Why Have the Newer Virtual Worlds Attracted So Few Bloggers?

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Second Life has attracted hundreds of bloggers who cover the virtual world platform in great detail. There are so many, in fact, that they even started their own professional network, the Blogger & Vlogger Network.

One of the things that surprises me is how few bloggers are covering the newer virtual world/social VR platforms, including the “Big Four”, as I call them:

I’m not talking about the official blogs which the companies maintain; I’m talking about individuals who blog about virtual worlds because they’re interested in one or more platforms.

I am, still, one of the very few bloggers who is covering Sansar, Sinespace, High Fidelity, and VRChat on a regular basis. A small number of Second Life blogs, such as Wagner James Au’s New World Notes and Strawberry Singh’s popular blog, have broadened their coverage to include these newer platforms as well. Inara Pey and Nalates Urriah have also covered Sansar in their blogs. But other than that, I can’t think of many other bloggers out there who cover the newer virtual worlds. Why is that?

One of the reasons may be that the newer virtual world/social VR platforms need time to build up a customer base, which includes bloggers. I don’t think that there were very many bloggers covering Second Life when it first launched in 2003, either. (Wagner James Au’s New World Notes blog actually predates SL; his first entry is dated May 22nd, 2001, and his first entry about Second Life is dated April 22nd, 2003.) It has taken fifteen years for the Second Life blogosphere to grow to its current extent, and it will likely take many years for a similar number of blogs to spring up around the newer virtual worlds.

A large percentage of Second Life blogs are fashion blogs (one person has estimated the number at 87%). People tend to spend a great deal of their time and money on avatar customization in Second Life, and many bloggers follow that, reporting on new items and fashion events.

But the fashion market in Sansar is still small, only dating back to Dec. 18th, 2017, and as a result, there are few bloggers reporting on it. (Among the first is Ivonna’s vrBLOG.) The avatar fashion market in Sinespace is likewise very small. And High Fidelity and VRChat cannot really be said to have a fashion market at all, because you create and rig a whole avatar from scratch, including what it is wearing, instead of dressing up a human avatar like you can in Sansar and Sinespace. So that’s probably another reason why there are not very many bloggers yet. As avatar customization options in the newer virtual worlds expand, more bloggers will begin to cover the fashion aspect.

Another idea: perhaps people are choosing to use other means of covering their favourite virtual worlds. For example, there are few (if any) blogs about VRChat, but there are dozens of YouTube channels about VRChat. There’s a lot of Twitch streaming as well. Could it be that attention has shifted from blogs to livestreaming and other ways of communicating?

So, what do you think it will take to get more bloggers to cover the newer virtual worlds? Please let me know in the comments, thanks!

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An UploadVR Journalist Covers Sinespace

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David Jagneaux of the UploadVR website has written a very complimentary article about Sinespace and how it might become “the Second Life of VR”:

We recently got the chance to talk with Adam Frisby, co-founder and Chief Product Officer for Sinespace, about their VR app and the name that it’s made for itself. The UK-based company quietly launched in 2017 and has since gone on to be immediately generate revenue for not only the company itself, but for users as well. He’s describing Sinespace as a “virtual world platform built for developers” and it shows.

They’re currently sitting at approximately 10,000 monthly active users across all Unity-enabled devices (that means PC, Mac, Linux, browsers, and viewing capabilities on mobile) with about 10% of those users being in VR, primarily Rift and Vive. Sinespace is mostly a third-person experience, but if you’re in VR, the view shifts to first-person.

That isn’t a lot of VR users right now, but it still puts them just below VRChat and Rec Room in terms of sheer reach and size. Considering they’ve barely made a peep in North America and aren’t even on Steam yet, that’s pretty impressive.

That figure of “10,000 monthly active users” sounds suspiciously high (maybe that’s the figure for the total number of Sinespace accounts created so far?).

David writes how Sinespace, like Second Life before it, is focusing on how creators can earn money from their work:

All of the content you see inside of Sinespace is more than likely created by a user. On top of that, all of that content that developers spend hours making isn’t locked to just Sinespace. It can be used in engines like Unreal and Unity as well — they don’t force people to sign any exclusivity agreements or rights waivers to the content. They’ve just got a straight-forward 70/30 split on all revenue with 70% going to creators and only 30% going to Sinespace, the company also makes money by selling in-game currency (Gold) to users. But the real meat of it all is the internal user-to-user economy.

Currently there are over 2,500 virtual goods for sale that range from clothing and animations for characters all the way up to vehicles and entire buildings. This is how Second Life started cultivating its economy and Sinespace is following a similar path. According to company representatives, the top creators are already earning hundreds of dollars per month in sales and that’s expected to continue growing as the user base expands.

2,500 is still smaller than the over 12,000 items already listed for sale in the Sansar Store, but it’s still impressive for a newer virtual world platform. (High Fidelity has nowhere near that number of items for sale in its High Fidelity Marketplace, as far as I can tell.)

It’s a good article and I would encourage you to go over to the UploadVR website and read it. The article also talks about the avatar facial driver software I had blogged about earlier, which I still think is a really cool feature!

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UPDATE 12:20 p.m.: Adam Frisby has gotten right back to me about the accuracy of the 10,000 monthly active users figure, saying:

Hey the user count is actually accurate — it’s the 30 days to June 15th… It’s been growing all year.

…[A] lot of that is just first time visitors (we get a lot of them); but the core user group is growing as well.

Sinespace Pick of the Day: The 381 Club

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The 381 Club is just what you need after an exhausting week at work: a place to let loose on the dancefloor to some awesome Eighties music!

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Tonight, our DJ Kathryn Yer is spinning tunes and giving away in-game silver currency to a few lucky avatars! If you’re up for some fun, come into Sinespace and join us!

And where else could you dance like this, even using your leg as an air guitar?!??

An Hour with Jaron Lanier in Sinespace

I got to the Delphi Talks event early, so I could grab a good seat near the front. I opted to stay in desktop mode rather use my VR headset, and use Sinespace’s built-in snapshot tool to take pictures, like the one below:

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Check out Sinespace employee Sun Tzu’s centaur warrior avatar (above image, right). The detail on his outfit is AMAZING. Sinespace has really improved their avatar appearance in the last few updates to the client software!

Jaron showed up a little late, due to real life traffic. His avatar is the octopus with the dreadlocks in the pictures below:

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Among many other topics, Jaron talked about the artwork from the medieval era as a sort of precursor to today’s virtual reality. He was also rather disturbed by Facebook’s purchase of Oculus. He still hasn’t seen the movie Ready Player One, and he talked about bringing VR to Hollywood and giving demos back in the 1980s, when it was super expensive to recreate what we now have as relatively commonplace, consumer-level VR.

Here is a link to the livestream of the event.

Jaron Lanier Speaks at the Delphi Talks in Sinespace Today

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This is just a reminder that virtual reality pioneer Jaron Lanier will be speaking at the Delphi Talks in Sinespace this afternoon, Friday, May 25th, at 2:00 p.m. Pacific Time. You do need to RSVP to attend this session, at the link provided above. This is a rescheduling of the original event, which had to be cancelled due to technical problems. They had a really good turnout on that first attempt to hold the event, so I would urge people to get there early to get a good seat!

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Jaron Lanier will be interviewed by Wagner James Au of the long-running blog New World Notes. Jaron will discuss his book, which charts three decades of VR, and tells the story of the enormity of what we are witnessing as the medium impacts our lives. The talk will also touch on Jaron’s work as an interdisciplinary scientist at Microsoft, and his thoughts on the latest generation of VR technology and social platforms.

Exploring Sinespace in VR: Finally!

Well, I’m happy to report that I was finally able to visit Sinespace in my Oculus Rift VR headset! The latest version of the client software seems to work much better for me.

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Now, all is far from perfect. I’m no longer sitting in the floor, but I still seem to looking out from within my avatar’s chest rather than his head, and shorter than the other avatars around me. Every time I tried to turn right, I turned left instead! And the screen of the pop-up user interface is a little too close to my eyes for my liking. When I pulled up the Explore screen, it twitched enough to make me feel sick.

But it’s a start. I can now officially add Sinespace to my list of virtual worlds that support VR!

Sinespace Pick of the Day: The Welcome Centre

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Sinespace is one of those virtual worlds which has a Welcome Centre, which is where all new avatars spawn when they first set up an account. It’s always staffed with one or two greeters, called Sinespace Guides, who welcome users, answer questions and help troubleshoot problems. I had thought that they were part-time paid employees, but when I asked, they told me they were volunteers: “No, we help because we like to help people.” I think that this sort of program is a wonderful idea, one that most newer virtual world platforms should strongly consider doing, particularly in this competitive marketplace.

Sinespace’s Welcome Centre is an attractively designed tropical space, with a large pavilion, lots of palm trees, pools with water lilies and goldfish, and many wonderfully animated toucans flying around, landing here and there. Off to one side is a large sign posting upcoming Sinespace events, next to three tables where you can play the Greedy Greedy dice game (famous from Second Life):

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(The translucent blue icons over the chairs indicate that you can sit down on them.)

The Sinespace Welcome Centre actually makes you want to come back, explore, and chat with the guides and other visitors. It’s a great example of a central meeting area!

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