in 2012, globally. Over 10% easily. If anything, SL is pacing the industry at large.

Of greater concern is its place in the world. AOL was once a big deal, and the place to be for those into it. It wasn't destroyed by a bigger, badder AOL competitor. Rather, technology passed it by.

Pierre Ceriano

I am very glad to see that awareness is still alive. Many people continue to deny that the decline in regions is partly due to the anarchic development of MarketPlace. Reflected in the current topic, initiated by Shab Aelberts on the forum of Second Life : [http://community.secondlife.com/t5/General-Discussion-Forum/General-problem-on-SL-in-world/td-p/1809841]

I am far from denigrating the Marketplace, which is a powerful and successful tool, but also allows unscrupulous merchants to make money without investing economically on the game (having a shop for example).

I have read many good ideas in the previous comments and I take note. I will submit all this to my creative friends. I intend to lead a force of proposal and submit our ideas to the LL. If this movement already exists, thank you for informing me.

From my side, my idea is simple : NO SHOP INGAME = NO MARKETPLACE or ONE FILE (on the MP) = ONE VENDOR BOX inworld. The technology existed, it was called MagicBox, we just have to improve and adapt it.

Warm regards
Pierre Ceriano

AmyNevilly Resident

Your all missing the point entirely.

Land BUBBLE occurred in 2008-9, which some land barons made big money from.

Land bubble has burst and there is an excess of land which needs to be contracted. This is simply a natural thing for SL.

Eventually the content (which marketplace merchants provide) will grow to a point where the number of lands is sustainable and we can enjoy sustainable land growth again.

You're talking about PRICE CONTROLS to REINSTALL the land bubble......this is a terrible idea...

Masami Kuramoto

So you are suggesting to limit access to the web marketplace, hoping that merchants will cash out less and transfer more of their earnings to Linden Lab instead. In other words, you are suggesting a business tax.

As usual, I have to ask the question: Who's gonna pay for it?

Do you honestly believe you can make people work and spend more by raising taxes?

Did you consider that all land is ultimately paid for by consumers, regardless of who owns it and how it is used? Did you consider that a merchant's land makes their merchandise more expensive? Did you consider that expensive merchandise limits a consumer's ability to consume either land or merchandise because each consumer dollar can be spent only once? Did you consider that the whole thing is a zero-sum game?


This proposal is, literally, an exercise in rent-seeking, pure and simple. It is a subsidy to land barons, pure and simple. Land barons already receive large subsidies from the differential prices charged under various grandfathering arrangements. Those subsidies are not enough to enable them to provide land at a price that expands the grid.

What would make these subsidies any different and if, as Desmond rightly says, LL painted themselves into a corner before Rodvik came along, how does shrinking that corner help?

Qie Niangao

It's too late to fix this with simple market forces by raising the commission on Marketplace sales to 30%, more like parity with land-based sales (and with app stores). Merchants would think it the end of the world.

Such an approach is zero-sum anyway, as is the simplistic "must own land to sell on Marketplace" rule. Neither gain any of the potential synergy between in-world and Marketplace sales, were the platforms unified.

In an integrated commerce approach, Marketplace-only sales would still be possible, but would lose the benefits of integration.

The first and most obvious integration is Search. There's no reason that the corpus for Marketplace and that for in-world are completely disjoint. (Also, neither one is worth a bucket of warm spit, so there's nothing of value lost by replacing them both at the same time.)

And that's saying nothing about merged analytics. Wouldn't it be nice, for example, to know which web shoppers view the world with deferred rendering? Or reach an item with a particular search term, whether in-world or on the web? (Except even basic web analytics aren't available now. Warm spit wins again.)

Another point of integration is the "See Item in Second Life" link in Marketplace -- but not by merely pushing a viewer to the link. We don't need a full browser-based viewer to display a 3D view and basic interaction with in-world content.

That latter integration is needed not merely to motivate Marketplace sellers to have an in-world presence; it's necessary to keep Marketplace viable for (near) future products. With Materials, 2-D images may be effective advertising but won't suffice for informed buying decisions. When Marketplace listings use a YouTube link to properly show the product, it's painfully clear that an opportunity is missed.

There are no doubt many other ways in-world and Marketplace commerce could help each other. If only there were a Linden in the right role more interested in opportunities than excuses.

cube republic

This is stupid, firstly loads of people rent land from private individuals, secondly SL land is way OVERPRICED

Max March

Marketplace was always a bad idea from day one -- at least for sim owners.

I never understood why Linden Lab bought OnRez and SLEX. As third-party services, they were always niche offerings, which was their rightful role.

As an integrated part of the service, Marketplace has ALWAYS competed with the inworld experience. They killed their own value proposition for shopping virtually.

elizabeth (16)

Merchant accounts. in the bundle you get:

marketplace shop + tier + uploads + adverts

linden equate inworld shops with tiers. not parcels or prims

elizabeth (16)

how you going to enforce the shockwave plan if not by tiers?

how do you remove stuff from the marketplace shop if they dont pay their private rents or even have a private rental?

which stuff do you automagic remove from the marketplace shop if they downsize their shop lands?

what happens if they move from one estate to another? do they have to close their marketplace shop until they get their new inworld shop setup?

what happens if they take 2 or 3 weeks out to rebuild their shop sim?

and on and on

gets pretty messy to enforce when start think about the use cases

elizabeth (16)

if i am paying tiers then on what basis would i be forced to have a inworld shop?

why cant i use my tiers for a workshop only. or a home even?

from linden pov i think they would agree with me on this. i already paid them tiers

Bouncer Criss

@ Amy You hit it perfectly

To say the Marketplace was a bad idea is ridiculous. In-World store and MP go hand and hand. In-World search has always sucked, and trying to find specific ideas with search is a joke.

IMO a marketplace only store isn't making any impact on the economy, or the demise of land. The RL world economy has had a huge affect on how SLers spend their money. Pay RL bills, or own a sim... no brainer.


The harder you tighten your grip, the more merchants will slip through your fingers.

Land use needs more use cases of interest and economic value rather than just bleeding shackles.

That's not going to be solved over night thinking of how many ways you can punish each other.


If a business model is not viable, trying to force people to use it is, frankly, lunacy. It may very well be true that the market place has eaten into the land market, but I'll argue that replacing inworld strip-malls with an easily browsable catalogue is the right thing to do for the future of the platform.

We need to turn this entirely the other way around. Land should be *interesting*, something you *want*, rather than something you're forced to pay a 3rd party land baron for just to be allowed to do something else entirely.

We need better ways to make themed areas without having a single person shell out and be economically liable for the entire area. We need direct inworld demos of the marketplace items, both so merchants can make impressive, dynamic display (keyed directly to the search functionality on the web), and so you can test the builds on the landscape you want it for. We need to use each part of the whole ecosystem for what it is best for; not to saddle one with a handicap to subsidize the other.

CronoCloud Creeggan

Simply put, Shockwave's idea is unworkable and untenable

The formula he uses is just plain not feasible. It would restrict a full region owner to 728 items on Marketplace. I know a hairmaker that has over 4500! You'd have a designer revolt if something like that was ever even hinted at being planned.

I can remember a time when people were lambasting LL for not creating Marketplace in the first place, saying how good an idea it was...and cheering when LL bought OnRez and Slex and made it "official"

Marketplace exists to make the shoppers and designers happy, and they pretty much are. Small designers without large sales don't have to have a negative bottom line to have a store, and don't have to worry about a land baron shutting down or being on a laggy region, or the land baron being mostly absent or not providing additional services ( like say...an actual community).

Shoppers like Marketplace because they can shop while not logged into SL or even while they're in SL doing something else. It also means they don't have to deal with laggy or badly designed stores. Win Win for shoppers and designers....and frankly there are more of "US" (designers/creators and shoppers) than ebil land barons.

This whole idea is to try to turn back the clock of change, to "force" commercial rentals on creators to benefit small or large ebil land barons and recreate the land bubble. Rather than trying to turn back the clock....adapt. if commercial rentals aren't viable, don't offer them, do residential/social space rentals. Form themed communities invested in their social spaces...that's how you survive.

As for search... we had a search that did everything the people in this thread wanted...however OTHER people didn't like it (including some "influencers"), and caused a big ruckus, remember? Sheep search I believe it was colloquially called... loved it. Then LL changed the search back to the sucky search we have today. So SL users have no one to blame but ourselves on the problems with search.

Arcadia Codesmith

"Arcadia makes some fundamental flaws in assumptions."

The most restrained response I can formulate to that statement is that it is... unlikely.

Communities are central to virtual worlds, but communities crystalize around content. And content unifies disparate individuals and groups into a discrete entity. It's the blood -- it courses through and nourishes the entire body.

In the vast majority of virtual worlds, content is created exclusively or primarily by the creators of the world. In a model like that of Second Life, where content creation is predominantly in the hands of the users, it behooves the company to focus tightly on empowering creators. They generate the primary draws to recruit and retain users.

Disempowering creators, by making their ability to sell contingent upon a dependency on landlords, is precisely the wrong direction to take.

Max T

I'm decisively in the "no to this idea" camp. I even have more fundamental objections:

The existence of Marketplace is not the problem. The problem was that Marketplace didn't exist, and that it was necessary to own an in-world store for for many years.

The commercial connection between content and land has always been fully artificial. Surely, land is a requirement for engaging with the content you own. But what has engaging with content to do with selling content? Nothing.

For many content creators, the requirement to have an in-world store in order to sell their virtual content was simply a forced redistribution of income from content creators to land owners (and Linden Lab).

Landowners enjoyed this excess income for many years until Marketplace finally corrected this redistribution.

Shockwave’s idea to tie content and land back together means nothing but taking away profit of content creators again and giving this money back to land owners.

I entirely fail to see how lowering the incentives for content creators to create content and higher profit margins on land make SL a more interesting and engaging place.

ZZ Bottom

Make permium membership have more m2 avaiable by tier level, make more auctions and make more regions adult!


This idea would kill content creation even more than mesh did. I never saw so much content disappear than at the point where mesh became standard in the SL fashion. Landownership as condition to sell stuff (in adequate numbers and 'colors') would mean the next big cut to content.
SL is in a dead end, and i fear all that wont turn it around.
(Most ironically i think the only thing that could, is to turn SL back to 2005, to even pre-sculpty)

Pussycat Catnap

"I don't think it should necessarily have to be at a public location, though; some very niche merchants may not have the time or energy to put up a store. They could instead rez the items at their residence, or at a friend's home or store. With a setup like that, it's fair to all, no bias towards mainland, or estate, or ownership checks, just a guarantee that someone is paying for the space used."

It would all end up in Linden Homes.

BY making it publicly available, you force merchants to be able to market themselves. People will be able to still shop them inworld if so desiring, and they will be 'exposed' for what they look like. Consumers will get more picky over quality when more of them use the option to check it inworld first - and product will go up. Competition in that environment will favor the merchants who are more skilled and presenting their goods.

Forcing the items to be somewhere anyone can visit - a spot with no banlines (a normal parcel, you could still have a ban list to keep out problem people, just not a global ban list), and a place where selling is allowed (no linden homes) - keeps a check on people.

Selling -SHOULD- take some effort. Putting requirements on merchants helps product a better market. We do need to start weeding out the people who come to SL just because they read a get rich quick scheme and dump a lot of stolen crap on the market.

Metacam Oh

Let's be frank, we know the real solution, and it's to completely turn this business model on its head. They are charging customers not by the modern usage model, they charge everyone a lump fee. Your empty island with no visitors cost as much as a 15,000 prim sim with 60 people constantly using it.

They also limit the amount of prims per sim with no deciphering the amount of space/bandwidth between prims. You are limited to a 256x256 parcel of virtual space, which seemingly defeats one of the greatest things about virtual worlds, which is removing boundaries. Virtual land is not a commodity like real land, it's limitless and should be treated as such.

Inventory takes up space but you are not charged for inventory. There could be 10,000+ free accounts with unlimited inventory that others are paying the freight for.

The Marketplace is useful, and is a necessary evil if we are going to limit SL's potential to the closed walls of SL. Trying to figure out how to get more people to pick land up by getting rid of it or finding a solution is just putting a band-aid on a crack on the Hoover Dam.

Linden Lab has the choice to make some painful decisions that would hurt the immediate profit but set SL up for another stage of it's being, that in which they start allowing the layman to host their own grids for a fee or allow people to keep hosting with them. Instead of 295 a month they can charge a smaller connection fee to the SL grid or what have you. Linden Lab has the opportunity to open up the walls and still have it all take place under the Linden Dollar currency, which is really what their business model should be focused on. Instead of putting the walls up and squeezing the dying cow, they can open up the walls and essentially be the paypal taking a small percent of what potentially could be a ginormous market.

There is no scenario in which the current system somehow regains traction and works out well. So they are either waiting until all that they've built is on the verge of dying to make a change or they've just committed to the death and decided to milk the last remaining moments.

Pussycat Catnap

This is stupid, firstly loads of people rent land from private individuals,

Actually, they don't.

And that's the problem...

That's why sims are closing left and right.

Pussycat Catnap

how you going to enforce the shockwave plan if not by tiers?

how do you remove stuff from the marketplace shop if they dont pay their private rents or even have a private rental?

See my plan instead - handles all of that on its own.

Eclectic Wingtips

I am one of those horrible EVIL merchants that DARES to make some money off SL and cash it out. It is so awful of me to make money of the hours of hard work I do....

I actually own land and own an inworld store and I think that owning land is a benefit not only to me, but to the grid as a whole as it builds the community. But im in a position where owning land is part of an overal business plan which is profitable.

When I started making content I was not in that position and I could not afford to hold significant amounts of land (I was lucky to have a friend who helped).

Tying the number of items a person can have on the MP to the land they own stifles creativity and wont have people buying more land, they will just reduce the number of items they create. People already own the land they can afford.

ZZ Bottom

Sl still has an advantage that seems nobody really listens to!
Tehy still allow some freedom and privacy and for sure they are not delivering its users to dictatorial regimes to be killed or abused!
So as long as they keep that line steady, no complains will make it go away!
Fredoom has a price, i think many in the rest of the world are willing to pay to keep having it!

Ciaran Laval

Interesting comments. There's no doubt that the marketplace eats into land ownership, it was always going to once LL got their hands on it and intergrated it further into the Second Life experience, with links in the viewer to boot.

The knock on effect is that entertainment ventures, art ventures, roleplay ventures, which subsidised the high tier fees with renals or affiliate vendors, are struggling to do so.

People are painting this as land barons v merchants, but it's not, it's a community issue.

The marketplace offers merchants a great platform for selling their wares, it's low cost entry, if only roleplaying sims, art ventures and entertainment venues had such a low cost venture to further their aims.

The Marketplace debate covers the real issue, which is that the tier is too damn high, but until LL can realise alternative revenue streams, the tier issue isn't going to go away.

One trick being missed though is that of getting inworld vendors into the marketplace, if marketplace is the preferred shopping method, then allowing inworld items to be found there, goes some way to providing better coverage for inworld merchants.


Eddi Haskell

I am opposed to any move like this. All it will do is reduce the number of items being sold on the marketplace if implemented.

This is a tax on sellers, and ultimately buyers, since sellers will need to raise prices to stay in business.

Linden Lab simply will not cut the cost of land rental since, in their minds, it will reduce the amount of "milk" the cash cow produces. Any counter logic that shows that reducing the cost of land usage will increase the number of users in Second Life will fall on deaf ears unless Virtual Worlds as a category become "hot" again.


"The problem with merchants right now is they are a drain, a "gold sink" on the SL economy. No money circulating anymore - just draining out."

Right... quite a bleak it would be if you were in charge. No merchants = no content = no reason to visit anything in SL.

Merchants are not the problem. The problem is with the exorbitant price of land in SL, the unwillingness of LL to open grid hosting to other providers, terrible search functionality, no willingness to try out a "merchant" account classification, no web based interface for the mobile/iPad user demographic, and so on and so on.

BTW, many of us "merchants" also own sims. Do you?

Brenda Archer

OP: are you trying to kill off Second Life for good?

Why should the merchants be the ones that are obligated to maintain the land market? Shouldn't that be done by the customers who buy products and hold tier so that they can create experiences in world?

Putting this burden on the merchants is exactly backwards. SL could not exist without the merchants, because most residents are unable to build for themselves at a level that would entice them to stay in SL.

Because LL benefits from the labor of the merchants, it has been able to survive without an art department of its own.

If you cull the merchants you will also cull the landowners and renters who still able and willing to spend money in SL. I cannot think of a faster way to shrink SL to nothing.

Imnotgoing Sideways

Way to try to take us two steps back. (=_=)

It wasn't long ago that sellers did need land to support their magic boxes. Now we take a step forward and make it possible for creative people to... CREATE!? How dare we! (>_<)

Don't get me wrong. I'm a consumer whore land owner with a bunch of sqm under my feet and I do little more than plonk odd houses and the occasional dime-store of the cruddy stuff I make. But, if the technology allows me to place my creations up for sale on a web site, why not? Inworld stores are an accessory to a luxury. Creative people are a rare breed. Land owners can be anyone with an extra buck. It would be a painful loss to see SL taken over by people that have more money than brains. (=_=)

Desmond Shang

Metacam and Ciaran nailed it.

Particuarly Metacam, here: "Inventory takes up space but you are not charged for inventory. There could be 10,000+ free accounts with unlimited inventory that others are paying the freight for."

It's a bit too subtle an understanding for most; I think.

Basically, SL is a vast maze of unspoken subsidies.

Every time someone logs in, buys a bunch of freeware and chats on voice all day, never spending a dime, that gets paid for. With hard currency, by someone.

Now, of course, there are more ways to contribute to the world than with money. A nonspending resident's mere presence can be considered 'content' ~ a compelling reason for other spenders to visit the grid. I have been a merchant and content creator myself for years; putting labour into the grid for reward isn't lost on me.

The problem is that the subsidy structure doesn't make sense any more. Once deployed, marketplace items have *zero* cost to the creator... forever. That's a long time. Contrast that to someone with over 70,000 USD annual fixed fees in place. I don't expect anyone to be an actuary, but seriously... a fixed expense line of *exactly zero* for marketplace merchants makes no sense. Even if land was 100% free and out of the picture, it's basically locked out generations of new merchants. This is why I'm not surprised at seeing old guard merchants so opposed to the marketplace subsidy taken away.

As for me... my estate mostly adapted away from commercial ventures for the most part, a looong time ago. It had to. I'm out of this picture, and it's pretty clear that even if changes were made, anyone with *any* financial sense would just use Premium / Linden Homes or even mainland to offset costs, not estate land. The people that are punished by the marketplace subsidy are largely the little guys, and anyone new. Not so much the land business any more. For us, that ship sailed two years ago.

Incidentally... some of the big content 'fortunes' were made before SL Marketplace came around. Now to make a mint, you need to do all the art and scripting of a top breedable maker ~ basically you need to become nearly a professional content business. Which is great, if you are a business! But not so great for the average person.

What baffles me most, is how people hoping to break into the content business, or grow, are desperate to uphold the very thing that prevents it: the bloat of content still in place by the old guard of creators, and the giant wave of embedded competition that ensures they will be just another drop in the ocean until they too have thousands of items for sale.

That's what a zero fixed cost expense line does. It's about like when a multibillion dollar corporation pays no taxes... the fact that *you* don't pay taxes either, starting out to compete with them, is dwarfed by the advantage they have.

Now, I'm off to make sure Linden gets my 5700 USD + 3.5% this month. I wonder how many zombie~merchants who left SL years ago, will be playing WoW or Skyrim during the same time... though granted, cashing out once a year takes a zombie merchant a good solid five minutes.

Seven Overdrive

How to Stop SL Land Loss: Lower tier and allow the too big to fail, to fail.

Marketplace is convenient, low lag, and easily searchable. Before assigning blame to the Marketplace for the decline in land ownership, consider the effect the real world economic decline combined with the high tiers for land ownership in SL has had. It is my opinion those two things have more to do with the "problem" than the Marketplace does.

The Marketplace didn't make land irrelevant for shoppers in SL. I fill up my land with things I buy from the Marketplace, and it is the cost of tier that keeps me from buying more land and more stuff.

If the land barons can't make it anymore, then they need to shrink or fail. Rigging the system to support their little server space empires will only do more to hurt SL than to help it.

It's already too expensive for many to be freely creative in SL. Adding more barriers will only do more harm than good.


Desmond makes some good points (as usual; he tends to have the numbers to form and back up his opinions). Evening out the subsidizing may well be at least part of the key to the rethinking LL needs to diversify their revenue stream.

This makes a lot more sense to me than trying to force some connection between business models.
I make no secret of never having been fond of the "buy big chunks, slice them up and sell them for a mark-up" land barons. That seems to me an entirely artificial business which shouldn't be necessary in a digital market where you can entirely automatically allocate just the storage/sim space you need, and it mostly reminds me of flash trading.

In turn, I would like to see it being easier to make an actual business out of creating a community. I am not entirely sure how it could be done without having the community manager/owner base the revenue on land, but I feel that the huge outlay and risk for a single person is a major blockade for evolving that part of the inworld experience, even if some (like Des) have managed to go that route. There are hints here and there, with things like, say, LEA and Blake Sea, but those are exceptions rather than the rule, and not fully-fledged business cases.

sirhc deSantis

From Shocks profile as at Jan 16th '13 ( approx 01:00 UTC)

"You can find my store at ( **removed mp link for obvious reasons - search for it** ) There is no inworld store simply because LL makes owning land a sucker's bet nowdays."

Wondered what fuelled the constant harping on this.

CronoCloud Creeggan

it ate my comment, sigh:

Wanted to respond to the points Des mentioned. In the interest of disclosure, I have a plot in Caledon. I like him even if I dsagree with him on some matters.

Des, you bring up the good point of folks using up server resources with inventory and chatting and whatnot, but not contributing financially to L's bottom line. There have been those in the past that were against Free accounts being offered for just that reason. I disagree with those people, in part because those accounts can still buy L$ on the Lindex...which I did before I went premium and still do.

But, what I call the "freebie economy" is a problem. Too many quality freebies. I know of people who "survive" on them...in the old days while there were freebies they didn't look good. To look good you had to shop. It's one of the reason I sometimes say that "FabFree" aka Fabulously Free in SL is the Bane of the Grid. (I still point newbies to it though so I'm contributing to the problem.

I don't see Marketplace as locking out new merchants...I see it as an equalizer. It puts JaneNewbie Resident on the same footing as some oldbie content maker. She doesn't have to subsidize her store in hopes that it won't stay in the red forever, everything she sells above upload costs is profit. And it's easier to find new creators in Marketplace than sometimes in-world. Marketplace search is also an equalizer, in the way the Classifieds in-world are not.

As an example a friend suggested I put something on marketplace so I see how listing and whatnot works.from a creators perspective. Even I have a few things I've made...so I listed them as freebies. I've done absolutely zero promotion....and I've "sold" some.

That's why I believe Marketplace is an equalizer that doesn't favor the entrenched Oldbies all that much.

As for Linden Homes, I don't consider them a competitor to land barons (whether mainland or Island) in any way. They cannot be used for business purposes ....says so when you sign up for one. They are limited to 117 prims...you can't get a bigger one, they use up your standard premium 512 Tier allowance. And they have no sense of community. There are Linden home "community spaces" but they really aren't set up to use by/for the residents. Which is sad really, those nice LH community centers going unused. It's pretty obvious that Linden Homes aren't the boogeyman some think they are, because people aren't lining up to get Premium accounts to get one. Not even the stipend does that. Even paid yearly as $72, the L$300 stipend is only worth $60. Now if you get the L$500 stipend and pay yearly, it's like LL is paying you to be in SL, Stipend and a Linden Home, and enhanced Support, and premium sandboxes/gifts and the ability to own mainland.

I agree that content bloat is an issue, but believe that zombie creators are less of an issue though. Creators that don't create...tend to be....forgotten rather easily. While they may have stuff on marketplace.... they're probably not selling a lot because word of mouth and group notices still matter...new content updates help drive sales.

However, even if Marketplace listings don't need Land, LL DOES take a cut of Marketplace sales of 5% so they aren't exactly Zero Cost.

Metacam Oh

It's funny, while SL isn't growing, it's mainly declining due to non sustainability, not people simply losing interest. People who want to still be owning sims and being paying customers but simply cannot afford the astronomical price of land. A cut in land tier will not put Linden Lab out of business, it will just cut into the current profit. If they are unwilling or incapable of seeing the writing on the wall it is either due to stupidity or greed.

elizabeth (16)

CronoCloud-- "However, even if Marketplace listings don't need Land, LL DOES take a cut of Marketplace sales of 5% so they aren't exactly Zero Cost."

Desmonds point is that the fixed bottom line cost of marketplace is $0

when costs are $0 then prices move to $0. market equilibrium that is

the 5% isnt a cost. when you have no sales then is nothing to pay. is an income tax

if there was a Merchant fixed fee then those whose sales fall below that point over an unsustainable period drop out of the commercial supply equation. market equilibrium again

if linden were to change to anything else then i think will be some minimum fee to sell on marketplace. tiers if you like to compare to inworld

Melissa Yeuxdoux

All this will do is cause sellers to go away--or perhaps technically give away their product while accepting donations, or perhaps creating a group that costs money to join and gives you the option of receiving items--maybe an annual thing. The JoesBitchenClothes2013 group, to be followed next year by the JoesBitchenClothes2014 group, etc.

Nanami, a store that caters to the SL busty community, has chosen to go Marketplace-only, and I'm sure it's because of the expense of tier. Cut them off from the Marketplace, and they may well decide it's not worth it and go away. I hope that doesn't happen; they were among the first to make beautiful clothing for the well-endowed rather than the slutwear that was far more common at the time.

Dominant RL businesses push laws that raise the price of competition; I guess one should expect no different in SL.

Masami Kuramoto

Desmond wrote:

Now, I'm off to make sure Linden gets my 5700 USD + 3.5% this month. I wonder how many zombie~merchants who left SL years ago, will be playing WoW or Skyrim during the same time... though granted, cashing out once a year takes a zombie merchant a good solid five minutes.

You are missing the bigger picture, Desmond. If the Lindens removed the option for zombie merchants to cash out, they would no longer find themselves in a position to demand USD 5700+ per month from zombie land barons like you. And you would no longer be able to pay them that much either.

Zombie content is Linden Lab's most valuable asset. It's the drug that gets injected into inventories and makes people come back again and again for years. Most importantly, it keeps them from considering other worlds.

On the marketplace, zombie content contributes to the illusion that SL is still a rich and diverse environment where anyone can make money. Note that you don't need to log into Linden Lab's world to browse the marketplace. With all its zombie content glory, the SL marketplace is a Potemkin village to attract the get-rich-quick folks.

Even in the form of freebies, zombie content serves an important function: It keeps the freeloaders busy and makes the grid look less empty. Take the zombie content out of the picture and you'll end up with something that looks like OpenSim but is 100 times more expensive.

Gordon Twine

"Even in the form of freebies, zombie content serves an important function: It keeps the freeloaders busy and makes the grid look less empty. Take the zombie content out of the picture and you'll end up with something that looks like OpenSim but is 100 times more expensive."

You mean without the marketplace, SL would look just as cheap as OpenSim? Then we should be really lucky to have the SL marketplace. If I imagine that otherwise half of the sims would look like a Linda Kelly Oar - scary.

And please tell me the OpenSim grid, that offers permanently accessible regions for $2.95 a month. I must have been missing this.


Instead of to nerf or to introduce a malus, that will annoy or discourage a side or another, try to think it in a positive way: a bonus to those merchants who owns or rent a land. A bonus that will encourage them to have an in-world shop.
You can think of many bonuses. Better placement in the search and listings based on the in-world traffic, for example.

Besides that, I agree that is the whole RL economy that is going down. Also I think that there are small merchants who would like to have a 3D shop - even just for the sake of having it or to offer a promotional item for the hunts - it they could afford it.
And in-world shops are still important for furniture, house, vehicle merchants, and so on: their costumers can see the actual goods rezzed in-world, that is much better than any picture and even try them a little (i.e. the poseballs of a sofa). This is an example of what the Marketplace can't offer.

Shockwave Yareach

For those missing a few of the details:

1 - I said repeatedly in my post that land was too expensive.
2 - I'm not an establish business in SL; I'm a smalltimer and Ronin builder who builds/scripts for friends rather than "working" in SL.
3 - I had a store. Now I don't and I put a few things on Marketplace only. How many others are doing the same thing, hmmm? Hint: the island I had my store on, is gone now. (Buccaneer Bay)
4 - I rent about 8K of land on an island today. It is my private dev area and home, and the cash I pay is strictly from my play budget. Thus I'm not a cashout builder, but a cashin citizen.
5 - I love SL and the wonderful people I know inside it. But it is slowly dying, and as the world gets smaller and smaller the die off accelerates. If the people building the neat stuff can't afford it because a) prices are too high and b) their renters and businesses won't pay them for land anymore, then the neat sim owners either have to let their creations die or pay for them from their own pockets.

And as I've repeatedly said, once someone is out several thousand dollars when they have to abandon their property, they and their money will never return. So making people abandone sims guarantees excustomers who tell others about their horrible experiences. It takes 10 times more work to create a new customer than to keep an existing one.

Jeremiah Whitfield

I really don't understand why you are all so worried.
Years ago I read so many stories about SL being a "ghost town" and all this land for sale everywhere.

SL's land mass will shrink, leaving SL a more interesting place to visit with more traffic at the the popular sims with a good revenue model that remain.

elizabeth (16)

once upon a time in SL a person who had a 4096m parcel was seen as a person of substance and eminence even. even when they had no color TV or SL yacht

these days is not enough anymore seems like. even a whole sim dont seem to be enough. need at least 10 seems like. more even. to be a person of substance and eminence

this only costs like $2,950 tiers a month which is peanuts. except when you havent got it. so to be a person of substance SL-style these days seems like then get someone else to pay the tiers for you. like peasant crofters and tenant farmers

is a problem for the SL-style person of substance and eminence when the peasant crofters decide to run away to the land of the free where the streets are paved with gold

is not a problem for the peasant crofters tho. if their world shrink to half the size or less even then they just carry on doing their crofting

same like in the olden days when the SL person of substance and eminence had a 4096m domain

followmeimthe piedpiper

Having read all the above with interest, it seems nobody has mentioned one idea that might help both sides. But before I tell it ,let me say that although perhaps 75% of my sales are via the MP, I will always have and want a presence inworld even if the costs outweigh the profits there. Also some posters here seem to miss the point that all things bought and paid for in the MP are done so with only one thing in mind - i.e. to be able to rezz or wear the item inworld. As for mesh killing new content let me say that things evolve and I wouldn't go back to using prims or sculpties tyvm. Mesh has opened up no end of new possibilities for quality content.
There is a glut on the MP, things placed there years ago by dead accounts. Zombie creators as they've been described. It is hard to find things in search when there is so much dross to wade through first. So.... rather than add an extra financial burden to creators, many who are perhaps finding SL a bit of a struggle with RL costing more each day, how about relating what you can have on the MP directly with the amount of hours you spend inworld? One hour a month per item for example? Don't use SL and you forfeit the right to sell here. Surely LL has the capabilities to tie one with the other?
*Declines to mention tier is too high as it's obvious LL isn't listening*

Ayesha Lytton

I like the idea of clearing dead content off the marketplace, but depending it upon time inworld is unfair as it penalizes those who sell under one avatar and spend most of their SL time on another. Instead, some or all of the following could work:

- Login check, avatars that have not logged in for 3 months have results lowered in marketplace search. After 6 months, the listings are deactivated.
- Require "updating" of each listing once per year for all accounts with more than 10 items listed.
- Better search position for avatars who do one or more of the following:
- add listings at least once a month
- link an in-world location to their store
- donate L$250/mo or more to one or more sims on a registry, locations that need help to be sustainable. These can be self-enrolled and don't require RL nonprofit status, although charities like Relay for Life would count also.

followmeimthe piedpiper

concurs with you Ayesha, a better way altogether.

Jeremiah Whitfield

One last note on tier. I have always rented on mainland and tier there is US$195 for a sim per month.

I know mainland has it's disadvantages but I've actually really enjoyed tackling the challenges and made/make many tenants happy there at really good rates

Masami Kuramoto

Gordon wrote:

You mean without the marketplace, SL would look just as cheap as OpenSim?

Without the option to cash out, it would.

There seems to be a common belief that the marketplace is bad for SL because it allows creators to cash out rather than spend their earnings on land. Well, if cashing out is bad, just take away that option and see what happens.

Then we should be really lucky to have the SL marketplace. If I imagine that otherwise half of the sims would look like a Linda Kelly Oar - scary.

Half of the sims already do look like that. Have you ever been to the mainland?

And please tell me the OpenSim grid, that offers permanently accessible regions for $2.95 a month. I must have been missing this.

Any grid that allows you to connect externally hosted regions. Your monthly cost is determined by resource consumption (avatars, scripts, physics), not by land size.

Second Life consists of 28,000 regions. Concurrency oscillates between 30,000 and 60,000 logins. Of course that doesn't mean that there are between 1 and 2 avatars in each region. Some regions are popular (and laggy) while others remain empty most of the time.

Last year Linden Lab introduced region idling which makes empty regions slow down so that busy regions on the same simulator can occupy a bigger share of CPU time. However, this shift of resources is not reflected in land prices. A full region costs $295 per month, even if it is empty (and throttled) most of the time. In other words, the owners of low-demand regions now subsidize the clubs and shopping malls. Sure, you can downgrade to a homestead, but then you'll give up 3/4 of your full region's potential land impact.

In the OpenSim world, hosting fees and land size are disconnected. You choose simulator hardware that satisfies your needs in terms of avatar concurrency, script and physics capacity, and then you make your land as large as you wish! You can upgrade or downgrade later, but you'll never pay for resources consumed by a region that isn't yours.

Another nice thing about OpenSim is that you are not restrained by prim size and land impact limits. If you want to build a 65,536m² city, castle or space station entirely in Blender and import it as a single seamless mesh, you can. There's no need to split large things up into 64x64x64 blocks.

Now let's look at some numbers:

A $10 per month SL premium membership will give you 512m² of mainland. Add another $15 and you'll be able to hold a total of 2,560m².

For the same monthly price you can rent a simulator running a 589,824m² OpenSim megaregion. That is 230 times more land and prims. So when I say that SL is 100 times more expensive, I'm actually being generous.

What we're looking at is a huge discrepancy between the value of work (i.e. content creation) and the value of land. Second Life combines the real estate prices of Monaco with the labour wages of Bangladesh. This is acceptable as long as land ownership is optional. If you make it mandatory as proposed here, merchants will soon figure out that giving things away in OpenSim is actually more rewarding than selling them in Second Life.

Brenda Archer

So LL needs to do the following:

1) severely drop the tier

2) impose a cost for the Marketplace for merchants who have not logged in for the past six months. A small cost, to get attention, would be sufficient to clear out unsupported content. In this way small merchants, who are vital to marketing to the many long tail communities in SL, are not penalized.

3) I personally would add that the unused, abandoned trashed up mainland should be either deleted or converted into parkland or sailable water.

4) New user experience needs to matter to LL and it needs to be managed, full stop.

Torric Rodas

There is a parallel with the real world here. Internet shopping is death to the High Street, just as MP is squeezing the business out of regions that specialise in the shopping experience.

It's really kind of sad that people are no longer willing to walk their avatars between shops and instead scroll through pages of offers on MP.

That said, a store in a high traffic sim, does raise awareness of a brand profile and can be a very useful tool for boosting traffic to the online shop of the merchant.


The solution is simple and LL very nearly implemented it a few years ago. Introduce listing fees for the MP. Make owning mainland a cheaper platform for selling content than the MP.

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