My Predictions For The Next Two Years

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Photo by Wyron A on Unsplash

I’ve been hanging around virtual worlds of one kind or another for over a decade now. I’ve seen them come and go. Some were spectacular failures that provided lessons for other companies. Others just kind of meander along, not attracting very many users or ever becoming very big (like the multitude of OpenSim-based grids).

What usually happens in today’s hyper-competitive computer applications marketplace, is that one or two players in a particular market segment get big (e.g. Microsoft, MySpace, Facebook, and yes, in its own way, Second Life), and then continue to grow like a juggernaut, based on the network effect, while the smaller players in the marketplace fight each other over the leftovers. The ones who get big are usually, but not always, the early entrants into the field (Second Life is a prime example of that, although there were notable virtual worlds which were founded before it, like ActiveWorlds).

But social VR and virtual worlds are not a zero-sum game. Many consumers are frequent visitors to a number of different metaverse platforms, and many creators build and sell products in various virtual worlds. Right now, success in one VR-capable virtual world (e.g. VRChat) generates interest in other social VR spaces. As they say, “A rising tide lifts all boats”.

It’s still not clear where all this is going, but I’m willing to polish my crystal ball and make a few predictions of what will happen over the next two year period, from now until April 2020.

What I predict will happen, over the next two years, is that one of the Big Five computer companies:

  • Alphabet/Google
  • Amazon
  • Apple
  • Facebook/Oculus*
  • Microsoft

Is either going to launch their own social VR/virtual world/metaverse product, OR is going to buy one of the Big Four metaverse-building companies:

  • High Fidelity
  • Linden Lab (Second Life and Sansar)
  • Sine Wave Entertainment (Sinespace)
  • VRChat

(We’ve already seen this happen with Microsoft’s purchase of AltspaceVR.) We could also see a company buy out a virtual world, just to grab the programming talent, and then shut the world down completely (as Yahoo! did with the promising Cloud Party).

Now, there’s no guarantee that any of the Big Four companies WANT to be bought out by the Big Five. Perhaps instead of a buyout, a strategic partnership deal will be inked. But I bet you anything that it’s tempting for the bigger companies to buy their way into the evolving metaverse marketplace, rather than design something from scratch.

I also predict that a LOT of the new virtual world/social VR startups we see popping up are going to fail over the next two years. There’s a lot of virtual-reality-related (and especially blockchain-related) hype taking place, and some people are investing in startups that are risky. Some smaller companies have jumped into grand virtual-world-building projects without realizing the sheer magnitude of the work involved in creating a fully-featured, viable metaverse. I’m afraid that some investors are going to get burned.

I also predict that Sinespace and VRChat are going to pull ahead in terms of features, simply because they decided to build on top of the popular Unity game engine, and they can use all the cool Unity development tools that are popping up. By comparison, feature development on Sansar will be slower as they continue work in-house on their own engine.

And finally, I expect that Second Life’s 15th anniversary celebrations will entice some former users to dust off their old accounts and revisit the platform to see what’s new. It may well herald a renaissance for SL! At the very least, it will help stave off a slow decline in SL’s user concurrency figures.

*Sorry, but as I have said before, Facebook Spaces is not a palatable social VR/virtual world product. It can’t even come close to competing against what High Fidelity, Second Life, Sinespace and VRChat are currently doing. But I bet you anything that Facebook has other plans up their sleeve. They can still try to leverage off their 2-billion-plus Facebook network (not to mention 800 million Instagram users) to become a potential major disruptor in the evolving metaverse marketplace. I’m not counting them out yet!

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Blast from the Past: A Look Back at Cloud Party

As I mentioned before, I used to create clothing for male and female avatars in the late, lamented virtual world called Cloud Party. Well, what image should Facebook offer up as a memory today but this one, a screen capture of my online store in Cloud Party!

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(Cloud Party shut down for good on February 21st, 2014. I still miss the place sometimes. I first met several people there that I now know on Sansar.)

I gave away my clothing for free then, and I always got a small thrill whenever I saw someone else wearing something that I had made! That was back in 2012/2013, my first foray into virtual fashion. I find it very fitting that this image comes up unexpectedly again as I embark on a new adventure in virtual fashion design in a new virtual world, Sansar!

The Importance of Dreams

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“You are never too old to set another goal or to dream a new dream.”
C.S. Lewis

I have a dream, and now that the Fashion Release of Sansar has happened, I want to share my dream with you, my blog readers.

My dream is to become a fashion designer for virtual worlds.

I first put my toe in the water back in the Cloud Party days, when I tried my hand at making clothing for male and female avatars in that virtual world, using a student version of Maya. I’m afraid I wasn’t very skilled at it, but I did teach myself enough to make a few garments. These pictures of my creations are from my now-closed blog, the Cloud Party Bugle:

That was back in 2012. When Yahoo! bought out Cloud Party and the virtual world closed its doors, I put that dream aside. I did fiddle with retexturing clothing in Second Life, but I never took it very seriously.

But when I first heard about Marvelous Designer, and saw what the software could do, I became excited. And now that Linden Lab has announced the integration of MD with Sansar, the time has finally come for me to pursue my dream in earnest.

So—before I even start making clothing—I want to declare the launch of my first (well, technically, second) virtual fashion brand!

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RSVF stands for Ryan Schultz Virtual Fashion (it also stands for Ryan Schultz/Vanity Fair, my female “supermodel” alt which I have carried over from Second Life to Sansar). And I plan to document every step as I work my way up the learning curve, here on the Sansar Newsblog, just as I did back in the Cloud Party days.

I think it’s important to have dreams. And now is the time for me to follow mine. Please wish me luck!

Outfit Outlay: Cowgirl

Way back in the day (ohhh, let’s say 2012 through 2014), I used to write a blog about the late, lamented virtual world called Cloud Party.  (It was great fun while it lasted, and I was sad to see them go.  They were swallowed up by Yahoo!)

The blog was called Cloud Party Bugle, and one of the regular features I used to have was called Outfit Outlay, in which I discussed each of the individual items that made up an avatar’s outfit, and explained where to get them and how much they cost.

Well, it’s time to resurrect Outfit Outlay again, this time for the new virtual world of Sansar, and for my first avatar fashion presentation, I give you: the Cowgirl.

Outfit Outlay Cowgirl 2 August 2017

My female alt, Vanity Fair (named after my fashion model avatar in Second Life), is wearing the Western Outfit for Female Avatar, now available from the Sansar Store by Sansar Studios for S$400.  The outfit comes complete with top, jeans, boots, belt and two bracelets.  The detail work is really remarkable.  The cowboy hat and blonde pigtails hairstyle come as one item, the Western Hat for Female Avatar, also available from the Sansar Store by Sansar Studios for S$100.  The finishing touches are the blue dangle earrings, available for free under the Accessories tab when you customize your basic avatar:

Blue Dangly Earrings Attachment 2 August 2017

Just click on the bracelet icon along the left-hand side, then click on the little ear along the top and you’ll see it as an option to add to your avatar.

The top photo of Vanity in this blogpost was taken in a beautiful rustic experience called Bella Vista, created by Winter Loxely.