It would appear that Linden Lab has contracted with an external consulting firm to interview Sansar users. Someone on the official Sansar Discord server mentioned that they had received an email and wanted to know if it was legitimate or a scam.
I was curious and I did a little digging around in my email inbox, and lo and behold, there was this email message from three days ago:
The agency checks out; here is Twofivesix’s website. They appear to be a gaming consulting firm, with a focus on videogames, esports, and virtual reality. Shortly afterward, Derrick Linden posted an official announcement to Discord:
Some of you have already reached out about this, but as a general heads up: we’re working with an outside firm at the moment to help gather and distill user feedback—all part of a broader research effort. If you have received an email from TwoFiveSix that mentions a survey, do not be alarmed – you are NOT being phished! This is a REAL opportunity to share what you think. Big thanks to those of you who’ve gotten in touch, and those of you who’ve already taken the survey! Feel free to drop us a line with any questions you have.
So I decided to fill out Twofivesix’s application form. They are operating on a verytight timeline; they basically want to complete all their hourlong user interviews between January 15th and 22nd! So please go check your email inbox for a message from them, and fill out the application if you wish to be considered for an interview and a US$50 AMEX gift card. What have you got to lose?
I do find it rather reassuring that Linden Lab has hired a professional consulting firm to get more feedback about how people feel about Sansar and what they would like to see happen on the platform. Involving a neutral third party which anonymizes answers might make it easier for negative comments and feedback to be submitted to, and heard by, the company.
It’s no secret that this is a do-or-die, make-or-break period for Linden Lab’s Sansar, especially given the rather lacklustre response to the platform’s launch on Steam so far. They’ve now got to pull out all the stops when it comes to figuring out what factors will make Sansar a success, and what things will drive people away.
Today’s the day. Our Sansar Dollar Conversion page is officially live!
What this means, in a nutshell: creators like you can once again convert their Earned Sansar dollars into US dollars.
How this differs from our old Sandex system:
Earned Sansar dollars represent the Sansar dollars you’ve made from selling items in the Sansar Store. Only Earned Sansar dollars are eligible to be converted into US dollars. Earned Sansar dollars can be converted into USD here.
Sansar dollars that were bought, received as a gift, or received through a promotion do not count as Earned Sansar dollars. As an exception, any Sansar dollars you have before today have been automatically converted into Earned Sansar dollars, regardless of how you acquired them.
When spending or gifting Sansar dollars in Sansar, you automatically draw from non-earned dollars first before spending any Earned Sansar dollars. This is to maximize the amount of Sansar dollars eligible for conversion when the time comes.
As stated in our December blog, the conversion rate from S$ to USD will be S$250:$1. 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.
We’ve also re-enabled the Process Credit page to allow you to initiate moving USD to your PayPal account. Please allow up to 30 days to complete a request.
One thing that strikes me immediately is that this new policy unfairly penalizes musical performers and other people who receive tips or gratuities in Sansar dollars from audience members. From now on, income received as a gift does NOT count as “earned Sansar dollars”, and will not be able to be cashed out as U.S. dollars. I think that this is a short-sighted decision on Linden Lab’s part, which might negatively impact the use of the platform by musical performers and other entertainers.
Also short-sighted is the decision that Sansar dollars “received through a promotion” would no longer be eligible to be exchanged into U.S. dollars. This means that, from now on, any contest prizes of Sansar dollars can no longer be cashed out of the system.
On a more positive note, it does look as though people will now be able to move their earned U.S. dollars to their PayPal accounts, which is something that many people have long been waiting for. However, it’s not clear whether or not non-Steam users will be able to buy Sansar dollars via their PayPal accounts, or if they are still restricted to credit cards (from what I understand, Sansar users who downloaded the client from Steam are able to use PayPal to buy Sansar dollars using their Steam wallet).
Today’s Product Meetup was held at the brand new, attractively designed, and futuristic Sansar Social Hub (which is a new feature of today’s client update). The Social Hub is accessible via a teleporter from the Lookbook space when you first log in:
I’m really glad that Linden Lab decided to do this; I know that they had been reluctant to create a social hub in the past, but I think it’s a necessity for a (relatively) new platform that wants to engage its users and encourage them to mingle.
It also counters the commonly-heard complaint that Sansar is “deserted” and “empty”. What better way to address that than to create an easily-accessible space where people can touch base with each other? I know that I will be spending time at the Social Hub to meet up with friends and to greet and welcome newcomers, and I’m sure I’m not the only one who plans to do so. (I used to do this all the time at Cloud Party‘s social hub back in the day, and I met many interesting people that way, including people who are now in Sansar.)
This was also the first Product Meetup since Linden Lab announced that Sansar’s Community Manager, Eliot, was no longer with the company. It remains to be seen whether LL will post the position on their careers website, or fill the vacancy from within. Being a Community Manager for such a fractious, demanding clientele can often be a thankless task. I’d like to take this opportunity to thank Eliot for his hard work, and I wish him well in his future endeavours, whatever they may be.