Linden Lab just dropped a major announcement tonight!
Titled We’ve come a long way together. We can’t wait for what’s next, here’s an excerpt:
Sansar has come a long way since we started the project. In 2018 we have devoted an enormous amount of effort to improving the end-user experience, and will continue to do so.
Given those improvements, we believe we are quickly approaching the point where we want to start bringing a large number of users onto the platform. This is an important milestone for us and especially our creators. One of the foundational principles of Sansar is that creators must be able to profit from their creations. For us to make that a reality, we need to give our creators a large audience of customers.
The cornerstone of our growth effort will be to put Sansar on Steam. Steam is where more than half of the VR market goes to find software. It also is a huge pool of users who are interested in our space and are likely to have the hardware required to run Sansar. We anticipate being able to get onto Steam by the end of this year. This is a huge step for us and we’re excited to be able introduce Sansar to an even wider audience.
In order to do this, we are obligated to make significant changes to how Sansar works, especially in how the Sansar Dollar and process credit system work. These changes, will also make the credit process for Creators far more consistent and predictable. The first change is that we will be discontinuing the Sandex as of December 4, 2018.
After that date, we will be moving to a fixed conversion rate model. Creators will continue to be able to sell their work for Sansar Dollars on the Store (and soon in experiences!). Eligible creators may convert some or all of their earned Sansar Dollar balance to US dollars at a rate of S$250 to $1, and then request a USD credit to be processed in 30 days. This matches Steam’s payment timeline.
We understand that this may have an impact on the amount of revenue returned to creators compared to the Sandex. However, we believe that in the long run our creators will significantly benefit from having access to the larger Steam user base. In addition, anyone who has created their Sansar account before December 31, 2018 will receive a legacy conversion rate of S$143 to $1 until December 31, 2019, after which the conversion rate for all accounts will be S$250 to $1.
In other words, Linden Lab has decided to drop the economic model pioneered by Second Life and its LindeX exchange. A content creator has reposted this update to the official Second Life user forums, saying:
A must read for any creators with money in their accounts or that sell things on the Marketplace. Since I have over 400 items on there it is going to take a fair amount of work to reprice things. Hopefully everyone still active there will know about this. Please spread the word.
Obviously, Linden Lab is betting the farm that putting Sansar on Steam will lead to an influx of new users with cash to spend. They’ve weighed the pros and cons and they’re willing to put up with the fees that Steam will charge, in exchange for a wider audience.
I simply cannot overstate what a major change in strategy this is. And it is a total surprise to me; I certainly wasn’t expecting it!
While I am still processing this news, what do you think? Please leave a comment on this blogpost with your thoughts and opinions, thanks!
UPDATE Oct. 30th: Landon McDowell, Linden Lab’s Chief Product Officer for Sansar, did answer a few questions in the official Sansar Discord channel. When asked if LL was going to remove Sansar Store transaction fees, he said:
Yes, the intent is to remove the store transaction fees in conjunction with this… The process credit fees will not be change[d].
When asked why they are implementing a 30-day delay in processing US$ credits, Landon answered:
The problem is that Steam operates on a 30-60 day window. If we keep it at a few days, we will be floating credit for 1-2 months. That’s an uncomfortable financial situation to be in.
And, this push sure sounds a lot like the “consumer launch” of Sansar I predicted back in April. And I note with dismay that there are still many things on my list that haven’t been implemented yet, that I would still like to see in place before this push to Steam and a much larger potential audience.
Interesting times, indeed. Stay tuned for more coverage as all this rolls out!