While I am quite certain that I do not have anywhere near the same amount of traffic as popular, long-established fellow bloggers such as Wagner James Au of New World Notes or Strawberry Singh, my WordPress stats are telling me that I am now consistently getting between 1,100 and 1,300 views per day, which is a significant increase in just the past week. Thank you for your support!
Apparently, a lot of people who are trying to find ways to cope with social isolation policies, lockdowns, and quarantines during the coronavirus pandemic are busy setting up new accounts on Second Life, or dusting off old ones to pay a return visit! Almost all of that new traffic to my blog is Second Life-related, especially my continuing coverage of Second Life Steals, Deals, and Freebies. And there have certainly been a lot of high-quality freebies that have been given out by various stores during the pandemic, to encourage people to stay home and play Second Life instead of going out! (If you’re looking for one handy summary of my best advice for finding freebies in Second Life, here it is.)
I am endlessly amused that my all-time most popular blogpost of all time is one that is the top Google search result when you search on “vrchat adult” (which, apparently, quite a lot of people do):
I even joined the Second Life Blogger Network, and every so often, Strawberry Linden (formerly SL superblogger Strawberry Singh) kindly spotlights one of my blogposts on the official Second Life Community News feed, thus bringing me even more traffic. (Thank you, Strawberry!)
And (once again), two of my Top Ten posts are about adult content in social VR platforms and virtual worlds: VRChat (#1) and Oasis (#6, which was a sharply critical review of the struggling platform, which I do expect to fold at some point). It would appear that sex sells…or at least, it attracts readers who are searching Google for adult virtual worlds, which is a niche that, as I wrote in another popular blogpost (this link is also safe for work):
I want to make it clear that I am notgoing to get into the habit of covering adult/sex-based virtual worlds. There are literally dozens of them out there, and frankly, I find them boring as hell.
However, the coronavirus pandemic has proven to be a game-changer, an unprecedented global health crisis that has had completely unanticipated impacts on all kinds of businesses (for good or ill), disrupted all kinds of practices and behaviours, and upended all kinds of conventional wisdom. So, perhaps, adult social VR platforms and virtual worlds will see an increase in usage if people can’t swipe right on Tinder? Who knows what will happen. It will be fascinating to watch.
But no, I still don’t plan to cover adult/sex-based platforms in the same way I write about other niche and more general-purpose social VR platforms and virtual worlds. Despite my very rare past forays into that market on this blog, I will be leaving that field to somebody else to cover. Not my circus, not my monkeys.
I’ve been doing some thinking lately. Now hear me out on this.
Ebbe Altberg, CEO of Linden Lab, has gone on record that there will never be adult content in Sansar. Not because he’s opposed to it (after all, Second Life makes a not insignificant portion of its profit from the dozens of adult-rated sims on the grid, catering to just about every sexual kink imaginable). In fact, Second Life is so successful at this aspect of the business that it makes it almost impossible for any other adult virtual world to get a financial foothold (link is safe for work).
Ebbe is opposed to adult content from the point of view that he wants Sansar to be a success, a roaring success like Second Life was in its time, and that often means partnerships with other companies. Companies who are understandably very squeamish about associating their brand names with sex and adult content. The United States of America, for all the glorification of violence portrayed in its cultural exports like videogames and movies, is still remarkably puritanical (and frankly, somewhat hypocritical) when it comes to sex.
None of what I call the “Big Five” social VR platforms (or even the top 12, for that matter) allow adult content. Note that here I am talking specifically about general-purpose/multipurpose platforms, not the purely sex-oriented ones like 3DX Chat (all links in this paragraph are safe for work).
But what would happen if one of them decides to break from the pack and allow sexual content? Assuming, of course, that there would be some kind of permissions system in place to lock it down and restrict access to only those adults who want to see and participate in it (like what Second Life already has, but perhaps even more restrictive).
That social VR platform would probably get a huge boost in business, along with a burst of media attention (not all of it positive). And it might just get enough attention to actually become a major player, becoming in effect the next Second Life, with user concurrency figures to match.
It’s a risky gamble, and if it is not handled correctly, it will tarnish the name of whatever social VR platform makes the attempt (much the same as Second Life now has a certain disreputable reputation in some quarters, even though it is certainly possible to use and enjoy SL without ever stepping foot in an adult sim).
But for some company, sick and tired of being the underdog virtual world after pouring untold time and money into building a platform, only to have it ignored, it might be a truly tempting prospect. And it would probably up-end the marketplace.
Then again, perhaps somebody will just go and create a purely adult-oriented social VR platform. We’ve already seen a first attempt to support VR with the adult virtual world Oasis (link is safe for work), but when I tried it, it didn’t work very well at all. Furthermore, it looks like the company is having trouble attracting users (they recently switched from their initial US$20-per-month subscription plan to US$20 for a “lifetime membership”, which indicates a certain level of desperation setting in). After writing my profile on the platform (see link above), I uninstalled Oasis from my computer and I have no plans to return.
The adult virtual world 3DX Chat also says they support the Oculus Rift VR headset on their website, and I did try it out once, but it’s also pretty buggy. After writing my profile (link is safe for work), I uninstalled the client software, and I have absolutely zero inclination to want to revisit 3DX Chat. As I have said before on this blog:
…I want to make it clear that I am notgoing to get into the habit of covering adult/sex-based virtual worlds. There are literally dozens of them out there, and frankly, I find them boring as hell.
Will I cover sex/adult-oriented social VR platforms in future on this blog? If it doesn’t cost me anything to test it out, once, then I might do it again. I mean, I’m a 55-year-old out-of-the-closet gay man; it’s not like I need a note from my Mommy to see nekkid people 😉
So, what do you think? Which social VR company do you think will take the plunge into adult content? Or do you think a new, adults-only company will capture the market instead? Please feel free to leave a comment on this blogpost, or join the RyanSchultz.com Discord server, where nearly 200 members are ready and willing to discuss and debate these and many other issues around social VR and virtual worlds!
UPDATE Feb. 19th: SURPRISE! As it turns out, one of the top social VR platforms already allows adult content, and I wasn’t even aware of it!
These Terms of Service for High Fidelity Domains are applicable only when you access or use High Fidelity Domains (content hosted by High Fidelity). HIGH FIDELITY IS NOT RESPONSIBLE OR LIABLE FOR ANY ASPECT OF THE HIGH FIDELITY PLATFORM THAT IS NOT HOSTED, DISTRIBUTED, PROVIDED OR MAINTAINED BY HIGH FIDELITY.
So it would appear that you can have adult content on your own domain, as long as you don’t bring any adult content into HiFi’s own hosted domains. Furthermore, you can set an adults-only (age 18+) rating in the description section of the domain when you are setting it up:
There are users who have adult content in their domains, but these are usually made private (unlisted) so that unaware users do not wander in… which is probably why most people haven’t seen them 🙂
I am pretty sure that most people are not aware that you can already have adult content in High Fidelity. I know that I’ve never heard of it before this! And High Fidelity probably doesn’t want to advertise that fact too loudly or too broadly, lest they get overrun with people setting up adult domains. Or maybe they do actually want that market! How interesting…
[High Fidelity] is an open source system where you run the servers. You can do whatever you want on your server. You are responsible for any local laws you might break, etc. We are just like an Apache web server.
Because we provide search services for placenames or domains on the web and in places like the go-to button on the tablet, we will use self-described ratings and other data we can collect to provide filters for those searches. Obviously you can opt out of using or being included in those search services. So these ratings will be used there.
Menithal suggests reading through the full discussion thread I linked to above, not just the part where Philip weighs in, in order to get the full context of the discussion.
Have you joined the RyanSchultz.com Discord yet? Come join 170 avid users of various metaverse platforms, and discuss social VR and virtual world predictions for 2019! More details here.
Time to peer into that crystal ball and make some predictions!
First: Second Life is going to continue to coast along, baffling the mainstream news media and the general public with its vitality and longevity. It will continue to be a reliable cash cow for Linden Lab as they put a portion of that profit into building Sansar. And I also predict that the ability to change your first and last names in SL will prove very popular—and also very lucrative for Linden Lab! Remember, they’ve got seven years of pent-up demand for this feature. (I have a couple of avatars myself that I’d like to rename.)
Third: I confidently predict that one or more blockchain-based virtual worlds are going to fold. Not Decentraland; there’s too much money tied up in that one to fail. But several cryptocurrency-based virtual worlds are starting to look like trainwrecks of epic proportions (and I’m looking at you, Staramaba Spaces/Materia.One). Somebody still needs to explain to me why people will want to pay to hang out with 3D-scanned replicas of Paris Hilton and Hulk Hogan. The business model makes absolutely no sense to me. Another one that I think is going to struggle in 2019 is Mark Space.
Fifth: High Fidelity and Sansar will continue their friendly rivalry as both social VR platforms hold splashy events in the new year. (I’m really sorry I missed the recent preview of Queen Nefertari’s tomb in HiFi, but it looks as though there will be many other such opportunities in 2019.) And High Fidelity will continue to boast of new records in avatar capacity at well-attended events (it certainly helps that they’ve got those venture-capital dollars to spend, to offer monetary enticements for users to pile on for stress testing).
Sixth: the Oculus Quest VR headset will ignite the long-awaited boom in virtual reality that the analysts have been predicting for years. There; I’ve said it! And those social VR platforms which support Oculus Quest users will benefit.
And Facebook? If they thought 2018 was a bad year, I predict that we’re going to see even more scandals uncovered in 2019 by news organizations such as the New York Times. And more people (like me) will decide that they’ve had enough of being sold to other corporations and data-mined to within an inch of their lives, and jump ship. The public relations people at Facebook are going to face a lot of sleepless nights…
And, still on the same topic, we might yet see the launch of a new social VR platform backed by Facebook, after they decide to ditch the lamentable Facebook Spaces once and for all. Maybe it will be based on Oculus Rooms; maybe it will be something completely different. But despite my negative feelings about the social networking side of Facebook, they still have the hardware (Oculus), the money, and the reach to be a game-changer in social VR. (Just not with Facebook Spaces. At this point, they should just kill the project and start over. Any improvements will be like putting lipstick on a pig.)
Finally, I predict that the RyanSchultz.com blog will head off into new and rather unexpected directions (that is, if the past 12 months’ activity is any indication!). I never expected to cover blockchain-based virtual worlds, or Second Life freebies; they just kind of happened. Expect more of the same in 2019, as various new topics catch my interest.
Please note that while you will be able to log in using the same credentials as RLC2, your RLC2 account is not linked to Oasis. RLC2 and Oasis are two different ‘service providers’ on the same network. Your login information is the same throughout the network, but your inventory, virtual currency balances*, settings and personalization are unique to each service provider and cannot be transferred between them.
RLC2 refers to the second version of Red Light Center, I guess? I really have no idea what’s going on. I never expected to ever have to use my RLC credentials again, I swear! I only created them for research! Research, I tell you!
Anyways, back to Oasis, and, by the way, whose bright idea was that particular name, I wonder? I wonder what the folks over at VIVEPORT think about that one, since they also have a VR experience called the Oasis…which makes it very difficult to actually find this newer Oasis platform using search engines like Google.
Here’s a one-minute promotional video from Vimeo:
So, “a better virtual reality is waiting for you”, eh? I decided to take them up on the offer.
Your avatar setup is pretty straightforward (but just what is the difference between “heavy” and “portly”, and “slim” and “skinny”, anyway?):
Once you have made some rough avatar adjustments, you arrive at the Welcome Tower, a dark urban rooftop with a large pool:
Your (cringe-inducing) orientation consists of finding and talking to Angela, who dispatches you to visit other bots in order to learn how to adjust and clothe your avatar:
Angela refers you to the “stylist”, Charlotte, a woman with a faux French accent whose own personal style could best be described as “Cheap French HOO-Kair” 😉
After fixing up my avatar and fetching myself a drink from Logan the bartender, here is what I looked like:
“Everlust”, indeed! (No, my avatar doesn’t look any better in good lighting. I checked.)
You can switch from desktop mode to VR mode by hitting the F12 function key on your keyboard. (You’re also supposed to be able to switch back by hitting F11, which never worked for me.)
In VR mode, I found I could teleport around, but not turn. And no matter what I did in VR mode, I could not get doors to open for me (i.e. teleport me to another experience). Let’s just say that VR support is super buggy and leave it at that.
Back to the whole Pornhub thing, where we started off in the first place with that NY Post article. Apparently, Oasis has decided that a partnership with the porn website Pornhub is just what is needed to promote the platform, according to this article from the website VR Room:
The Pornhub Games consist of six episodes leading up to the Pornhub Awards on Thursday, Sept. 6, and are viewable on a new virtual platform called Oasis.
“Tonight, is a special sneak preview of a project that I produced and directed called the Pornhub Games,” HoloFilm President Anna Lee told XBIZ. “The Games are a six-week, reality style competition where six contestants compete for the chance to be crowned the Pornhub Games Champion.”
According to Lee, each Thursday from now until Sept. 6, it will air a different episode and host a viewing party featuring a live Q&A session engaging fans and contestants.
The soft launch is intended to stress-test the platform prior to its official launch on Aug. 2, alongside an affiliate program for promoting the new platform.
“[We] would love to have some of you VR enthusiasts come check it out, help us load test and give us feedback on the platform,” Lee explains. “So, while the Games are some fun eye candy, the real purpose of tonight is to help us get Oasis totally on its feet.”
The doors open at 5 p.m. (PDT), with the event beginning at 5:30 p.m.
Oasis is available for any desktop computer, as well as Vive and Rift headsets, with mobile compatibility planned for a future release.
So, if you’re really interested in Oasis, here’s their website, have at it! Oh, and did I mention that one of their two in-game currencies is called “Booty”? (The other one is called “Rays”. The jokes just write themselves, people.)
You’ll be able to transfer (send and receive) virtual currency
Get discounts on experiences paid in Booty (like tattoos, change rooms, lap dances, etc.)
Unlock intimate activities
Display a badge above your name indicating your VIP status
Your name colour will change to indicate your VIP status
Your chat text will also update to a new colour to indicate your VIP status
But, lemme tell ya, VIP membership ain’t cheap:
So, what do I think of all this? I think that any virtual world that wants to get into the sex market needs to have really good-looking, realistic avatars, and these… aren’t. The clothing I tried on, in particular, was very poorly made (I guess the point is, you’re not supposed to be wearing any?). And the addition of somewhat juvenile hunt games (e.g. help the madam find her champagne receipt she left at the café) seems completely out of place in a virtual world designed and intended for adults.
Oh, and the Pornhub tie-in? Basically, you’re sitting in a movie theatre, watching the individual weekly episodes of the “Pornhub Games” on a screen. It’s boring as hell, and why you would need or want to be in Oasis just to watch a video is beyond me. Why impose an extra layer of unnecessary technology to do something that can easily be done on the desktop?
The bottom line is, there’s really nothing that interesting in Oasis, even if you are a porn fan. Pass.
You can try Oasis for free to get a taste and if you decide you want more, a single payment of $20 will unlock all game features – forever! This offer won’t be around forever, though, so why don’t you give it a try now?
Oasis must really be hurting to switch from $20 per month to $20 for a lifetime membership. It’s a limited time offer, of course! There’s just a hint of desperation here.
Frankly, if you’re actually looking for a virtual world to fulfill your sexual fantasies, you’d be better off sticking with Second Life, the established front-runner with over 15 years experience. As I have said before, when writing about yet another adult virtual world, 3DX Chat (which frankly has much better-looking avatars than Oasis):
The biggest problem is that many of these newer adult/sex-based virtual worlds simply cannot compete with everything that the entrenched frontrunner Second Life, with a 15-year head start, has to offer:
SL now has extremely attractive, realistic-looking mesh avatars (male, female, and any mythical creature you could ever dream up), with a near-endless array of avatar customization options (hair, clothing, shoes, accessories, etc.). You can outfit your avatar to fit into any style or scene! No other virtual world can compete.
In-world stores and the SL Marketplace sell tens of thousands of different animations (dance, cuddle, sex, etc.); again, there’s something to suit every taste. Again, no other virtual world can compete with the endless selection.
Finally, Second Life offers hundreds of adult locations, many staffed with dozens of avatars who are ready, willing, and able to roleplay sexual scenes (via chat, voice, even webcam!). Again, no other sex-based virtual world comes even close.
Frankly, Oasis is a TERRIBLE name for a virtual world. It’s just too common a name for too many other things on the Internet. The company should strongly consider renaming it to make it easier for people to find. Then again, they’re not the first virtual world with a poorly-chosen name (remember There.com?).