The Perks of Virtual World/Social VR Premium Memberships: Are They Worth It? What Do You Get?

Second Life (which I still consider to be the perfect model of the mature, fully-evolved virtual world that the companies creating the newer social VR platforms would be wise to study) has two levels of membership: Basic (free), and Premium. How Premium membership in Second Life works: for US$99 a year (or $32.97 quarterly, or $11.99 monthly), you get a set of benefits and perks over free, Basic user accounts:

Second Life Premium Membership (source)

VRChat is another platform that decided to offer a comparably-priced paid premium membership level last December, called VRChat Plus (which I first wrote about here). Now, upon first reading of the perks such a membership would offer me (see below), I was less than impressed (probably because I have been spoiled by all the goodies Second Life Premium memberships offer me in comparison).

Among the (relatively) small number of features for VRChat Plus users is the ability to set a user icon to display in a circle next to your user name:

But in conversation with Voices of VR podcaster Kent Bye last night via Zoom, he raised a point that I had hitherto failed to consider, Given my well-documented, one-man, scorched-earth campaign against Facebook and Oculus for, among other things, forcing Oculus headset users to get Facebook accounts and their toxic advertising-based business model which scrapes and strip-mines users’ personal data, why would I not support an alternative way for VRChat to earn a profit?

I stopped to think of what VRChat would be like with Facebook-like advertising, and I positively shuddered in revulsion. So this evening, I pulled out my credit card and ponied up for a VRChat Plus membership (US$99.99), so I now have the familiar “red Ryan” logo displayed next to my username in world (which has sort of become an icon for my brand, as I use it everywhere else, too). If it helps other users in VRChat recognize who I am, then I think it’s worthwhile.

My familiar “red Ryan” user icon

So, I have decided to do a quick survey of the major social VR and virtual world platforms, and find out whether or not they offer a paid premium service, and if so, what you get for your money.

Second Life

My alt Moesha Heartsong, sitting on the porch of her lovely Victorian Linden Home on the continent of Bellisseria (one of the many nice perks you get with your Second Life Premium membership)

Second Life Premium membership (currently priced at US$99 a year) offers you the following benefits:

  • A weekly L$300 stipend (basically enough to buy a nice outfit or pair of shoes for your avatar every week)
  • A L$1,000 sign-up bonus for first-time Premium users (can only be used once)
  • Priority entry when regions/sims are full of avatars (in other words, if a Basic user and a Premium user both try to get into a packed sim at the same time, the Premium user gets priority; this comes in handy at crowded shopping events, and I have made use of this perk often!)
  • A 1024m² virtual land allotment for use towards a nice starter Linden Home or a parcel on the Second Life mainland; this is another benefit I do take advantage of!
  • Expanded live-chat customer support (which I have used on occasion!)
  • Premium virtual gifts (frankly, kinda useless to me)
  • Exclusive access to Premium areas and experiences (such as building sandboxes)
  • Increased cap on missed IMs (which I never use)
  • Increased group membership limits (I make use of my groups ALL THE TIME! A freebie fashionista can NEVER have too many free group slots for store groups, freebie groups, etc. Basic accounts have 42 group slots, but Premium has 70;)
  • Voice morphing (never used it, myself; most SL users never use voice, anyways)
  • UPDATE 11:36 p.m.: Animesh (animated mesh) creator Medhue tells me that SL Premium members can attach two animesh items (e.g. pets such as Medhue’s delightful animesh cihuahua), while Basic members can only attach one.

Basically, I have three Premium accounts, with two lovely Linden Homes between them (which I think is the major benefit of a Premium membership). More group space and priority access to overcrowded sims are also perks I tend to use a lot.

Sansar

Sansar offers three levels of premium subscriptions (unchanged from when Linden lab owned the platform), which give you:

  • A 45-day free trial of the Marvelous Designer software (used to create avatar clothing in Sansar)
  • Purchase discounts on Marvelous Designer for when you do decide to buy it
  • An increase in the number of Sansar worlds you can create (frankly, I’m not sure most people bother beyond the free Basic account, which lets you create up to 25 worlds)
  • Expedited user support options

Sinespace

The Unity-based Sinespace virtual world/social VR platform, created by Sine Wave Entertainment, offers a truly overwhelming number of Premium levels to choose from:

Premium users can create larger regions/worlds, have a larger number of regions active at one time, and get priority support and user-created content processing and approval, among other benefits.

AltspaceVR

Surprisingly, Microsoft-owned AltspaceVR doesn’t seem to offer any premium accounts (that may change in the future, though).

VRChat

VRChat Plus offers you the following perks (with more promised soon):

  • A nameplate icon: With VRChat+, you can personalize your nameplate with an icon you create! Snap a pic in VRChat or upload your own image on our website.
  • You can send a picture with an invitation to a friend to join you at your location
  • Free slots for up to 100 favourite avatars (as opposed to 25 for basic users)
  • “A limited edition VRCat Badge to display on your profile” (Really? Really?!??)
  • A higher trust ranking in VRChat’s Safety and Trust System

As I said up top, this list is a bit sparse, especially compared to what Second Life offers (and yes, you can be an anime girl in SL, just as easily as you can in VRChat!), but of course, there’s zero VR support in Second Life.

Rec Room

Rec Room offers something called Rec Room Plus at US$7.99 a month, which includes the following benefits:

  • You get 6000 tokens (r6000) monthly, delivered in installments of r1500 per week
  • One four-star gift box per week
  • A 10% discount in Rec Room stores that accept tokens
  • Exclusive access to the RR+ section of the item store
  • 100 saved outfit slots
  • The ability to sell premium inventions/keys for tokens

NeosVR

NeosVR uses Patreon levels to hand out perks to various levels of paying users (more info). For example, at my current “Blade Runner” level ($6 per month), I get:

  • Access to private channels on the official Discord Server
  • Patreon supporter badge in Neos
  • Early access to Linux builds
  • Early Access to Patreon only content (exclusive experiences, work in progress experiences before they’re public)
  • A Neos Mini account with 25 GB of storage
  • Your name in the stars! (your name will appear in the sky in the Neos hub)
  • 30 Neos Credits (NCR) monthly, accumulates

(Note that there is an even less expensive level, the “Agent Smith” level, at just $1 a month. Please check out the NeosVR Patreon page for more details.)

ENGAGE

The ENGAGE educational/corporate/conference social VR platform offers a free, “lite” version, and a premium, “plus” version for €4.99 a month, which gives you space to save your presentations, among other benefits. (They also offer enterprise and educational rates on request.)

Blockchain-Based Virtual Worlds (Cryptovoxels, Decentraland, and Somnium Space)

Of course, the various blockchain-based virtual worlds sell everything using whatever cryptocurrencies they support (for example, a custom, non-randomly-generated avatar username in Decentraland will set you back 100 MANA, Decentraland’s in-world cryptocurrency (which is about US$36 at current exchange rates). It’s just a completely different model than the “freemium” ones offered above.


Thanks to Kent Bye for giving me the idea for this blogpost!

UPDATED! Black Friday Sales in Second Life, Sinespace, and Cryptovoxels

Have you joined the RyanSchultz.com Discord yet? You’re invited to be a part of the first ever cross-worlds discussion group, with over 460 people participating from every single social VR platform and virtual world! More details here


Photo by Tim Mossholder on Unsplash

Checking my WordPress statistics for this blog, I have seen a lot of traffic this week from people looking for Black Friday sales in Second Life and other virtual worlds, so I have decided to compile this blogpost.

PLEASE NOTE: If you have a virtual Black Friday sale you wish to promote, please just add a comment to this blogpost, thank you! I will NOT be constantly updating this blogpost with details on individual store sales, I don’t have time this week!


Second Life

UPDATE November 28th, 2020: If you are looking for the ultimate list of Second Life Black Friday sales, this Google Docs spreadsheet lists 366 stores in alphabetical order, giving SLURLs, sale start and end dates, and in a few cases, sale details.

UPDATE November 26th, 2020: The Fabulously Free in SL blog has just published their annual FabFree Black Friday Sale Listing, which is quite comprehensive!

UPDATE November 25th, 2020: Perhaps the most comprehensive sales listing has been published by the TeleportHub.com group, and is called the Black Friday Weekend Sale 2020. Over 130 Second Life stores are in this listing:


I want to profusely thank Holger Gilruth, who operates the Secondlife Discord server and the popular Secondlife group on Facebook (with nearly 15,000 members). As some of you already know, I have decided to personally boycott of Facebook and Oculus products and services, so I am no longer on the Facebook social network, and I am therefore no longer a member of any of the many Second Life groups there.

Holger was kind enough to share with me via Discord chat this morning, just a few of the Black Friday sales which were posted today in his Secondlife group on Facebook (and if you still have a Facebook account, you can use the link I posted above to visit and join his group):

TROPIX (SLURL):

YM SHOP (SLURL):

Pose Shoppe (SLURL):

Blackstone (SLURL):

PRETTY LIARS (SLURL):

Red’s Little Secrets (SLURL):

In other news, LeLutka is having a 50% Off Black Friday Sale on all their mesh heads from November 27th to 29th (SLURL). Thank you to Kira for the tip!

Daisy Haven shared with me that AVALE is having a 50% Off Sale, starting today and running until November 27th (SLURL):

Daisy also tells me that CHSkins (SLURL) is having a 50% refund sale (except gachas), on now until Nov. 30th. Thanks, Daisy!

Ari-Pari is having a Black Friday sale running from November 27th through December 1st. Gift cards will be 50% off and new releases will be 25% off. This sale is only at the Ari-Pari main store (SLURL). Thanks to Wyld for the heads-up!

Asia Ristow has sent me a link to a Flickr gallery with images of Black Friday 2020 sales in Second Life, compiled by Galaxy Doll, which you might find useful…and Asia also provided the following short list of noteworthy sales:

7 Deadly sKins – http://maps.secondlife.com/secondlife/Shadow%20Crest/129/44/41
BLACK FRIDAY 10 LINDEN skin offer of the day https://gyazo.com/54b5dd3ee6b11fda80c5bdba311fa718
http://maps.secondlife.com/secondlife/Shadow%20Crest/129/44/41 

Cheeky Pea – http://maps.secondlife.com/secondlife/Cheeky%20Pea/27/133/21
Gift cards purchased from the special Black Friday Gift Card Stand are 50% off for everyone, and VIP members get an EXTRA 10% off! (Make sure you wear your tag!)

LOGO’s free heads are still available until the 26th.  http://maps.secondlife.com/secondlife/Eventide%20Far%20East/182/76/800

Magika – http://maps.secondlife.com/secondlife/Magika/
Get an instant refund of 30% on all mainstore purchases during Magika’s annual Black Friday sale. This applies to everything except group offers and gift cards.  20 – 30 November, 2020.

THIS IS WRONG – http://maps.secondlife.com/secondlife/Infinite%20Spirit/95/87/1101
This year we want to make something special for you! From Nov 26th to Nov 30th all shines @ the inworld store will be 40% OFF!!!

TOP1SALON & ROULY – http://maps.secondlife.com/secondlife/Ocean%20Drive/131/145/188Starting the 21st BIG BLACK FRIDAY SALE 60% off! Sales continue until November 30th. But also in each of the stores, one of the products will cost 25L$ these products will change each everyday of the sale from 21 to 30 November.

Thank you so much, Asia!

MoonBubble of the SL New Release Feed Discord server (here’s an invite link) tells me that she been adding quite a few Black Friday sales to her #store-sales channel, and she plans to add more this week. Thanks, Moon!

Bixyl (who is a member of the RyanSchultz.com Discord server) tells me that there is a Black Friday sale at Furry Fashion (SLURL). Thanks, Bixyl!

And Bleue reached out to me on Discord to tell me about Salem:

My name is Bleue. Blogger Manager at Salem. I am reaching out as I saw that you’re sharing Black Friday sales on your blog site. Salem is starting its sale soon, and I was wondering if I could share the ad with you once it’s released? From there, could you help me spread the word about Salem? If possible? Thank you for your attention to this matter!

Official Flickr: https://www.flickr.com/photos/157510866@N08/ Official Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/Salem.Secondlife

The sale will commence on the 26th of this month. It’ll be 35% off the whole store, excluding gachas and new releases.

Thanks, Bleue!

Morbid Emor also contacted me regarding MOEKO, MORBID, and Stargazer:

Hi. I saw your message about Black Friday on the Second Life Syndicate channel. I love your blog – this is such an awesome idea. I have two brands, MORBID & MOEKO, and am business partner with Aggie Mactavish with Stargazer. We have Black Friday sales and have also just moved to some awesome new stores as well. I’m giving you the details here.

MORBID: Black Friday – week long sale from 25 Nov – 2 Dec – 50% off everything including gachas to celebrate move to new awesome store. Brand new group gifts, weekly sales. SLURL: http://maps.secondlife.com/secondlife/Venus/147/215/1302

Stargazer: Black Friday sales to celebrate move to new store: 50L select items, 100L skins, 40L gachas – 27-29 Nov SLURL: http://maps.secondlife.com/secondlife/Venus/165/19/1354

MOEKO: Black Friday – week long sale from 25 Nov – 2 Dec – 50% off everything including gachas and gift cards to celebrate move to new store. Brand new group gifts, weekly sales. SLURL: http://maps.secondlife.com/secondlife/Venus/150/153/1302

Session – http://maps.secondlife.com/secondlife/kunst/177/185/23 Session will have 10 popular skins at Black Friday Sale from November 27th till 30th ♥ Get your discount with the Skin addiction tag!

Thank you, Morbid!

LALA sent me information about the Black Friday sales at LeiMotiv and Ariskea (both are links to Flickr images), and she added that there was a big sale at mesh head maker LAQ:

LAQ is also currently having a 75% off everything members only sale, they didn’t specify when it ends.

Thanks, LALA!

Kieran Stephens mentions that Booty’s Beauty is having a Black Friday sale from Nov. 25th to 27th. Here’s links to her in-world store and SL Marketplace store.

Also, the Second Life vlogger mzjazzy maii (a.k.a BunnyBoo) has compiled a very helpful list of stores which are having Black Friday sales in the following 12-minute YouTube video (there’s a list of the stores and SLURLs in the full video description):

And finally, although it is not technically a Good Friday sale, I have been informed that Ellnique Designs is closing. The owner tells me:

CLOSING DOWN SALE: everything L$25! With a heavy heart I am closing down Ellnique Designs (was Shoenique Designs) [after] 11 years of hard work. Now I am moving to Sansar and taking my designs there. More than welcome to join me. Thanks to all Members that have supported me for 9 years in Second Life. Everything L$25! Official closing day 31st December. http://maps.secondlife.com/secondlife/Mimosa%20Island/231/219/350


Sinespace

Gaby, the owner of Anatomy mesh heads and bodies, and PrettyDeceased apparel, tells me:

Pretty Deceased & Anatomy are still 50% off, decided to leave it also for Black Friday.

Thanks, Gaby! I have written about the Anatomy line of female heads and bodies before, here on my blog.


Cryptovoxels

If you are in the blockchain-based virtual world of Cryptovoxels, you might be interested in the following: JuRo Noble Arts is having a 50% Off Sale: Noyb, the proprietor, tells me:

Hey, about [those] Black Friday deals in the metaverse…We will have half price on our NFT purchases through Cryptovoxels from Friday to Monday.

Here’s your taxi to JuRo Nobel Arts!


Photo by Ashkan Forouzani on Unsplash

Editorial: Upon Reflection…

Taking a much-needed break from blogging has given me an opportunity to reflect a bit on my journey over the past three years, and ponder where I might go from here.

Photo by Joshua Earle on Unsplash

Frankly, I never expected to become a journalist covering the ever-evolving metaverse, with a growing audience; this blog started off as a tiny little niche blog, where I wrote about my (mis)adventures and explorations in Sansar. And everything that happened after that—writing about more and more social VR platforms, hosting the Metaverse Newscast show, focusing on freebies in my beloved Second Life—just kind of happened organically. I didn’t have any sort of plan; I just made choices along the way that led to this point.

But for me, the seeds for this journey were first planted in Second Life 14 years ago, which since its earliest days has been this strange and marvelous phoenix that keeps rising from the ashes, again and again, confounding and bewildering many casual observers who continue to predict (wrongly) its failure. Even a cursory glance at the official Second Life Community News feed (curated by the highly capable Strawberry Linden) reveals the absolute torrent of creativity that the platform has provided to so many people. Second Life is not going anywhere, honey.

Source: My Dark Fantasy

SL is a fully-evolved, vibrant, mature virtual world which has become the model which other metaverse companies have spent countless programming hours and (in some cases) millions of dollars to try and recreate, with varying degrees of success.

I think that the ones that have been the most successful (so far) are NeosVR, ENGAGE, AltspaceVR, VRChat, Rec Room and, somewhat to my surprise, three blockchain-based worlds: Cryptovoxels, Decentraland, and Somnium Space. And there are many other platforms slowly but surely building up their business, taking advantage of the unexpected opportunities presented by the coronavirus pandemic (one example is Sinespace, a company which is patiently and cannily playing the long game, and which is extremely well-poised to snatch Second Life’s mantle, if and when it is ever dropped).


And, during my break, I have been also thinking a lot about Facebook/Oculus and their impact on virtual reality in general, and social VR in particular. I have decided that, despite my new, personal boycott of Facebook products and services, I will continue to write about their upcoming social VR platform, Facebook Horizon, as it launches in public beta, probably before the end of this year.

I, like many other people, now absolutely refuse to have a Facebook account as a matter of moral principle. In August of 2019 I wrote (and yes, it bears repeating at length here):

In this evolving metaverse of social VR and virtual worlds, is too much power concentrated in the hands of a single, monolithic, profit-obsessed company? I would argue that Facebook is aiming for complete and utter domination of the VR universe, just as they already have in the social networking space, by creating a walled ecosystem…that will have a negative impact on other companies trying to create and market VR apps and experiences. The field is already tilted too much in Facebook’s favour, and the situation could get worse.

More concerning to me is that, at some point, I may be forced to get an account on the Facebook social network to use apps on my Oculus VR hardware. In fact, this has already happened with the events app Oculus Venues, which I recently discovered requires you to have an account on the Facebook social network to access.

Sorry, but after all the Facebook privacy scandals of the past couple of years, that’s a big, fat “Nope!” from me. I asked Facebook to delete its 13 years of user data on me, and I quit the social network in protest as my New Year’s resolution last December, and I am never coming back. And I am quite sure that many of Facebook’s original users feel exactly the same way, scaling back on their use of the platform or, like me, opting out completely. I regret I ever started using Facebook thirteen years ago, and that experience will inform my use (and avoidance) of other social networks in the future.

Yes, I do know that I have to have an Oculus account to be able to use my Oculus Rift and Oculus Quest VR headsets, and that Facebook is collecting data on that. I also know that the Facebook social network probably has a “shadow account” on me based on things such as images uploaded to the social network and tagged with my name by friends and family, etc., but I am going to assume that Facebook has indeed done what I have asked and removed my data from their social network. Frankly, there is no way for me to actually VERIFY this, as consumers in Canada and the U.S. have zero rights over the data companies like Facebook collects about them, as was vividly brought to life by Dr. David Carroll, whose dogged search for answers to how his personal data was misused in the Cambridge Analytica scandal played a focal role in the Netflix documentary The Great Hack (which I highly recommend you watch).

We’ve already seen how social networks such as Facebook have contributed negatively to society by contributing to the polarization and radicalization of people’s political opinions, and giving a platform to groups such as white supremacists and anti-vaxersThe Great Hack details how Cambridge Analytica used Facebook data without user knowledge or consent to swing the most recent U.S. election in Donald Trump’s favour, and look at the f***ing mess the world is in now just because of that one single, pivotal event.

We can’t trust that Facebook is going to act in any interests other than its own profit. Facebook has way too much power, and governments around the world need to act in the best interests of their citizens in demanding that the company be regulated, even broken up if necessary.

Of course, Facebook is well within its corporate rights to insist that, henceforth, Oculus Go, Quest, and Rift users have to use Facebook accounts. Just as I am well within my rights to avoid providing another smidgen of personal data for Facebook to strip-mine for profit. It will be very interesting to see how more the consumer-privacy-oriented First World countries (such as Canada, and those countries within the European Union) will respond to the Facebook juggernaut.

I also have absolutely zero doubt that Facebook will continue to use every single lawyer, lobbyist, tool and tactic at its disposal to fight to maintain its market dominance, even as the Facebook social network continues to foster divisiveness, bleed users and lose advertisers. Believe me, Facebook would not have taken the unprecedented step of forcing Oculus device users to set up Facebook accounts if they weren’t afraid of losing the younger generations of users who have, thus far, resisted joining the social network their parents and grandparents belong to. (Of course, most of them are already on Instagram, which is owned by Facebook.)

It is relatively easy to bypass the tethered Oculus Rift VR headset and its associated Oculus Store ecosystem with competing PCVR products and services (such as the Vive headsets, the Valve Index and Steam). However, it is difficult—frankly impossible at present—to find a non-Facebook alternative to the standalone Oculus Quest VR headset. I have no doubt that the market will throw up a few capable competitors to the Quest over time, but Facebook has built up a huge lead, and it will be very difficult to unseat from its dominance in that particular market segment.


So, as you can see, I have been doing quite a bit of thinking while I have hit the pause button on this blog. I will continue to spend the rest of my summer on my self-imposed vacation from this blog, and no doubt I will have other thoughts, insights and opinions to share with you when I return, hopefully feeling more refreshed.

I feel that with this blog, after a few stumbles and setbacks, I have finally found my voice, and you will continue to hear it over the next three years, and probably far beyond that! Enjoy the rest of your summer! I will be back in September.

Photo by Jason Rosewell on Unsplash

Editorial: The Licensing of Wearables in Decentraland Could Lead to a Creative Bottleneck

Watching the various blockchain-based virtual worlds evolve, and comparing and contrasting their decisions on how they wish to operate with longer-established, non-blockchain-based virtual worlds such as Second Life, has proven to be quite interesting.

Many of the eager cryptoinvestors who have bought NFTs (non-fungible tokens) such as virtual land, avatar names, and avatar wearables in places like Cryptovoxels, Decentraland and Somnium Space like to tout that their possessions cannot be taken away from them, or censored, revoked or restricted by any central authority, even by the companies running the platform.

For example, they point out that if a user runs afoul of Second Life’s Terms of Service, they can have their account suspended and lose all their virtual possessions. In contrast, the adherents of blockchain-based virtual worlds claim that they can evade such restrictions by simply selling their items on the open market (one such example is the popular OpenSea collectibles marketplace).

Limited-edition wearables (i.e., avatar clothing) which are bought and sold on the blockchain are already proving quite popular both in Cryptovoxels and Decentraland, but the two platforms are taking distinctly different approaches in their implementation. While Cryptovoxels is using the open market approach already proven as successful in places like Second Life, Decentraland seems to be opting for a more restrictive licensing approach, which at first glance seems rather at odds with its “open, decentralized” advertising.

Forcing creators to sign licenses to be allowed to make and sell content, and having investors vote on who will and will not be allowed to create content, stifles the creativity of an free and open marketplace, and seems to go against the “decentralized” nature of Decentraland.

According to an announcement made Monday on the official Decentraland blog:

The creation of wearables for Decentraland is a complicated process requiring a lot of support. To ensure user-generated wearables look great and function properly in Decentraland we will need to make the tools to support this process.

It will take time to develop the workflow and build the equivalent of an SDK and Builder tool for wearables so during this process we will work with small teams of developers from the community that we are confident can deliver quality products and the feedback and communication we need.

Once the workflow is in place and the quality at the high level you’d expect, we’ll implement Stage 2 of the initiative.

This involves opening up the application to create wearables to the entire community. It will take the form of licenses being granted to teams and individuals by the community, through the DAO.

The DAO (short for Decentralized Autonomous Organization) is a relatively new mechanism to allow Decentraland’s investors to vote “on the policies created to determine how the world behaves: for example, what kinds of wearable items are allowed (or disallowed) after the launch of the DAO, moderation of content, LAND policy and auctions, among others.” (More information on the DAO can be found here.)

I have seen a lot of virtual worlds come and go in my time, and one thing that I can tell you is this: imposing any kind of licensing on the creative process can lead to a creative bottleneck, and potentially drive away content creators.

One reason that Second Life continues to be the most commercially successful and popular virtual world, is that Linden Lab had, very early on, decided to create a free and open market, where creators could set up stores and sell their content to whoever was willing to buy it, retaining the rights to their creations and earning income.

Linden Lab has never licensed stores or creators in Second Life, and never will. The workload associated with such an enterprise, in a market with many millions of items for sale, would be impossible to scale upwards as the economy grew. Yes, Linden Lab will step in if a DMCA copyright complaint is received from a competitor, and they will also shut down stores which sell illegally-copied content when it is pointed out to them, but otherwise, they very wisely stand aside and let the market decide what people want.

And while stores open and fold with astounding regularity in Second Life, the fact that they have approximately 900,000 regular monthly users means that they must be doing something right (even if it was all a happy accident which to date still has not been replicated by any other platform). Those virtual worlds that look on with envy at SL’s success, and wish to snatch that mantle of success for themselves, need to pay attention to what works, and what doesn’t.

It would appear that, going forward, Decentraland will be focusing on a licensing process for all avatar wearables, letting its investors vote, instead of letting anybody who wants to, simply create and sell avatar clothing and accessories for the DCL marketplace. While some see this as a necessary effort to impose and refine a high-quality workflow, others see it as a means to restrict market access, and reward those who have the deepest pockets and the best connections. (Some commentators have complained about the opaque process by which the initial five wearables creators were chosen.) Time will tell who’s right and who’s wrong here.

As I see it, Decentraland already has some daunting obstacles which stand in the way of attracting and retaining your average, non-crypto virtual world user to their platform: the many steps required to set up a crypto wallet and purchase ETH and convert it to MANA; the need to purchase even things as basic as a username; and the prohibitively expensive virtual land, its price driven up by speculators. Placing licensing restrictions on who can create items such as avatar wearables could become another such obstacle.

Decentraland should study the history of its competitors carefully, to glean a few pertinent lessons on how to run and grow a virtual world. There’s no need to reinvent the wheel here, folks.

Photo by Jon Cartagena on Unsplash