So, it would appear that those social VR platforms that do have in-world economies can’t attract large numbers of users, and the ones that don’t have in-world economies might be popular, but obviously can’t keep running indefinitely without a means of generating profit.
Game Designer, User Generated Content, with the responsibility to “utilize a broad range of game design techniques to make complex and intimidating User Content Creation tools approachable & easy to use for everyday gamers”;
Games Developer, Marketplace, where the successful applicant will “build the tools that allow creators to sell wares via the in-game economy”; and
So it would appear that Rec Room, like VRChat, is also planning to implement an in-game economy, including a marketplace where user-generated content will be sold. Note also the mention of staff who will be working on easy-to-use, collaborative building tools for user content generation.
Of course, having an in-world economy would be an important step on the road to Rec Room becoming a profit-generating company. It will be interesting to watch as the company attempts to grow its userbase!
I am only a couple of blogposts away from my next milestone on this blog: 1,500 blogposts. And it’s probably as good a time as any to calculate some quick statistics on what topics have proven to be the most popular in the two and a half years I have been blogging about (as I state in my blog’s tagline) “news and views on social VR, virtual worlds and the metaverse”.
My coverage of the various social VR platforms and virtual worlds has been quite uneven, with most of my blogging focused on three metaverse platforms to date:
Sansar (the reason I started this blog in the first place)
Second Life (with a focus on freebies)
Of my Top 100 most viewed blogposts since I started this blog on July 31, 2017, you might be interested to learn:
36 were about Second Life
10 were about virtual reality in general
9 were about Sansar
7 were about VRChat
5 were about High Fidelity
4 were about Decentraland
What I find interesting is that there is absolutely no correlation between how often I cover a social VR/virtual world on my blog, and how popular those blogposts are. For example, I write about VRChat much less often than I do about Sansar, yet the VRChat posts are more popular overall. I have written less frequently about Decentraland than High Fidelity over the years, yet more people tend to visit my blogposts about Decentraland.
All this has led me to do some thinking about making changes to what I write about on this blog. In particular, I want to put more effort into covering those platforms which:
show consistently higher levels of usage according to publicly published statistics such as Steam, or
show higher levels of reader interest based on my own WordPress statistics, or
What this means is, going forward, I will be starting to pull back on my formerly heavy coverage of both High Fidelity and Sansar. Both the concurrent usage statistics from places like Steam, and my WordPress stats, tell me that people don’t seem to be as interested in those platforms, so why am I continually writing about them? I do not kid myself that I am going to be able to convince people into visiting platforms like Sansar and High Fidelity via my blog, and frankly, it’s not my job to do their promotion for them. I should be writing more about the state of the metaverse as it currently exists, and spend less time trying to encourage people onto less popular platforms. Therefore, I think it’s time to reign in my coverage of Sansar and High Fidelity.
(As a side note, one of the first changes I see in Sansar, since last week’s announcement of a new focus on live events, is that the number of Product Meetups has been cut in half, to biweekly from weekly. Of course, if you don’t expect to have as many new features coming out in future client updates, it makes perfect sense to have fewer Product Meetups, where those features tend to be discussed. Daily Community Meetups have also been cut to Mondays and Wednesdays.)
Also, I will start paying more attention to those platforms which meet at least one of the three criteria I have mentioned earlier:
Second Life (which is clearly still the most popular part of my blog)
My coverage of Second Life will now expand a little bit from the initial focus on Second Life Steals, Deals, and Freebies, in that I will be commenting more on a variety of topics relating to SL, particularly more announcements of changes to the platform by Linden Lab, and more editorials.
I will also start to write more often about other platforms which I have visited too infrequently, in an effort to even out my coverage of social VR/virtual worlds and provide a better overall picture of the evolving metaverse to my readers:
And, whether or not I am invited to participate in the closed beta early next year, I will of course be writing extensively about Facebook Horizon!
I realize that this decision might be a disappointment to both Linden Lab and High Fidelity (or, perhaps, a relief, given how I have criticized both Sansar and HiFi in the past). But I think it’s time to adjust my blog to the current market realities, much the same as the companies themselves have seen fit to make significant changes this year.
On Saturday I was a guest of Bernhard Drax (a.k.a. Draxtor Despres in Second Life and Sansar) on his long-running weekly podcast, The Drax Files Radio Hour.
We talk about Douglas Rushkoff’s provocative article, Most VR is Total Bullshit. But Drax and I also discussed many other topics in social VR, including mentions of Sansar, High Fidelity, AltspaceVR, VRChat, Rec Room, Decentraland, and the forthcoming Facebook Horizon. We also talk a fair bit about Facebook in general—and Drax takes me to task for rejoining the Facebook social network!
There’s been a very interesting discussion taking place today on the RyanSchultz Discord server. One of the regular contributors to the many conversations that take place there, Michael Zhang, pulled together the following information from Crunchbase:
Today I Learned: Building social VR, MMOs, and virtual worlds are a lot more expensive than I imagined!
-High Fidelity raised $72.9 million over five rounds and is struggling with their recent pivot to enterprise. -Rec Room raised $29 million over two rounds, $24 million only recently, so they lived off of $5 million for several years. -Altspace raised $15.7 million over three rounds, went bankrupt and shut down, then revived when bought by Microsoft. -Bigscreen raised $14 million over two rounds. -TheWaveVR raised $12.5 million over three rounds. -vTime raised $7.6 million over one round. -VRChat raised $5.2 million over two rounds. -JanusVR raised $1.6 million over two rounds. -Somnium Space raised $1 million over two rounds.
-Epic Games raised $1.6 billion over two rounds, $1.25 billion coming after Fortnite. -Mojang’s Minecraft launched in 2003, started making profits in 2007, earned $237.7 million in revenue by 2012, and sold to Microsoft for $2.5 billion. (Wikipedia) -Roblox raised $187.5 million over seven rounds. -Linden Lab’s Second Life raised $19 million over two rounds.
Then, another contributor named Jin put together this graph to illustrate how successful the various social VR platforms have been in raising venture capital (please click on this picture to see it in full size on Flickr, or just click here). As you can see, High Fidelity is far and away the leader in raising money!
(In comparison, Decentraland raised 24 million dollars in their initial coin offering. Jin also made a second chart including Decentraland, but I have not included it here because, unlike the other platforms, it does not currently support VR, and it is unlikely to do so anytime in the near future.)
Thank you to Michael Zhang and to Jin for their work!