Anyland Is In Financial Trouble

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One of the creators of the social VR platform Anyland has posted to the Vive subReddit on Reddit, in a last-ditch attempt to get financial support (here’s a link):

Hi! Due to challenging financial times for us… if you are interested in investing in Anyland, or know someone who might be, or know of any other type of financial help or partnership, please email us at we@anyland.com or chime in below! We are hoping to bridge the time until VR goes fully mainstream, and while we have the server bills covered, our most pressing need right now are the two-person development costs. This is all of your universe, so we want to be very open about this. On that note, thanks to everyone who is in Anyland, and thanks to all who support our Patreon. Thank you, and with ❤!

My first thought on reading this plea was “Wow, if they’re holding on to the hope that VR is going to go mainstream anytime soon, they’re doomed.” It’s increasingly clear that large-scale VR uptake is going to take several years and perhaps a decade, or even longer.

And, as I have suggested before, right now there are just too many companies chasing after too few willing consumers in the social VR/virtual worlds marketplace (just look at all the products on my list). Unfortunately, some of these companies are just not going to make it.

Anyland is an interesting platform, and they do offer a pretty good selection of in-world “prim building” content creation tools. But unfortunately, that’s not enough. In response to a question about whether or not Anyland was free, the creator responded:

Yeah definitely! After a month, you can then choose to go for an optional in app purchase (but even if everyone were to buy that, it wouldn’t be enough as the overall numbers are a bit too low at the moment). It was paid first, then we made it free after the sales went to near zero, which happened some time after launch.

It sounds to me as if Anyland’s days are indeed numbered. One commenter had the following advice for the Anyland development team:

You’re not going to like this advice but coming from someone who has built a number of companies – and who passed on building one and investing in several others in the VR industry – I would strongly consider what I’m about to tell you:

Pull the plug. Shut down. Add the awesome experience you’ve gained to your resume and get a real job. Rest and reflect.

Note I didn’t say that you should start something new. Not right now anyway. Based on other comments you’ve made, I don’t think you’re ready. Running a successful business is less about the actual work and more about identifying a value prop and creating a sustainable business model. That’s going to be tough because you’re starting out in a tiny market which has massive acquisition and sustainability problems of its own. Right from the bat, the chances of your success have gone down to nearly nil. Again, I know this because I researched the VR industry in depth, spoke to many investors and entrepreneurs in the space, and they all told me the same thing: VR might hit one day, but not now. Maybe 5 or 10 years. Not now.

So you have a tiny audience to start with and only a small percentage of them are going to pay for something like this. You can’t monetize through advertising and the like because the userbase is too small and the recurring visits are basically nonexistent. And as you’ve now learned, money is the blood of business. You can’t live without it.

So trust me, the easiest path forward for you right now is to just pull the band-aid off and quit. It’s not going to get better. Don’t listen to the fans who are happy to let you go on and suffer. Do the right thing for yourself.

And in any case, please don’t take this is a criticism. I applaud you for trying. Get some much needed R&R, keep learning and try again. You’ll make it. I’m sure of it.

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IMVU: A Brief Introduction

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IMVU is one of those virtual worlds that is constantly being compared to Second Life. IMVU was started in 2004, just one year after Second Life opened its doors to the public. Through the years, there has been a friendly (and sometimes not-so-friendly) rivalry between the two platforms. IMVU folks tend to put down SL, and vice versa.

The biggest difference between the two platforms is that in Second Life, you can move your avatar around freely, whereas in IMVU, you can only have your avatar jump from node to node in a room, where a node may be a pose, an animation, or just a simple place to stand or sit. You can’t move around freely, and it’s one of the reasons I never liked IMVU or got into it, personally.

But apparently, a lot of other people do like it. According to this IMVU FAQ, the platform has over 50 million registered users, 10 million unique visitors per month and three million monthly active users (December 2016 statistics). Those figures would place IMVU behind only Second Life as the second most popular virtual world. (Second Life has 57 million registered user accounts, according to statistics released for their 15th-anniversary celebration.)

One thing that sets IMVU apart from Second Life is that you can also run it on mobile devices (iOS and Android) as well as on the desktop. Being able to access IMVU from your cellphone is a big reason why IMVU is still so popular.

One thing that both Second Life and IMVU do have in common is a creative, healthy avatar fashion market. Here’s a snapshot of my IMVU avatar, which I created late last year on a lark, who has got that whole Miami Vice look going on:

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Basically, IMVU is a series of three-dimensional chatrooms. You select a chatroom from the list (e.g. a nightclub) and join in the conversation that is taking place there. That’s really pretty much all there is to it. Here’s an example of a chatroom in IMVU:

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(Yes, like Twinity, you have the word “Guest” prefixed to your username unless you pay to become a VIP member. Most people don’t seem to bother.)

Now, you could argue that Second Life is basically a glorified chatroom too, but that omits the many rich subcultures—everything from motorcycle clubs to pro wrestling—that currently exist in SL. I would argue that you can do a lot more in Second Life than just chat!

If you’re interested in exploring IMVU, visit their website and download a client for your desktop or mobile device (you can also run IMVU from your web browser). The company website features an active community forum as well as a blog called IMVU Insider, which covers news and events in the virtual world.

Sansar, Intel, and the Smithsonian Institution Present the Art of Burning Man

Today it was announced that Sansar and Intel have created a faithful reproduction of the art of No Spectators: The Art of Burning Man, which is an exhibit currently on display at the Smithsonian American Art Museum in Washington, D.C. VentureBeat reports:

The VR exhibit is part of the Smithsonian’s mission to reach a billion people with its art, and virtual reality is one of the ways that the museum will accomplish that mission, said Nora Atkinson, who was in Washington D.C. but still managed to do an interview with me and another reporter inside the Sansar VR space. She showed us through the museum, which we could view in 360 degrees. I was at Linden Lab’s headquarters in San Francisco for the demo, while Atkinson was across the country. Yet I could hear her and see her animated character, or avatar, as we walked around in the 3D space in virtual reality.

“What’s different about VR is you can go up to a work of art and get right next to it or touch it,”said Atkinson, Lloyd Herman curator of craft at the Renwick Gallery, said. “That’s not something you can do in the museum.”

Intel’s press release adds:

Intel and the Smithsonian American Art Museum* (SAAM) will allow audiences to take an immersive dive into some of the country’s most treasured art and history through virtual reality (VR). Together, they will transform the future of education and the museum experience by digitizing and providing broader 3D access to collections from SAAM and its branch museum, the Renwick Gallery*, starting with the exhibition, “No Spectators: The Art of Burning Man.”

“Virtual reality will bring about cutting-edge computing experiences and accelerate new possibilities for how people will explore and interact with the world around them. As the technology evolves, immersive museum experiences will become the norm. Bridging physical and digital worlds to study American art in classrooms around the globe is just a first step in exploring what is possible when we combine the Smithsonian American Art Museum’s passion for education with Intel’s innovation.”
– John Bonini, vice president and general manager, VR, Gaming & Esports at Intel Corporation

This partnership, introduced at VRLA in Los Angeles, will begin with the Renwick Gallery’s current exhibition, “No Spectators: The Art of Burning Man,” to showcase how Intel technology and virtual reality will transform the future of the museum experience. The ultimate vision is to share this technology across the Smithsonian Institution and further digitize more of its 157 million objects.

Intel’s advanced technologies will accelerate SAAM’s existing process of 3D digital capture and increase access to its collections with the help of powerful 8th Generation Intel Core processors, cloud-based platforms and more. The shared goal is to increase and encourage 24/7 access to the museum, affording educators, other museums and public audiences the opportunity to become immersed in some of America’s most treasured collections as if they were standing in the galleries themselves.

(It does seem rather odd to me that Sansar is only mentioned once in the entire Intel press release about their partnership with the Smithsonian.)

Here are a few pictures from the new Sansar experience, which is called No Spectators: The Art of Burning Man.

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In a nice touch, a corridor off to one side of one of the galleries actually teleports you to the Black Rock Desert of Nevada, where you can see some of these Burning Man artworks in their original setting:

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I look forward to further exhibits by the Smithsonian Institution in Sansar, as a result of their new partnership with Intel! I leave you with a short promotional video for the project, featuring Jason Gholston, Linden Lab’s Head of Sansar Studios:

NOTE: You can install the Sansar software client, if you don’t already have it, at https://www.sansar.com/download. And then you can visit and explore this experience by searching for “Smithsonian” in the Sansar Atlas, or just by clicking this link: No Spectators: The Art of Burning Man.

Sansar Pick of the Day: Kandy Land Maze

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Start of the Kandy Land Maze

Today’s Pick of the Day is another entry in the Sansar Labyrinth contest. The Kandy Land Maze created by KaindyBrainz features a rotating elevator as your first challenge, and then it gets even more challenging as you face a succession of sliding rooms, and then row after row of maddening revolving doors!

I must confess that I never made it to the end of this maze, but it sure was fun trying! Perhaps you’ll have better luck than I did?