Get my home-made Halloween Treat Tray here at Ravenglass Rentals Office!
At one level, we're all "the stupid" about the economy because we don't have the facts. I'm not even sure the Lindens have the facts, as they may not track them, and can't track things like PayPal payments for rentals or credit card payments for X-Street content offsite. For all we know, like the private plots and kitchen gardens of the Soviet Union which provided one third of the food source for people and took up something like a fourth of arable land or more, such offsite payments could be a third or more of the SL-related economy that don't fit in the socialist model.
Gwyn has a HUGELY long post about the "hard facts" of the SL Economy. I indeed read it all the way through, and I think it boils down to saying, "But the economy, or at least that part of it I can see, is saturated with content producers and new people can't compete". My reply -- but there are at least six economies, all fighting each other, and frankly, new people keep coming and pushing out old people and competing successfully -- prefabs is one area where this is very visible.
Gwyn never answers her comments unless it pleases her and they are very tekkie -- but I can only reiterate the same indicators I have had all along for the economy, which I put in her post, which tells me it is doing better:
o traffic on infohubs, especially resident-made, and welcome areas
o traffic at major attractive venues
o attendance at live music and other events
o Lindex volume — higher than ever
o my rentals
o sales of my dumb little items, which are even more ridiculous than yours by far
o prefab prices!
However, if we zoom out to the entire industry, and take the jaded view of a former avid LL NDA-signer, Electric Sheep Company, we will come to think that "the entire Metaverse" is in trouble and is going to lose "80 percent of its ad campaigns" -- a prediction he makes based on WSJ reporting that experimental ad campaigns (which may or may not be VWs, but could more likely be on YouTube) will be cut. Maybe that's a good thing lol? A corrective in all the hype is a natural outcome to all the frenzy of 2007.
I always marvel that Sibley is able consistently to be so negative and pessimistic about his own industry, and yet continue to attract orders for his own services in virtual world management and creation. That alone should tell you it isn't the gloom-and-doom he imagines lol!
I don't know if we can take this to mean much, but Zee Linden is lately out stumping, countering those sour Australian press articles about "the world failing because some of our Australian projects failed", saying that despite the real-world recession, SL is fine.
Well, of course it would be, from his perspective, as he continues to sell islands, and he can control the economy and keep the currency rate stable -- and the land supply managed.
Lindens have still not moved to full sims on the mainland auctions yet, which means the spigot has been turned off now for about four or five months. They are selling large parcels for dollars, and hustling abandoned land very quickly. I just reported a piece of land that had a half-finished build and an extortionist sale price for a year on nit as abandoned, and it went to the auction within a few days, and I had to pay $16/m to get it (to add to the build in Iris where we have the Moth Temple Infohub).
In a reply to me, Gwyn says:
"the important thing is to realise that the consumer market — the number of residents willing to spend money to buy content/services in SL — is not growing significantly, and did not do so for at least one year and a half. But in that same amount of time, the landmass grew three times and the population doubled (and so did the number of simultaneously in-world residents)."
But again, look at the number of people who spend one dollar or more in world -- it is now 405,000, increased singificantly from 350,000 only a few months ago. The consumer spending class *is* growing, and growing fairly rapidly.
The land mass only grew because people got openspace sims, which are inflationary as to the reporting of land mass, as people get 65,536 m2 for just $250, with only 3745 prims. There are more spenders because there is more concurrency, but there will still be a significant number of bots and people who don't spend and don't stay long or come rarely.
I don't see how you can continue to claim an economy is "saturated" when the number of spenders and the number of concurrent log-ons go up, and new language groups come in and get into business!
Sibley tells us gloomily that only kids worlds will grow, but I think he has left out a niche that has been growing steadily, albeit never appreciated by developers like him, and even by the Lindens: small inworld business and their communities of consumers. The satisfaction that people get even from making something amateur-like and basically stupid (like my Halloween Treats Tray which you can buy for $25 at my office to help support the land preserve), not to mention the move from amateur to semi-professional or professional available from the SL platform -- well, it's indescribable. It keeps people coming back for hours and hours. Yes, it's a challenge to advertise and get noticed. Yet people do, and there are many quiet success stories. All this home-made stuff, outside the bounds of professional content makers in worlds where there is no UGC -- it's glorious, it's exhilarating, it's inspiring.
This facet of SL is what enables LL to keep thriving, and enables M Linden even to be invited as keynoter again to the Virtual Worlds meeting in LL, after a hiatus of Linden keynoters. It's what enables people to keep enjoying SL and still filling up blogs and websites and still keep making money. The ten languages that LL is now working on is tremendously important, as a lot of the growth is in the non-English world, and commerce without English can be very rocky, even with things like the free translator from Hank Ramos or various commercial translators.
Sibley also makes a prediction that SL will not take off as a meeting space. This is an interesting debate to have. Of course, it already IS a meeting space for people who haven't waited for Sibley's permission to make it so lol. Businesses talk a lot about the things they need for such a meeting space -- secure transmission of data, utter control over the parcel, etc. Perhaps these new undemocratic group tools that can ensure even voice moderation on a parcel will lure more of them in, even while I find it a turn-off and against the spirit of SL.
And sorry, this putative problem with downloading isn't a viable argument against the use of virtual worlds. Young kids download World of Warcraft and its numerous patches constantly -- not to mention the many songs, movies, casual games, etc. etc. they download constantly all day long. Downloading isn't the issue. As I have often said, the dirty little secret of flash worlds is that even if they don't have a download, and they "play in their browser," they constantly tell you they are LOADING...on Lively, even on IMVU, you see these meshes and underpinnings of the games constantly, especially if you don't have the most stellar system. If people can stand the LOADING...they can stand the rezzing of SL.
Sibley seems to argue that if there is an economic downturn in general, companies won't sponsor or hold conferences, and won't be willing even to experiment with cheaper alternatives like a virtual world. Critics of the concept of VWs as meeting spaces also sound off in comments, to the effect that webinars and various 2-D web solutions are easier to run.
I'm not too worried about whether companies flock out of SL just as they flocked in. What's more important is that stability, concurrency, volume of transactions grow *like a country*, and not important if "unique users" *grows like a game*. When there are sufficiently regular and sustained residents of a *country*, the companies will show up, too.
Reuben of Millions of Us remains more optimistic than Sibley, although sobered by the recession. He comes up with figures that there are 100-130 million unique registered; 75 percent are 8-24. A $1.5 billion industry, he says. He thinks we can say about virtual worlds, "this is beginning to turn the web into a place where you can actually meet face to face, closer to real life". He thinks there are "tail winds" behind the industry because there are global teams of designers you can assemble now at a low cost. Unlike Sibley and company, he believes that the cost of gas and travel in general will in fact drive people further to virtual worlds, he is confident about this, as a natural extention of the Internet with these major features: simulation of space; virtual currency; characters.