Virtual Goods and the Greatest Story ever Told


Virtual goods make money

In a recent post about the profitability of online social networks in the US, China and Japan, venture capitalist Bill Gurley presents evidence that the more financially successful social network sites are those that downplay advertising revenue and focus on revenue from virtual goods. He points out that Users in Second Life are doing $450m annually in this business and taking out of Second Life $100m a year.

But why would anyone buy them? Continue reading

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Exit Reality – linking virtual worlds?

I really want the 3D web to work. My dream, and I suspect I’m hardly alone, is for the entire web to be browsable as though it was all Second Life.  In a recent post I wrote:

Eventually, the many virtual environments out there (in there) will begin to connect and coalesce. Like the door at the back of the wardrobe that leads to Narnia, there will soon be portals from and to Second Life and Google and, crucially into which the standard text-based experience of will be embedded.

‘An example of how this could work is given by Australian company, ‘ExitReality’. Of the virtual environments so far established, theirs has most fully grasped the concept of integrating the 3D web with the 2D web. The aim is to make virtual environments like Second Life integrate seamlessly with text-based social web environments such as Facebook. In stitching up the web in this way the potential of both the book metaphor and the world metaphor is greatly enhanced. The 2D web becomes attractive at last; the 3D web finally becomes useful.’

So I was excited when Exit Reality finally went live. I tried it. It looked a bit like Second Life. I turned my blog into a lage 3D hall and walked around it a bit. Cool. Well it would have been if it hadn’t been so slow to render and if it hadn’t crashed my browser twice.

If that hasn’t put you off, you can try it here.

I don’t mean it to put you off. I really want the 3D web to work. I really want Exit Reality to work, and I’m sure it will, because it’s just too good an idea to fail.

But I’m still dreaming.

Linking Virtual Worlds

Supposedly, Australians are leaving Second Life in droves.

It seems, though, the researcher Kim MacKenzie’s words were taken out of context, and she’s fed up about the media looking for ‘Second Life is dying’ stories.

Beating the Ghost Town effect

Reading about the ghost town effect, and having experienced it myself in eery lone visits to Australian landmarks, it’s clear that Second life could have done with a few more European-style urban planners or American new urbanists on the team. They would have pointed out that endless sprawl leads not to a feeling of spaciousness but to isolation. Second Life is effectively a lesson in the pitfalls of suburban sprawl taken to its dysfunctional conclusion. To enter Second Life is the online equivalent of moving from Boston or Seattle to Phoenix, Arizona, or from London to Adelaide. It isn’t that there are no people, just that the residents are spread out over an unfeasibly large area. The ghost town effect is a direct consequence of trying to abolish the scarcity of ‘land’. The saving grace here is that it is in fact already possible to do the opposite – to recreate online the super dense urban slum, that allows maximum, if not optimum, conviviality. Second Life already contains a reconstruction of Hong Kong’s famous and no longer existing Walled City – a city quarter that was in its heyday the densest spot on earth. In SL it’s mostly empty. But In a virtual environment one can have all the benefits of density – connection, liveliness, collaboration – with none of the pitfalls – open sewers and hacked power supplies. Now all that’s needed is to lead people to that kind of space by culling the suburbs. It may seem a bit harsh for those users who prefer to camp out on their exclusive islands in splendid isolation and have no visitors, but the commercial alternative for Second Life is Second Death. Fortunately, Linden Labs is already planning to introduce zoning. It’s a start.

Linking 3D with 2D

Having said that, the real problem with all these virtual spaces is Continue reading