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Monday, September 13, 2021


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Michely Dos Santos

Great article, all designers must to have open this discursion,


I'm not convinced the "real world" value of the virtual currency is particularly significant, at least so long as it's within a certain range of constraints. People in virtual communities aren't buying commodities, or consumables; *everything* is discretionary spending. And Kaz's complaint that a virtual currency "priced well below a single unit of real life currency sets the stage for the entire market" seems extremely narrow-minded. So a Linden's worth half a penny; we could just as easily say it's worth three kopeks, or five Won, or nearly a hundred Vietnamese Dong.

My other virtual world experiences are with Sansar (before it became a music thing) and Twinity, and in both of those prices are/were extremely similar to those in SL. Clothes, accessories, and typical furniture are all mostly in the 1.5-3 USD range--low enough to qualify as impulse purchases for many people, I presume. Sure, vehicles and bodies and heads and skins are frequently more, but do most people buy those on impulse?

I genuinely don't get the argument that LL "control" user-generated pricing. How? By... keeping the Linden price extremely stable? I must have missed the part where uncertainty and currency speculation were vital elements to a healthy virtual economy.

Using a virtual currency lets (virtual) merchants compete (in one sense, albeit an important one) on a level playing field. There's one price for an item, and everyone pays it. (Not counting group discounts, etc.) If someone wants to use psychological pricing, or (perhaps more usefully) price their stuff to fall within the L$101-500 range the marketplace lets you filter on, they can do that, and it's in effect for everyone. Sure the real-world price may vary depending on exchange rates to local currency, but AFAIK that's unavoidable.

You could price a piece of clothing at L$498, or price it at, what, 98p, 98c, 98 Eurocent, 98 Rubles, 98 Yen? There is precedent, most notably in ebook publishing, where different countries have kind of standardized price points. But the justification for that usually comes down to "different market conditions", which isn't quite so credible in a virtual global market. And it seems that would most likely immediately murder the market for anything resellable (ebooks aren't), since cross-region arbitrage would immediately become lucrative. (At current exchange values you could in this scenario hypothetically buy clothing in the US at 0.98 USD, then re-sell it with a UK price of 83p, under-cutting the merchant's price for Brits by ~15% and making about a 15% profit for the reseller.)


Thanks for the correction about the early Lindex. I thought for some reason it was an acquisition. The history of SL is pretty rich, which makes it a good example of virtual worlds in general.

Also true about the price of houses on Unity, but also a good example of a company controlling the market. Unity changed the minimum a ways back so that $4.99 is the least you can sell something for. Free is still allowed.

A good balance I think, especially for countries that are poorer than the U.S. where for the price of a computer and electricity. After the 30% to Unity, a minimum sale is going to earn you $3.50 USD.

Compare that to the lowest price on SL market being 1 Linden Dollar.

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