Thoughts on the Land Market in Second Life and the Newer Virtual Worlds

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Photo by Jesse Roberts on Unsplash

Through the Second Life Friends group on Facebook, I found out about my new favourite thing/activity in Second Life. It’s a backpack by ScriptWorks that you wear, and when you click it, it teleports you to a random spot anywhere within Second Life! (You can set it to avoid Adult-rated areas if you wish.)

You can buy a set of 5 random teleporter backpacks on the SL Marketplace, which means that you can give them to your friends and go exploring together! A group of backpack wearers can be simultaneously teleported to any random location on the grid, estates as well as mainland sims. It is great fun and a great way to see Second Life!

In spending my time exploring the SL grid with this backpack, I have learned a few things while hopping around from sim to sim:

  1. There is a lot of empty/abandoned land on the SL mainland. According to the Second Life Grid Survey, between 20.7% and 21.4% of Mainland by area is abandoned parcels, but to my eye, it looks like much more than that. No wonder Linden Lab is trying to encourage more land use by decreasing the cost of tier and doubling the amount of free land given to Premium members.
  2. There are a lot of people who are land barons, who buy land, subdivide it, and rent it out to other people. I really had had no idea that it was such a big business in SL! I have visited some attractively designed communities like Cedar Creek, Lionheart, and Orchard Heights, where I was tempted to rent a beautiful home for myself.

Which got me thinking about the concepts of land and land rental in the newer virtual worlds. It’s going to be a lot harder for people to make money as land barons in places like Sansar, where you can get up to three 4km-by-4km spaces for free (and even more land if you upgrade to one of the paid subscription levels).

However, there may still be a market for people who create well-designed spaces that other people want to rent. Drax has said that he wants to rent out the currently empty houses that line the street in his 114 Harvest experience. I’d certainly be interested in renting one of those houses!

The thing is, once you own land, you want to build something on it. This, in turn, drives the economy, as people purchase houses, trees, swimming pools, etc. I used to own land in Second Life, both on the mainland and then in the planned community of Bay City, but I sold it years ago. For many years I was homeless, like many SL avatars (although I did have access to a secret spot with build rights, where I could unpack boxes and change outfits).

Then very recently, I decided to use one of my Premium accounts to get myself a Linden Home in Second Life, and right after that I went out and bought some new furniture from many of the designers whom I have met and gotten to know from my time in Sansar, like Maxwell Graf. Loz Hyde, Froukje Hoorenbeek (a.k.a. Dutchie), and Ria Bazar!

What about newer virtual worlds other than Sansar? I seem to remember visiting a domain in High Fidelity where avatars could set up homes for themselves, but I’m not sure what the status of that project is (and I’m not even sure if I could find it again!). Much like Sansar, Sinespace actually gives you a free home space which you can decorate as you wish.

Frankly, most of the people currently exploring and inhabiting the newer social VR spaces/virtual worlds are creators rather than consumers, who are going to build from scratch rather than select ready-made items from a marketplace to decorate their living space. This means that most people are going to use their own (free) land rather than rent it from a landlord. It might stay that way for quite some time, which could be bad news for wannabe land barons in the newer virtual worlds. And it could be even worse news for people who bought expensive virtual land in places like Decentraland, hoping to be able to make some money by renting it out.

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Dancing at Rust in High Fidelity: Depression, Be Banished on the Disco Dancefloor!

I’m feeling really depressed tonight (for reasons that I’d rather not share on the blog), so I decided to put on my Oculus Rift headset and head over to Rust nightclub in High Fidelity, where DJ Phlash is spinning tunes and avatars are dancing. There are some really creative avatars, executing some really funky dancing animations! Avatar animations are one area where High Fidelity definitely has the advantage over Sansar.

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(Note I have avatar nametags turned on so I can see the avatars’ names above their heads. That is an optional bit of code I picked up at the HiFi Marketplace for free which enabled me to do that.)

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Me, I’m justing using the standard Matthew avatar (see above). Nothing special. I just felt like coming and listening and watching tonight. Just to get my mind off my troubles. And then I clicked on one of the dance animation balls on stage to join in on all the fun:

Depression, be banished on the disco dancefloor! The event is still going on, so come join us!

Second Life Update: Belleza Female Mesh Bodies Finally Get Bento Hands

This week, the announcement went out that Belleza female mesh bodies finally got Bento hands (i.e. hands with fingers that could be animated). Since I have an alt with a Belleza Freya mesh body, I went over to the Belleza store in-world to get a redelivery of the body. (You could also just wait for an automatic delivery of the update, but I was impatient.) The new version, 5.0, has Bento hands and a bunch of other new features.

So far, the only problem I have had is that the Belleza appliers that came with my Akeruka Lulu Bento mesh head don’t work with the version 5.0 body. But I have picked a Belleza skin tone that matches my Lulu head as best I can, and I hide the slight neck seam with a choker. Hopefully, either Belleza or Akeruka can fix the problem soon!

Here’s a short video of what my alt looks like now:

As you can see, she’s got curves in all the right places, and a body for sin! No, she doesn’t escort, but she does table dance for tips on an adult sim, the only SL avatar I have that actually earns any money instead of spending it! She does quite well most evenings, thank you 🙂

Here’s what she’s wearing:

  • Head: Akeruka Lulu Bento head (group gift dollarbie from a special held last year; Akeruka has issued four dollarbie Bento mesh heads—two female, two male—in the past year to members of their group, so it’s well worth joining)
  • Body: Belleza Freya mesh body (new version 5.0 Bento)
  • Nails: Aleutia Manicure Polish applier (a gift from the Cosmopolitan 5th Anniversary event)
  • Hair: Milena Blond hair by MINA (free gift from the recent Land of Rainbows Easter Egg hunt)
  • Lips: SlackGirl NeNe Lips Set 1 (bought at the Akeruka store)
  • Choker: Nina Choker by RxK (free from the excellent freebie store at Ajuda SL Brasil; this landmark should help direct you to the panel from the landing point)
  • Minidress: Red Latex Mini by Daddy’s Choice Designs (free gift from a previous hunt)
  • Thong: Addams Freebie Lingerie Panty (group gift)
  • Shoes: Cinzia pumps by KC Couture
  • And I decided to treat my alt to a brand new Bento animation override, the Esther AO by Vista Animations. It comes in three sizes—for slim, medium, and curvy avatars—and as a bonus, it also comes with a cellphone and a cigarette with their own built-in AOs!

The Endgame Talk Show in VRChat Celebrated Its First Anniversary

This past Wednesday, April 4th, was the one-year anniversary of the popular talk show Endgame in VRChat, so I decided to drop by and see what’s happening. The talk show, which is held every Wednesday at 7:00 pm Pacific Time, is hosted by Nomono, Poplopo, and Psych. Over the past year, Endgame topics have ranged from bitcoin and blockchain technology to virtual culture to artificial intelligence to biotechnology to transhumanism, and just about everything in between! The show has been a real success story in VRChat, and a great example of the promise of social VR platforms in fostering better communication and understanding between people.

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The topic of group discussion was: what will the world look like in 150 years? Although I did not stay until the end of the discussion, there was the usual lively debate on what we can expect our future society to look like: the impact of climate change, the use of technology to prevent aging, even the possibility of uploading our consciousness to computers.

Endgame has a website where you can go for more info about the show. There’s also an active Discord discussion channel run by the people behind Endgame, called Deep Thoughts. You can join it by clicking on this link. There’s also a list of videos of past episodes of their show on their YouTube page.

The Land Price Insanity Continues at Decentraland

Someone recently posted the following offer to sell an 80m-by-60m parcel in the initial Genesis City region in Decentraland (each red square on the map below is one 10m-by-10m piece of virtual real estate, called LAND):

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MANA is the cryptocurrency in use in Decentraland. According to this MANA to US dollar converter website, that asking price works out to:

MANA to USD 4 Apr 2018

That’s right, a million dollars for 4,800 square meters of land. Compare that with Second Life, where a 65,536 m² plot sets you back US$600.00 with a monthly fee of US$295.

The seller justifies his asking price by saying, “but there’s nothing else on the market of this size with this much land next to a road”. Keep in mind that proximity to a road is a moot point when you can usually teleport from place to place in any virtual world (but, of course, you can’t even visit Decentraland yet, let alone teleport anywhere).

The only active, functioning part of Decentraland at the moment is the land market, where people are frantically buying and selling virtual land in anticipation of making a huge profit when Decentraland actually goes live (and nobody can say when that will be, yet). Given how extremely competitive the virtual world market is, and how much further ahead most of the other platforms like Sansar, High Fidelity, and Sinespace are in terms of functionality, this is extremely risky speculation.

I notice that since my last blogpost about the Land Marketplace in Decentraland, the developers have turned off the website’s ability to sort and view the marketplace listings by most expensive first. So you can no longer easily find out what the most expensive land is selling for. Well, actually, it’s still pretty easy to see, you just select the sort by Cheapest option and scroll to the very end of the listings:

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I just keep shaking my head, and I keep watching from the sidelines.