SL, why U <3 me so much I can't standz it…

What happened SL? Why U ❀ me everywherez?
For years I wanted to have land on Nautilus. Beautiful layout, all double prim, nice grid, etc. But then the Heart Baron arrived, in force… The blight of SL…

Nautilus

This is all over SL too:

HeartLands_1

HeartLands_2

The problem is not just in the map blight, Heart land builds tend to be very intrusive, blocking the view for all neighbors:

HeartLands_3.png
Back in my day (adjusts corn hat, shakes granny fist at you kids) we kept this kind of a build to a skybox.

There is actually a train moving in a circle inside that glow up there, but I think that might be the person behind the Heartland plot here… This is just one example – and in this case Heart is justified. But this kind of build is also often found all by itself, in the middle of a river, by a road, or whatever.

Polite people don’t litter the ground level up like this.

You wanna do big blightly builds that destroy the view for 2 sims around you… do it in the sky, where nobody else cares.

Its why the outside of my skybox looks like this:
Skybox_exterior.png
Because its over 3000m up, and up here, I can be like that and put my business all up in your business because your business isn’t up here anyway. πŸ™‚
(OK, I did just do this this week… It used to just be solid black)
This is my way of saying – the lady in that box is weird, give her some space up here. I take pains to put my skyboxes at heights none of my nearby neighbors are actively using. And if I get one who feels the need to start rezzing near me after I put this here, those walls get magenta and glowing… πŸ˜›

At ground I give my neighbors this:
Ground_exterior
Because I want to give them the respect of being able to enjoy their land.

 

But heart baron doesn’t respect Second Life, or its users. They clutter up the place with ugly builds that destroy the experience of everyone around them.

They even often have banlines up:

HeartLands_4.png
Sigh… Last time I came here most of the parcels around had banlines and it was tricky moving around unless you walked on the road. This time it was just this one, but it comes and goes. Usually unrented Heart lots have banlines on… But that policy might have changed. I hope so…

Thankfully thus far Zindra is only lightly infected by this plague:
HeartLands_5

I don’t think there is anything that can be done about this… but it is very frustrating nonetheless to see SL stuck down this path. A failure in vision to have better zoning rules, and a lack of rules about blotting out the map (as far as I know), has led us to this point.

Over the last year, I’ve started seeing more and more mainland competing land barons use the same tactic: blot the map, put up walls around your lots, and raise banlines…

It is leaving much of mainland looking rather ugly. It has only made limited inroads into Zindra though. At least so far.

Who would ever have thought Zindra would be the ‘nice respectable looking’ part of Second Life?

 

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When does it become more costly to sell on Marketplace than inworld?

I’ve a theory, that I suspect most merchants have already run through their heads, but which has only just occurred to me…

Marketplace is actually costly for a successful Second Life merchant.

Consider the math. First I’ll look into how much is ‘lost’ in the fee taken by Linden Lab for each sale. The 5%. Then we will compare that to the cost of owning premium land at various tier breaks. After that I’ll comment a bit about what occurs if you rent land instead, or if you use the various enhanced features of Marketplace.

At a 5% service fee for every sale a merchant makes on Marketplace, how much does it take to be charged $10 US-currency. I’ll use this number for my math as its a nice round figure.

As of right now, $10 buys you… (runs off to check) L$2480. When I became active again in SL, in 2009, that same $10 got you L$2600. The figure fluctuates – but tends to be fairly stable. It has had a downward trend – your money buying you less lindens – but a slow one.

By converse… Losing L$2480 today is losing 10 dollars. It took losing L$2600 back in 2009 to lose 10 dollars. For people outside the USA, this figure will math differently. Run my math below using your own conversion rates and VAT (if applicable) locally. The more of your local real life money it takes to buy linden dollars… the more Marketplace will hurt your profits, unless it balances equally on the other side with a similar cost for paying for a premium account (is VAT charged on that fee as well).

A 512m premium account costs $9.95. Lets just round that up to $10. That actually favors marketplace to round that up… (By contrast if you pay your premium quarterly or annually – Marketplace becomes much more expensive in comparison).

For marketplace to cost you L$2480, or $10 – in a month you have to do L$49,600 in sales.

Now for me that would be insanely high. I have a sort of non-shop and I make maybe L$100 a month out of it. πŸ™‚ My “Shop” is mostly there because I like building places and having places… I guess that’s a fixation from having grown up rather harsh and even for a time homeless. You folks do not even want to know how much I spend on land in SL. I purposefully avoid looking and split it across 5 accounts so I will be less likely to know… πŸ™‚

On the other hand if you consider your SL business a viable one, L$49,600 linden had better be small… That’s only $200 dollars. Or… one cup of coffee at Starbucks (OK maybe not… but prices sure seem to be headed that way sometimes…)

I think my mobile phone bill every month is higher than that… San Francisco is not a cheap place to live…

But how much volume is that in SL terms? Lets assume your average product sells for 350L. For most places I shop that’s cheaper than what it really is… For a few high volume places its high. I’ll call it normal because I hope it is and not the 500-600 I’ve been seeing more often of late. πŸ™‚

At that average price, you need to sell 141.7 items a month.

Pipe dream territory for me. But when I go to some popular shops, I suspect they make that many sales in a matter of days.

If I look instead to some brand name mesh places… where I think the average price is L$500… They need 99.2 sales in a month – which is really about 3 and a third a day…

If you are not making sales like this – you are not a successful merchant. You’re just a hobbyist like me. Frankly if you’re the kind of merchant who can “pay real life bills” with Second Life, and I know a few of them, you’re making about $2000-$3000 real life dollars a month in SL. Or… L$496,000 – L$744,000.

Ok… so lets say you have just made exactly L$49,600L in sales on Marketplace. Just now, some fool bought your ‘prim in a box’ and got you to that number. Linden Lab has taken away 5% of that this month – for $2480. If you had sold those items inworld, they would not have taken away ANY of your profits, but you would have paid them $2480 in tier for your little 512m shop.

EVERY SINGLE SALE YOU MAKE ON MARKETPLACE AFTER THAT POINT LOSES YOU MONEY.

Every further time they charge the 5% fee – that is money Marketplace it taking from you that having an inworld shop would not have taken.

Now some very successful merchants get by on a 512m shop because they have zen-like design skills and know about product display. Others cannot as they lack these talents, and so need more land. And some are just land junkies (waves paw).

So here is a list of tier costs, and how much in sales on Marketplace would have instead paid for that land, always rounding up to nearest dollar:

Base Land
Premium + Tier
Total Land
With Group Bonus
Premium + Tier
Cost
Marketplace Monthly Sales
with same cost
512m 563m $10 L$49,600
1,024m 1,126m $15 L$74,400
1,536m 1,689m $18 L$89,280
2,560m 2,816m $25 L$124,000
4,608m 5,068m $35 L$173,600
8,704m 9,574m $50 L$248,000
16,896m 18,585m $85 L$421,600
33,280m 36,608m $135 L$669,600
66,048m 72,652m $205 L$1,016,800

So the way to look at this chart is if you are making more than the linden dollars of any entry up there – consider if you think a shop on a plot of land of the size listed in the group land column could make the same amount of sales. If so – you belong inworld and not on Marketplace.

I strongly urge people here to consider that they don’t need a mega-sized shop to do well. Very effective shops exist in SL on rather small plots of land. Often they are more successful than the giant shops because they are built by people who know about shop display, product placement, and designing for an appealing ‘shopping-mood’ experience.

You can’t control the environment on Marketplace – how appealing your products look in that grid, what the user is experiencing when browsing there, what other products they see next to it, and so on. You can’t set the mood.

Effective inworld shops know that inworld they can control all of this – and motivate people to buy.

Counter examples of badly laid out shops that create a negative shopper experience litter the grid. I won’t call out malls here because some great shops are found in malls – and some horrid shops are found stand alone. But if you DO know how to design a shopping experience – consider very strongly who is adjacent to you in that mall – are they making your customers feel alienated by having ugly displays that people encounter when camming around or walking through?

That is why I began my focus on premium people – they have the ability to control for that.

But mall renters, and shops on estates – are often MORE valuable for keeping SL alive – they support land tier of the places we enjoy. Rent your mall shop only at a place you want to see stay alive in SL… and one that cares about the quality of merchant shop builds…

Renting at malls and on estates is often dramatically CHEAPER than going premium. This is because of discounts as one holds more tier – which get partly passed on to renters to encourage them to rent.

So if you put your shop there… then Marketplace is even LESS attractive… If you could rent a shop for say… 1,500L a month… that’s only going to be $6.05 US dollars (plus the 30 cent fee to buy lindens). If you can make L$30,000 a month, that rental shop inworld is a better deal than Marketplace. And what I see here is that often merchants will pad this with some small mall vendors they rent for even less in places with known good volume (this seems the trend in the furry community) or the landing spots of roleplay venues that attract people looking for the kinds of designs that merchant sells (if you sell genre wear or make genre furnishing).

But this requires keeping track of whether or not your inworld sales are enough to meet the breakpoints.

ANYTIME 5% OF YOUR SALES INWORLD IS MORE THAN THE COST OF THE LAND YOU COULD HAVE BEEN ON, SELLING ON MARKETPLACE WOULD HAVE BEEN MORE EXPENSIVE FOR YOU IN FEES.

But what about all those enhanced listing features on Marketplace? Lets put aside whether or not they work…

Well lets not. I will say it right here and now: they do work.

If they don’t work for you, its because your listings are bad. You need to improve your listing images and maybe even your actual products.

So how do I know they work?

Well… lets be brutal here – where do you think I get ideas for what I end up buying half the time I buy from marketplace… Yep: as a consumer, who is not your competition, I’ll be brutal and say I bought from the person who’s enhanced listing caught my eye. The other half of the time was from a search. Granted much of the time I quickly favorite enhanced listings and return to them later – sometimes months later. Once a year later…

Most of my shopping is inworld though – but that is just preference. Often I look in one and buy in the other. I almost never buy from a merchant I can’t find inworld. I can clearly think of two examples – and they were fairly cheap allowing me to overcome my concerns.

So… enhanced listings… they work.

But they also cost you a LOT, and you could easily pay for a larger shop inworld where you could have a lot more control over the experience – which frankly works even better. A vast portion of my inventory is things I bought that were in an inworld shop nearby whatever had brought me there originally.

I will see things rezzed around in a theme – and that theme will make me realize something like “oh, I like how that chair goes with this bed over here, and I have a similar bed… I think I’ll buy the chair. And what’s this picture frame by the chair, and oh look at that coat that matches the pants I got last night…”

$$$ – how it happens. Good display.

On Marketplace – your enhance listing is often sitting there next to some ‘forced XXX HUD for Vampire Furry Breedables’ that is listed in ‘General’ for who knows what reason… and I have been known to click to the next page just to get that thing off my screen, just as I notice you, click back, but you’re gone. Now instead I have assorted child AV and Gatcha machines and am like… well… none of that’s for me though the gatcha machine looks nice enough, wonder if I can descript it and rez it by my SL Home’s fishtank?

– Yeah… Marketplace is too random.

And, as the point of this blog noted: actually more expensive for a merchant than it might seem at first. Just because you can list it all for free – doesn’t mean its free to sell it.

If you’re a new merchant or a struggling merchant; Marketplace is good. But if you have a brand name that attracts people – you are paying fees you shouldn’t be paying, and you could control that better by creating an inworld experience instead…

Why moving a shop to Marketplace ‘hurts’ the SL economy.

In response to:
I don’t contribute to the economy?!

I wrote a comment, that I think is better served as my own blog entry:

She notes, heavily paraphrasing, giving up an inworld store, shifting to marketplace, and now buying lots of new toys to go and take pictures and make inworld art.

This is pretty normal for today’s Second Life merchant. Shifting to Marketplace and then using the saved rental bill or tier fee to buy more goods in world – thereby feeling they are contributing to the SL economy.

And they are. But not where it is needed to keep SL around.

What such a merchant is no longer doing is helping to support the existence of the venues they visit and enjoy the use of

Venues we enjoy are largely paid for by renting out portions of the land. Tipping in clubs or shops – is trivial by comparison. Look at the ‘how much has been paid’ meters on venues. Even in high traffic spots it is usually a paltry sum when compared to the tier for that location.

If one neither owns land nor rents land – then one is not significantly helping to support the continued existence of places to see and enjoy. That is the problem of Marketplace; it breaks the fundamental link that holds the ‘Second Life Economy’ together.

Formerly there was a cycle of goods bought from merchants who paid landowners or their own tier – thereby keeping in existence places for people to go to in order to enjoy using or showing off the goods they bought from those or other merchants.

Linden Labs stayed in float by collecting the rent bill.

A ‘circle of life’ if you will.

  1. Buy goods at shop B to use at place one loves A
  2. Shop B pays for land at A.

The second part of that is gone when a merchant moves to Marketplace.

Now it is:

  1. Buy goods at Marketplace store B to use at place one loves A
  2. A has no major source of income to pay insane tier bill, and closes.

People do not tip enough to cover the difference.
Venue A won’t succeed by selling advertising – that works for websites though often by the slimmest of margins, but for SL it would create an unpleasant A, and not be as effective as merchant B merely adjusting their settings on MP…

Some things do advertise in world at places you visit – but it is usually groups related to the place itself.

Or the venue’s mall. And of course… that mall is shrinking as its merchant’s go to Marketplace…

With every merchant that leaves their inworld shop, the ability to support inworld venues to visit and enjoy decreases.

Soon people will start having real trouble finding places to use and enjoy the things they bought from those merchants…

Therein lies the danger for Second Life.

Linden Labs though? They are now still collecting rent on what is left, plus also skimming off the top of your sales on Marketplace…

– It might be that if you have an inworld brand that does enough volume, it could even be cheaper to keep that inworld shop…

In addition to helping the larger Second Life economy…

Will Steam kill Zindra, and what age are gamers anyway?

I’m usually the blog that -DOESN’T- talk about the same hyped up stories as everyone else, but rather finds my own hype to get overworked about. πŸ™‚

But here’s a second time I’m breaking that.

Been a while since I’ve blogged…

But some recent news is curious. Hamlet noted it here:
Second Life Coming Soon to Steam with Improved Graphics in Apparent Move to Position Virtual World as Gamer Platform
And:
Second Life on Steam as Expressed in a Single Screenshot
– Which is where I discovered this just today. A bit late to the party as I’ve been offline a lot of late.

Here’s the official announcement:
Second Life is Expanding to Steam

So this is some kind of gamer platform thingy I gather. As in “OMG, TEH GAMERZ, TEH IS INVADING! HIDE YOUR FURRIES!”

(Actually the only group of hardcore gamers I’ve ever found in SL -is- the furry community, a fact that drives me nuts as I go there and want to talk about ‘stuff’ and they’re all talking about ‘pwning’ each other in ‘mass result 47’ or something. πŸ™‚

Annnnyyyywwwaaayyyy…

Average age of gamers is 37:
Study: The average gamer may be older than you think

Yeah, your kid has moved on to Facebook and wearing his jeans around his ankles…

Video games are for OLD PEOPLE…

Like Disco and mood rings…

By contrast average age of SL players is mid 30s from what people keep claiming.

Are we the same, or 2 years younger then them? πŸ™‚

Probably the same. We’ve been telling ourselves SL is the older crowd, but this probably actually -IS- the gamer crowd already. We’re just the ones who were too slow to escape the zombies and orcs… So we’re in SL instead.

So what does this mean for the content we “love” in SL.

You know… the live music and philosophy and artisti… yeah right… who are we kidding?

The porn, bdsm, gor, furries, fashionistas, bloodlines, gothers, builders, and tinies… But mostly… the adult stuff…

I’m not in that scene, but we all know that’s the heart of this place. And I -do- SL-live on Zindra. It has the better neighbors these days…

By some odd twist of logic I’ve yet to wrap my head around, Zindra looks nicer than a lot of SL now… Somehow those adult builds that looked so amazingly garish I used to post about it all the time have gone. In 2009 it was all that ‘fugly WTF’ look. Now: something a lot better. They have the best looking land now, and often more pleasant or at least not -in your face- neighbors.

(I still won’t touch the groups over there, those folks went toxic from fighting each other, but the land is better.)

I kind of like how its evolved into a settled and mostly pleasant area over time.

Will all these Steam “gamers” they’re bringing in care about the ‘porntopia’ around SL… If they bother to show up?

Since they’re really just as old as us, maybe they’re already really past the ‘hormone age’ -not likely to do much harm- and possibly already here?

BUT… the public and game companies still think they’re selling to kids… so the real fear is… Will Steam force LLs to remove ‘A’ rated content and zones?

No idea…

I don’t think the people using Steam will care. But the public looking in and seeing a “porn game” listed on the Steam platform might force Steam’s hand to put a ‘damper’ on ‘that video game’ in some false belief that video games are still for kids.

About that dead land market in SL…

… I just won an auction today for a 512m lot, for L$14,510.

Ouch.

But if you think I’m crazy, three other auctions for lots smaller than 1000m on moderate land went for over L$100,000. I didn’t bookmark them and don’t know how to find recent auctions once they end – that’s the rate they were at 30 minutes prior to auction end when I stopped looking at the general page and focused in on just my lot.

So yeah… the market is completely, totally, utterly, no qualms about it, dead.

Right?

That’s what we keep hearing.

So what gives?

Well those three pricey lots were in Bay City, on a little finger of a peninsula. If you got all 3, you’ve just won 4 sides protected in Bay City. If you got the one at the end of the finger, 3 sides. The middle 2 sides, the other end 3 sides (one side of which being road).

My lot? water adult land that my existing land wraps around… no idea how it went from owned to for auction without ever passing through abandoned. But to whoever did give it up: you just lost $14,510L that you could have made off of me.

LLs got it instead.

And I bought it for the sole purpose of not building much of anything on it other than probably extending my collection of water lilies… πŸ™‚

Meanwhile some lots went for rock bottom prices, and I’ll bet there were a few that didn’t even sell – I forgot took though I must add that I thought they all had at least 1 bidder this time (sometimes they don’t).

What has happened to land in SL is that its become particular. Land with value has well… value… protected, water or water side, roadside, hilly (flatland is more for new users, and today those people get linden homes), good shape, and so on.

Look at all the abandoned lots around mainland. Go and really look at some of them. There tend to be two trends:

First you will see the obvious: rows of bad cuts or flat land in a grid. People abandon bad cuts for the obvious reason that they are bad cuts. As in, the lot is hard to use for anything, too skinny here, zig-zap shape, or whatever… have to get very creative to build a building. Sometimes so bad (like a 256m long, 4m wide strip) that not even a creative person could use it (when Zindra was new I saw a 128m long 4m wide strip used by an ad-farmer, who had to suffer daily ARs as a result – just in case anyone is getting that idea right now).

The second seems baffling: very large posh looking pieces of land. They control all the key points around them – protected, maybe water, maybe road, maybe a pleasant hill or cliff, and so on. The reason is there, but its something many miss. Too big.
– Bite off more than you can chew… and sooner or later it gets you.

These folks could save themselves by slicing it up properly and selling off in pieces – but ego or refusal to accept less than they paid results in them instead giving up and accepting back none of what they paid.

I got out of Campion, where I had just shy of 8000m of land, by slicing off most of it and selling it for rock bottom to the bots – then sitting for a while on the exclusive mountain top view until a buyer who wanted it enough showed up. It took longer than it should have because I failed to cut out a perfect tier breakpoint for the exclusive part. I also held out despite repeated offers of 10L/m, I waited until I got about 20L/m – but probably lost the difference in the extra month of tier.

I did this because I was ambivalent about selling in the first place
– pro tip for the ‘not a pro land seller’. If you are not in the business of flipping land, don’t try to be. Don’t sell to sell now… set your land to sell before you actually want to move out… Ok yeah, how will you know that…
– But I have found that I have only done well in moving when I did it at a time where I did not feel a crisis of ‘must move now’ but rather felt a ‘I’ve lost that loving feeling with this place, but maybe I can get it back.’
– Set for sale then… and if nobody buys maybe you will fall in love with your land again and take it off market… but if they buy, you are just enough over it that you can move on… and because you weren’t in crisis mode, you haven’t yet resorted to bot prices. Or maybe like me you used bots to cut off the chaff and leave yourself with the wheat over which to be ambivalent.

Land flippers will call that insane. But then that is because they move volume. Land users on the other hand… if you try to swim with those sharks, they’re going to see a seal in the water… Better to sell when you have time to wait it out, and in pieces that look ideal after you shave off the chaff.

My oldest friend in SL is also currently one of the largest land flippers in SL. When I speak to this friend and hear how they talk about land and choices they make… I realize that this person could absolutely crush me like a flea if I tried to compete in their business – not just in terms of reserve capital, but more importantly; in terms of know-how.

(And I also have an idea of how rough it was for this person to enter the business – you basically have to jump in as a seal in a pool of sharks, and grow teeth before they, often very politely, finish you off.)

Which points to another thing: a lot of that abandoned land you see… that’s sometimes the seals after the sharks are done with them.

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