Are Bounty Programs the Future of Virtual World Promotion?

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You can be a Bounty Hunter like Dog!

As many of you already know, I am a participant in the Virtual Universe (VU) Initial Coin Offering Partner Program. In exchange for writing regular blogposts about VU and cross-posting them to different social media, I get paid in VU tokens. (It’s currently the only way I can earn tokens before VU launches later this year.) This is a good example of a bounty program, in which volunteers get paid in in-world currency for undertaking various tasks.

I just recently learned that Decentraland also has a bounty program in place through Gitcoin, in which they pay users in MANA for such tasks as creating video tutorials, writing blogposts, and talking about the Decentraland project at game developer events.

And Linden Lab is now participating in Twitch’s new Bounty Board program in order to further promote the Sansar platform:

Bounty Board is a way for creators to browse and accept paid sponsorship opportunities (AKA bounties) directly from their Twitch dashboard. With Bounty Board, Twitch handles the relationship with the brand and finds sponsorship opportunities for you. Twitch will also handle your payments, so you can concentrate on streaming and growing your community.

We’re kicking things off with a closed beta with Partners in the U.S., where we’ll be experimenting with bounties from Twitch and select game developers. Every few weeks, we’ll be onboarding groups of randomly-selected Partners from the waitlist as well as some targeted Partners based on the specific bounties available.

And of course, High Fidelity has been paying participants in their monthly stress testing of the platform. In two months, I have already earned two $20 VISA cards I am planning to use on Amazon to buy some books for myself!

Bounty programs seem to be popping up all over! We might be seeing the start of a trend here. If you’re interested in promoting your favourite virtual world, check to see if your preferred platform has a bounty program in place. You may as well earn some in-world (or even real-world) currency while you’re at it!

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Twitch, YouTube, and VRChat

According to a recent online article by Polygon, a website that covers the gaming industry, The social VR world VRChat has attracted a lot of attention recently because of YouTubers and Twitch streamers:

Considering that VRChat is only available on Vive and Oculus Rift, the player base is still limited. The reason VRChat has skyrocketed in popularity is because of YouTubers and Twitch streamers who have brought attention to the game. One YouTuber in particular, Nagzz21, uploads near daily videos with his time in VRChat. These include weird dating scenarios, oblong takes on popular gaming avatars, drama happening between players and groups in VRChatand exploring all the different realms.

His videos have become so popular that VRChat Inc. has subscribed to him and promoted a view of his videos.

Unlike Sansar, which has focused so far on human avatars, VRChat (like High Fidelity) allows users to create non-human avatars (which requires some level of technical skill). The Polygon article notes:

Watch any VRChat video and there’s one thing that sticks out: It’s chockfull of characters that you already know. There are strange versions of Spongebob Squarepants, Pickle Rick from Rick and Morty, an assortment of Pokémon and too many anime characters to name.

This is one of VRChat’s biggest draws. Using a combination of character models, VRChat Inc.’s software development kit and Unity, players can create their own (unauthorized) avatars based on other popular figures from games, television, anime and movies.

…Multiple characters from popular culture, including Hank Hill from King of the Hill and Pikachu from Pokémon, can be seen interacting with one another. Players are able to pet Pikachu and Pokémon trainers can be seen in the distance. Much of the game’s appeal comes from players recklessly mixing and matching characters from various franchises and assuming their persona, virtually. Think cosplaying but without the expensive costume and in the comfort of your own home.

Obviously, this feature is a massive draw for some people. I’ve even had one Facebook commenter state that she will be making avatars for VRChat exactly because of that freedom to create whatever kind of avatar she wants, rather than create for Sansar. Of course, there is rampant IP theft happening in VRChat; the lawyers are going to have a field day if somebody tries to sell a Pikachu or Mickey Mouse avatar! Right now, it’s the wild west in VRChat, and everything is being given away for free.

Anyway, I thank what Sansar really needs is a few Twitch or YouTube livestreamers with a sufficiently large audience. For example, the phenomenally popular YouTube personality PewDiePie has posted a video of his VRChat adventures that has pulled in 2,828,337 views so far!

Of course, PewDiePie has over 58 million subscribers and makes millions of dollars from his YouTube channel! If I were to start YouTube livestreaming in Sansar, I would not have nearly the same pull! So the key here is not to get just anybody to start livestreaming Sansar. The key is to get a livestreamer with a large audience to start playing in Sansar.

As I have mentioned before, High Fidelity has already started a handful of livestream shows to promote their social VR world. To date, none has quite taken off like the VRChat streamers’ shows, but hey, at least they’re trying their best.

Of course, Drax and Strawberry’s Atlas Hopping remains relatively popular, and both Strawberry Singh and Draxtor Despres livestream each episode to YouTube. And just this month, Sam and Boden Linden launched another planned monthly show where they visit and comment on Sansar experiences. It’s a promising start.

So, what do you think it would take to get someone like PewDiePie to visit Sansar and livestream it? Anybody have any favours they could pull in??