Tuesday, January 13, 2009

Keeping the balance

Location: Virtual Hillbilly Camp, Fearzom

Sometimes a simple thing like a pickle makes the difference. Starting to consider myself a senior citizen of the grid I have seen my share of laughs and also of pure rage. Its funny how how much SL is such a simple mirror of society even though (and nobody can deny that) everything is faster, bigger and less stable.

I think the biggest challenge LL continues to face is that they have to keep the balance. The balance I am referring to is the balance between the creative potential of SL and the consuming crowd. Unfortunately this task hasn´t been handled well and the swing from one side to the other has been very sudden and fierce.

The problem is that these two groups (the creative and the consuming) are the most essential ones. They guarantee that SL works the way it does. But why are these two groups are so important? Let me try to give a short explanation.

The creatives are the sim owners, content designers and organisators of the grid. They care for the creation of new things (like places worth visiting, new clothes to buy or events to visit) and us e the tools and potentials of SL to create an awesome user experience. This content is asked by the consuming crowd who do not come here to create own content but enjoy the content of others. Their consuming and appreciation of the content stimulates the creatives to create more content which can be consumed.

There comes the pickle again. Its a simple item in the camp but it already has proven to be a hell of fun for a lot of people who rode it.

Keeping these two key groups in balance is the most important task for LL like I pointed out earlier since they won´t keep consumers when the creative potential shrinks and won´t keep the creatives when they do not attract enough consumers and provide a plattform that suits the creatives needs. But who is the one that has more weight in this relation? I would think none and this is the dilemma since LL seems having a hard time keeping this balance stable.

Svarga is just one example, Slum City is another and when you take a look into the old and big brands of the grid you will notice that the release cycles of their goods is increasing.

The reasons for that are wide spread. While one designer might complain about inventory loss, the other one might argue that the instability of the system is the worst thing while another one might see windlight as the enemy since they had to upgrade their creations since it is mandatory.
On the other side the consumers are more then once dumped into nothing since from one release to the next their machines are not SL ready anymore and therefore cannot log in from one day to the next or are hit with a bat when the sim they purchased is increasing in its monthly fee by 60% when all they did is using the capabilities which LL provided without thinking of possible consequences.

Lets face the facts here for a minute. Both key groups have a growing discontent with SL but most of them grudgingly stay since there is no alternative to SL ... yet. Once a mature contender will appear on the scene SL might experience a mass exodus of user account simply drying out the grid and killing itself effectively in a short time. This exodus might even come earlier if LL continues using drastic measures like they did with the open space sims in late 2008 more then once, since this might trigger creatives to think that the invested work is not worth it and close down their ventures altogether. Svarga is a huge warning sign which shouldn´t be ignored at all. The big loss of at least 300 open space sims is another sign which is alarming.

LL main task for 2009 is finding the balance and they have to find it quickly and satisfyingly for the majority of the SL users. If they do not achieve that they will most likely face an uncertain future once they are not the only one the market anymore.

Sometimes finding the balance is more difficult then riding a giant pickle.

1 comment:

Iggy O said...

Tenchi, I like this a lot.

I don't know if you read NWN about the "Paralysis of Choices," but it was about how prices have gone down for items as more and more are available.

I think that's tragic for producers of quality items, but the Lindens have never really provided a proper in-world search engine (this is why SLex and Onrez do well as markets).

That pickle, at 10L, is an example of a quality item that would have cost 100L a while back. In fact everything in the shop was cheap!

One issue before a "mature" alternative to SL catches on: it must permit user-generated content to get the "creatives" on board. Imagine, if you would, what SL would be like had LL picked certain firms to make content.

That's the approach at Home and Blue Mars (when and if it debuts). Almost ALL users then become consumers.

That sort of world would be of no interest to me at all.