Congratulations to Drax on his achievement, and congratulations also to his co-hosts over the past two years, first Strawberry Singh and now Solas NaGealai. Mijeka Munro has been the regular photographer for these weekly adventures, creating an Atlas Hopping Photo Gallery, and here I share with you some pictures he has taken over the first 100 episodes!
Recently, I have become fascinated by a particular kind of celebrity: the YouTube influencer. Yesterday, I watched a video by the successful YouTuber and real estate agent Graham Stephan, who is currently pulling in US$100,000 per month from his YouTube channel alone:
These are people who have been able to attract significant numbers of subscribers to their YouTube video content, and earn hundreds of thousands—even millions—of dollars a year with advertising and endorsement deals. For example, the 28-year-old Swedish YouTuber Felix Kjellberg (a.k.a PewDiePie) earned US$15.5 million last year, according to Forbes.
But obviously, PewDiePie and his fellow livestreamers on Twitch and YouTube were a powerful, free promotional tool for VRChat. (The Ugandan Knuckles meme helped a lot, too, by becoming a self-perpetuating cycle that helped popularize VRChat.) While the platform peaked at 28,500 simultaneous users, it has since settled down to around 6,000 concurrent users in recent months, which still makes it the most popular social VR platform so far.
Monstercat: Call of the Wild Experience is a VR space where the music label will host artist meet and greets, giveaways, and more. Altberg didn’t give me exact numbers but over a thousand people watched the show in VR via Sansar.
“Tens of thousands of people watched the concert across Twitch, Mixer, and Huya, and over a thousand people around the world attended the event in Sansar – across 6 continents, 65 countries, and 675 cities. Fans feel more connected and immersed in the music they love, while artists, in turn, effectively reach more people and places in a single day than they’d reach on a real-life tour. “
Now, while I am slightly suspicious at that “675 cities” figure (I always knew you could determine country by IP address, but I wasn’t aware you could pinpoint IP addresses down to the city level), the fact remains that 1,000 users in one day is seen as a major success for Sansar. But compare this with the estimated 600,000 regular users for Second Life. And compare this with the estimated 7,500 users of the adult virtual world 3DX Chat, which, as one commenter noted (here and here):
… 3DXChat. It started as just a sex sim. Then they added building. Then users started building and visiting each others places, instead of paying for sex like they were supposed to.
It’s more successful than High Fidelity, Sansar, and Sinespace put together. About 7,500 paying users.
So, although 1,000 users in one day for one event in Sansar is a significant achievement, it still doesn’t take the platform to the next level, where Linden Lab can really start making money off it.
Which leads to my question: will Linden Lab and other social VR companies eventually have to pay YouTubers and other influencers to promote their platforms to a wider audience and attract more attention? The experience of VRChat was an instructive lesson on the advertising power of influencers like PewDiePie.
Linden Lab and other social VR companies may decide that slower, organic growth is best. However, the pressure to attract a lot of users more quickly using high-profile influencers must be sorely tempting. Will Linden Lab, High Fidelity, Sinespace, and other social VR platforms eventually bite the bullet and sign deals with popular influencers? Only time will tell.
UPDATE Aug. 16th: I have been told that it is, indeed, possible to identify cities by IP address, which I did not know before!
I’m a little late in reporting this, but Linden Lab is present at the Official Star Trek 2019 Convention in Las Vegas from now through to August 4th in Las Vegas. Lacie Linden posted a cute picture to her Twitter:
In addition to having a booth at the convention, Linden Lab is also bringing in various people associated with the Star Trek franchise into Sansar to meet with fans in VR! Check the Sansar Events page for more details on events today and tomorrow:
Come hang out one-on-one with: – Suzie Plakson (Star Trek: The Next Generation, Voyager, Enterprise) – John Billingsley (Dr. Phlox from Star Trek: Enterprise) – Jeff Combs (Star Trek: Deep Space Nine, Voyager, Enterprise and more) – Casey Biggs (Damar on Star Trek: Deep Space Nine) – Tim Russ (Commander Tuvok on Star Trek: Voyager, and a prolific writer, producer, and Trekkie)
All coming to you LIVE from Star Trek Las Vegas – only in the Sansar Roddenberry Experiences! Ask questions, meet other fans, and dive even deeper into Star Trek history. Be a part of the live STLV action without even leaving your desk.
You might be surprised to hear that, amid all the doom and gloom over at High Fidelity, people are still pressing ahead with events. Just recently, DrFran hosted a pub trivia quiz in HiFi which I attended (I’m the one in the wizard’s hat):
DrFran also hosts a conversational salon every Sunday where people gather to discuss a pre-set topic. The one I attended recently was on sex and gambling in virtual worlds, and it was a fabulous discussion. It’s due to hard-working people like DrFran that there is still a strong sense of community in High Fidelity.
However, there is no hiding the fact that High Fidelity has made a sharp pivot away from consumers towards the business market. Many HiFi users are looking at other social VR platforms such as Sansar. Well-known High Fidelity user Xaos Princess (whom I have profiled before on my blog) has recorded a video of her recent visit to Sansar, where she talks with Draxtor Despres and Theanine at 114 Harvest and then visits four of Theanine’s experiences: Synthwave, A House on the Hill, Stereopixel Arcade, and an in-progress, not-yet-public experience containing his photogrammetric scans of Chinese sculptures and virtual recreations of buildings and bridges he saw while he was living in China.
The video concludes with a point-by-point evaluation of Sansar, done on a interactive whiteboard in High Fidelity:
Unfortunately, I can’t embed Xaos’ livestream (which was done using Periscope), but you can view it at this link. Please note that Xaos’ audio is very low and you will probably need to use headphones or earphones to hear what she is saying, although it does get better later on in the video. Also, the livestream video is three hours long! Despite this, I’d still encourage all users interested in social VR platforms to set aside the time to watch this; it’s always illuminating to get an “outsider’s” perspective on a platform you already know.
UPDATE Aug. 5th: Xaos Princess has now put a version of her Periscope video up on YouTube:
Note that this is actually episode two of a series titled Xaos Tours the Metaverse. Episode one, of course, was about High Fidelity, and it is available on YouTube:
By the way, Xaos also did a point-by-point evaluation of High Fidelity at the end of her tour, and she does not pull any punches:
It’s interesting to compare the two whiteboards. Xaos (who is obviously an expert at High Fidelity!) feels that HiFi is lacking in three areas: learning curve, gamification, and user concurrency (?!). I’m kind of surprised at the latter, but according to Xaos’ video, she gave it a red frowning face because of High Fidelity’s sudden shift in direction leading to doubt and insecurity among its users, which is understandable. Perhaps “user concurrency” would better be termed “level of usage”.
I look forward to future episodes of Xaos Tours the Metaverse!