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Sansar: preliminary assessment


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My first thoughts on Project Sansar (poorly named, in my opinion because of the confusion with Sansara, SL's first continent) are as follows:

1) I believe the business model is wrong

A taxation-based model is difficult to implement and awkward to manage. It creates disincentives to economic activity and smacks of RL politics. How much tax, on whom, under what circumstances, with what exceptions, under what conditions, across what time frame, subject to what future changes, decided by whom, influenced by whom? We suffer enough of this crap in RL. Do we really want it in a virtual world - a world that is voluntary, where we can choose to participate or not with the click of a mouse?

It makes far more sense, in my opinion, for Sansar to follow the SL business model of charging rent for land. Not only is land LL's primary source of revenue in SL, but it would separate LL (the owner of the world) from the residents (the economic agents of the world). One of the key lessons LL should have learned by now is that owners should not be players. Many of SL's problems over the past seven years were the result of LL's political intervention in the society/economy. This was exacerbated by lack of vision, poor strategy, underinvestment in infrastructure, inadequate communication with customers (residents), incompetent management and amateurish PR. The price of land need not be high if the world is managed properly.

2) I believe the strategy is wrong

As I have been saying for years, virtual worlds should not be managed by engineers. New technologies should be employed to enhance human social interaction, which is deep and complex, not added as toys to be played with and discarded. Facebook's success is NOT built on engineering prowess; it's built on social transactions. Therefore, the purpose of incorporating new technology into Sansar - of building Sansar around new technology - must be to facilitate human social and economic transactions. It should expand human capabilities and freedoms, not channel or restrict them.

3) world or game?

A main criticism of SL has been, "what is there to do there?" Well, what is there to do in Facebook? There is no set goal in FB, no mission to accomplish, no path to follow. It's "show & tell" writ large. Sure, one can play games in FB, but that's not its main draw. People use FB to transact with each other socially, through words, photos, video and music, as part of the great social dance we all play in life, which involves, among other things, identity, culture, status, relationships, emotions, beliefs and opinions. Anyone who has spent any time in SL knows that it's a rich and vibrant social milieu - FB x 1000 - because of the ability to communicate in three dimensions in real time - four dimensions if one includes one's avatar, which is a huge source of personal information all by itself.

In general, then, at this preliminary stage, I have strong reservations about Linden Lab's ability to construct a new virtual world. Has the Board of Directors and senior management truly learned from the mistakes of the past? Does the company have a realistic vision of the future of VR? Has the company been restructured to promote talent and creativity or is it still mired in bureaucracy? So many unanswered questions and so little information from Linden Lab.

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Good points. They're not getting away from the land model though, they're adding commission as extra revenue and then finding the balance where cheaper land is offset by the commissions and whatever other fees and sinks they're planning on adding. End result is that they're making more money than the land model alone.

It looks like what they're going after is something that runs in the browser. So basically they're just pushing a combination of Cloud Party and Google Lively ... web based client with VR support and adding in their currency and sales of virtual goods through their own marketplace.

This stuff is not really that difficult to implement, both Samsung and Occulus support is pretty trivial as development goes, especially in game development.

This is probably why they're not after SL'ers, it's web based and a step down from SL which is a heavy client/heavy experience. But hey, they can go back to pimping it as the next best thing for virtual conferences and events, etc.

As far as land pricing goes, they've had their chances to lower land prices for SL'ers. They had the opportunity to pass down cost savings to us when they laid off a third of the employees at LL, they had it again when they started putting more sims onto less servers, or when servers started only spinning up if they were in use, they had it when they closed down a datacenter and offices in Europe and Boston and on it goes. Looks like land prices in SL will continue to equate to a car payment.

I joke about it, but I've literally bought undeveloped land in RL for less than the upfront price of a region and pay less taxes on that RL land than tier. And sold Christmas trees on it so it paid for itself.

You're right though, without the understanding of community and focusing on monetization more than community and horrible transparency with existing customers Sansar is just going to be one of many, many contenders for web based VR assuming the hype wave the companies are trying to create actually works. Users aren't hyped about VR, companies are.

Time is almost up on the current CEO though, onto the next CEO and phase of LL.

 

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Agree with all points, always have.

Back when I joined in 2007 SL had no Windlight, few sculpts -- and I thought it looked great. No complaints at all. Whatever SL lacked visually, I filled in with imagination. Because for me that is what SL was all about.

Since then the engineers have added Windlight, ability to import mesh, shadows, materials, etc. -- and while SL looks better than ever, if all that has had any effect on retention, it is obviously negative.

I remember all the rejoicing when the advent of mesh was announced. I did not understand it. This was clearly going to be a major transition from User Generated Content to User Uploade Content. Nevertheless I spent thousands upon thousands of hours learning to make and texture mesh, to avoid going out of business as so many others did.  And yes the stuff I make is much better, but now I am not competing just with other SL residents, or with other SL residents who make mesh, but with anybody who wants to import a few hundred free meshes in from the internet. 

The result?  SL population continues to slowly decline!  Now I suppose one could claim that without mesh, SL would have declined even more -- but I don't think so. I think most of us were perfectly happy with the way good old pre-mesh SL looked. It may be more impressive now, but it doesn't attract more customers.

Imagine if instead LL had at any point decided -- as I and most successful business owners in SL or RL have -- that serving the customer was of first importance. That means not only good customer service but understanding how the product is used, and designing with that in mind. 

I dont know if I have the energy to jump through the Sansar hoop, and have two stores open in two different grids (or more, since Sansar is not the only game in town).  I may just stay where I am while LL splits my customer base. 

 

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Deltango Vale wrote:

My first thoughts on Project Sansar (poorly named, in my opinion because of the confusion with Sansara, SL's first continent) are as follows:

1) I believe the business model is wrong

A taxation-based model is difficult to implement and awkward to manage.
It creates disincentives to economic activity and smacks of RL politics. How much tax, on whom, under what circumstances, with what exceptions, under what conditions, across what time frame, subject to what future changes, decided by whom, influenced by whom? We suffer enough of this crap in RL. Do we really want it in a virtual world - a world that is voluntary, where we can choose to participate or not with the click of a mouse?

It makes far more sense, in my opinion, for Sansar to follow the SL business model of
charging rent for land
. Not only is land LL's primary source of revenue in SL, but it would separate LL (the owner of the world) from the residents (the economic agents of the world). One of the key lessons LL should have learned by now is that owners should not be players. Many of SL's problems over the past seven years were the result of LL's political intervention in the society/economy. This was exacerbated by lack of vision, poor strategy, underinvestment in infrastructure, inadequate communication with customers (residents), incompetent management and amateurish PR. The price of land need not be high if the world is managed properly.


Okay, let's start using words properly. For some time there's been a freakout over the word "tax" among a few forum posters.

Either Linden Lab can be thought of being a government, in which all funds going to them would be a tax, or they could be a business, in which case they wouldn't charge taxes.

Either Second Life relies on property tax and Sansar will theoretically be based on sales/income tax --

Or Second LIfe relies on rent and Sansar will theoretically be based on collecting commissions.

In either event, nothing will really change. There are issues with both types of "taxes/fees."

 

 

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I pretty much agree with all the posts above. 

The only thing I'm not sure of is the tax system.  In theory, if they tax all consumer sales then the cost of running the grid is spread among all residents and not just region and mainland owners.  If the tax rate is reasonable, and land prices are a lot lower than SL, it might be a good thing.  More people could have their own place, which would lead to more people spending more to furnish and landscape it.  But if the tax say only applies to creators the rate would have to be higher since there is less of them, then that would be a bad thing.  They are just shifting some or all of the burden to creators.  Sure they could price items to absorb this cost, but you can only charge so much for something and expect sales.  So on this issue I will wait more hard details before deciding if it is an improvement or smoke and mirrors.

I will probably check out Sansar when it opens, but at this point there just isn't enough information about it to make any real decisions about migrating there using both worlds. 

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While I hold Ebbe singularly guilty as the bomb that destroys SL, I have to concede - I am enjoying seeing the 'merchants' panic!

A taxation-based system would be extremely fair. Most people on SL want to have their own land - why should 'creators' (WHO RIP OFF TEXTURES FROM THE INTERNET IN 99% OF CASES) get to accrue all the benefits?

My interest, if Sansar does amount to anything, is getting my first piece of land. I couldn't give a fig if you have to pay a few % more every time you sell one of your overpriced creations. Creators are greedy, they will bump the price up at any excuse. Fortunately, WE don't HAVE To buy them.

 

 

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Thanks for the laugh of the week. 

Creators are greedy but you are the one that insists you should be paid a RL wage for SL unskilled labor per your post https://community.secondlife.com/t5/General-Discussion-Forum/CAMPAIGN-FOR-A-FAIR-WAGE-ON-SL/m-p/2943145

I have news for you.  Most creators earn pennies on the dollar when compared to what they would be paid in RL.  Most don't even make a profit. 

Whose the greedy one here?

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Amethyst Jetaime wrote:

Thanks for the laugh of the week.
smiley-laughing025.gif

Creators are greedy but you are the one that insists you should be paid a RL wage for SL unskilled labor per your post

I have news for you.  Most creators earn pennies on the dollar when compared to what they would be paid in RL.  Most don't even make a profit. 

Whose the greedy one here?

Oh my, somebody got quite a serious spanking in that thread! I am surprised he came back for a second helping.

 

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I both like and respect you so much, Del, but you are way off the mark.  Perhaps Sansar just ain't for you.  But you are so far off the mark.  

Enjoy your SL experience and if LL (or any of their taxed entities) creates an 'experience' that nips at your tush then enjoy that as well. 

 

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Perrie Juran wrote:

On a side note I just learned 
 that LL is giving a preview tour of Sansar on 9/18!

 

ETA, another 
 to the event.

You gotta love how LL doesn't use it's own platform to promote it's own projects. Seriously, WTF read things on SLU? Also notice, how the event is not for average users, but for professionals. It's like 2010 all over again. I really do think LL is incapable of learning.

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Amethyst Jetaime wrote:

Thanks for the laugh of the week.


Creators are greedy but you are the one that insists you should be paid a RL wage for SL unskilled labor per your post

I have news for you.  Most creators earn pennies on the dollar when compared to what they would be paid in RL.  Most don't even make a profit. 

Whose the greedy one here?

You have to love the delusions of such people. On 1 hand, we have the merchants and creators, who make money by giving back to the community. On the other hand, we have these freeloaders who have never done anything to help anyone, yet think merchants are greedy.

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Actually read it on Tuesday I think on Hamlets blog before 'across the street' :) And do believe local SF residents would have heard about it =^^=

 

So the Lab do a walkthrough for a specific group? Hey theres so many droids doing 3D breathless promos why the hell not.

 

Hype in their own office that people pay to attend. Yep where do I convince people to do that too.

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Phoebe Avro wrote:

I was just chatting to a friend in IM, and we saying the same thing LL is going down that old road they have trodden before, they never learn.

What perplexes me, is why would architects give a crap? A building is just a mesh. You can put that building(mesh) anywhere. There is nothing they could put in Sansar that could make architecture more appealing than any other platform out there. Seriously, LL's reasoning is mindboggling. If LL did something special with animation, now then they might have something to brag about. I doubt that will happen tho.

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What's a second life if you can't afford a home or place to start up a business? I predict having affordable, or even free land, will be ideal to attract large user numbers; hopefully several million. These users will have more money to buy things because land ownership costs would be negligable. This should create plenty of market demand, in turn allowing Sansar and creators to turn a profit.

To illustrate, I was paying 40 bucks a month for what I considered a fairly oridinary sized plot of land in SL; paying it to one or two people who were in the landlord chain. Let's imagine for moment land is free. Discresionary spending, as far as in world purchasing, should rise allowing more merchants and creators to prosper. Add another million users; then both stand to profit quite well - even with a tax. Plus merchents will save on land too. My 40 bucks will be spent broadly to many users, rather than to just a few. Plus, I'll have total control of my land; which is a game changer.

And then there's services and events. With all this extra money I'm saving on land, I'd be willing to pay a ticket price to attend fun events. Why not? Going out in RL life is expensive. A night spent at home playing around in the virtual world is way cheaper. Event organizers will save land costs too. 

Call me optimistic, but the Sansar business model makes so much sense to me. Whatever scheme they come up with I hope it works; and I hope land is dirt cheap so everyone can make a virtual place to call home - a second home. :)

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