Monday, March 26, 2012

Hell Hath No Fury, Like a Fashionista Scorned

Location: Duck, Cover, Rant

Especially when, in her blogger profile picture, she sports a tiara. My loose-cannon mouth has gotten me in trouble, again! Yay, me.

At Hamlet Au's post about the impending closure of a sim based on Firefly, I ranted without any evidence that if RP goes out of Second Life, Linden Lab will have to close the doors:
  • For all the fashionista angst over mesh doo-dads and the right eyeshadow, I'd wager that there's not enough XXX and play-Barbie customer base out there to keep the Lab open. 
I'll quote and, I hope, answer CronoCloud Creegan's return rant, with me as straw man taking a beating for all the "cranky oldbies" of SL who like to build stuff, increasingly prefer Open Sim, and once had, like many male educators in SL, epic bad taste in fashion and hair (our picture today is a fashion disaster that happened to me in the OpenLife Grid some years back).

Tophat v. Tiara, Round One:

It is partly true that I'm a cranky oldbie, because I'm actually a "midbie" who came into SL in early 2007, smack-dab during the Hype Era. Still, CronoCloud misrepresents me badly in some regards. I don't actually think women are 10% of the Internet or SL; in VWER, they represent more than 50% of the attendees and, yes, they are RL women too because they have First-Life info in their profiles and care about hair, clothes, and shoes.

But this post is not about me, or even women in SL, darn it! It's about how Linden Lab pays its bills. And at the end, I'll offer to place a bet with CronoCloud.

The Numbers, PLEASE!

I faced this claim at CronoCloud's blog:
  • Oh Iggy, the hardcore RP community in SL is miniscule. the clubgoing howlzers outnumber them 10 to 1 at least, even in the old days hardcore RP was a niche.
10-to-1 is a big margin. And not all "clubgoing howlzers" are fashionistas. That said, evidence please?

Let's begin with a journey to the bare-chested macho men and naked slave girls (does good skin make one a fashionista?) of Gor. The numbers may have changed, but over a year ago I encountered a statistic that 300 Gor-RP sims exist in SL.

As of yesterday, Tyche Shepherd's Grid Survey for Oct. 2010 (latest available data) shows this:
  • 17153 Moderate-Rated Private Estates and 2853 Adult-Rated Ones
  • 56.5% of Private Estate regions are Full Regions, 42.9% are Homesteads, 0.6% are Openspaces
  • 43.2% of Mainland owned directly by Linden Accounts (Contiguous Mainland is 6723 regions including Linden Home regions)
But back to Tarl Beefcake and his clingy Kajirae: Goreans must all use private estates and not mainland because of the adult-focused content of Gorean RP.  I suspect that many other RP regions are on the mainland, and they won't ring in at $295/month. I have not visited Zindra but I suspect that the Adult-rated continent does not include Gor sims.

Using my 300 as a baseline and Tyche's percentages, that means that 169 Gorean Sims are full regions (169 @ $295/month means $49,855 / month income to the Lab). The other 131 Gorean Homestead regions bring in, at $195/ month,  $25,545. Total for Linden Lab: $75400 per month.

I don't like Gorean philosophy or RP, but that's a tidy sum.  And how does income from Marketplace fees stack up against the sort of income that even 17K moderate regions generate?

Tiara v. Tophat, Round Two?

I'm going to assume that not too many fashion-related regions are Adult-rated and that all of the Gorean ones are. CronoCloud, show me those 3000 fashion sims!  It's possible, perhaps, that 17.4% of SL regions rated Moderate are for "clubgoing howlzers" who go shopping.

But I'd like more evidence.

Let's continue:
  • But, Iggy, The Barbie girls...they outnumber you and the people like you by a HUGE margin. Haven't you SEEN the HUGE number of SL fashion blogs?  
I have. I don't read too many, beyond Iris' posts at NWN and, on occasion, Slipsters and Juicy Bomb. I love shopping for suits and shoes. But I doubt that I spend more than 2000L annually on clothes or accessories for Iggy.  My skin is ancient! In 2007 (ah! where's my fake walker and wheelchair!) fashionistas pointed me to hair and skin stores to get rid of my early "Frankenstein Monster" starter look.

I suspect CronoCloud is correct about the "Barbie girls" outnumbering the rest of the SLers. But not about the role of land-income that goes to Linden Lab. Hamlet Au ran some data recently about Minecraft's success, and in that post he cited these numbers from about a year back: using Tyche's numbers at the time, he estimated that for Linden Lab's cited profit of 75 million dollars consists of 72 million from land, 3 million for everything else.

The Bottom Line: Tier is the Thing

So, I want some economic stats to show that fashion-focused SL residents exist in numbers that correspond to an income-stream capable of keeping SL viable, long term. That was my original point in replying to Hamlet's post. Even though I poked fun at virtual fasionistas, my claim was really about the economy.
  • Do you not realize that avatar appearance enhancements, drive the SL economy? In other words, the Fashionistas basically run SL behind the scenes. They have for quite a while now. They're the ones spending the money. Skin Fair? Hair Fair? Sin Fair? Fashion for Life? Vintage Fair? Fantasy Fair?
I love Hair Fair, and though I've not been in a few years, I really enjoyed the Locks for Love promotion done a few years back. I need lower-ARC dreadlocks, however. This will be part of my bet, if I am proven right.

But you are not correct when you say "drive." Even if fashion is the be-all and end-all of SL, it is tier that drives the SL economy. Otherwise, the Lindens would have cut it long ago to swell the number of residents owning regions.

Fashion might be the indirect driver of tier (places to shop, socialize, or just strut), but I need evidence. Fashion creators may or may not be renting server space, depending on how deeply Marketplace has affected their in-world traffic.

Without tier from sims and parcels, SL won't survive.
  • There's tons of old fashionista centric regions STILL going strong. Because unlike college students popping into SL for a class project. . .fashionfolk spend money. A LOT of money. 
I agree here. But enough to keep the doors open at LL? Evidence please?

As for college students? They are already young and fashionable, in my experience. They spend a lot of money, too, in the physical economy. They don't need avatars to be glamorous because they are avatars with profile info groomed fanatically at Facebook. But this is a digression in my counter-rant.

What I still need to be convinced of CronoCloud's arguments would be numbers.  How much money goes to LL, directly from Marketplace fees or tier from land rented by fashionistas or their suppliers? How does that compare with the RP community? Builders?

Can we even find out? Or do we keep swapping competing and sweeping generalizations?

The Wager: Dreads or 1000L on the Line!

This is fun. Let's see if we can get some answers, CronoCloud! What does it cost to keep the lights on?

Here are more numbers, in the form of a friendly wager. 1000L if you can get some hard numbers, so you can go on a shopping spree. If I am correct, you buy me some new dreadlocks at a hair store of your choice.


Cecil Hirvi said...

I like your new, unleashed attitude in this latest blog update.

The writing seems more real, funnier and authentic.

Keep up the good work and cross your fingers.


Iggy O said...

Cecil, SL's Fashionistas could rip the flesh from our bones. It's a risk to run...

I must let my Id out to play sometimes. But I enjoy the academic stuff too. You'll like my new series btw...when I get ranting about good machines made bad by corporate dumbness (or in the case of the Saturn rockets, gov't bumbling) there won't be a dull moments.

CronoCloud said...

Good post Iggy.

First off, there's no "h" in CronoCloud. The game is Chrono Trigger but the character is Crono without the "h". It trips up people. Oh how I hate my unfashionable nick, but I'm stuck with it. I'm also a cranky oldbie myself, 2006 vintage.

You know, I'm not sure we can ever know the details of the SL economy...but I do think that the SL economy (including Tier) is a trickle-up economy. Meaning as I see it, it goes something like this:

1. Fashionista see shoes.
2. Fashionista desire shoes.
3. Fashionista click Buy L$ button.
4. Fashionista acquire shoes with L$.
5. Designer Acquire L$ from Fashionista
6. Designer pay for their expenses (hair/clothes/skin) and pay tier to LL with L$ income from shoes.
7. Designer want more L$ from Fashionista so make more shoes.
8. Fashionista see NEW shoes.

I do however, think that marketplace WILL affect in-world land rental. And so far have been seeing anecdotal accounts of such for smaller boutiques I know one designer personally that doesn't do an in-world store, but used to. Stores with larger sales, will probably keep some in-world presence.

While Tier does pay LL's bills now...if regions go away, that reduces LL's costs But here's another thing, IIRC you're one of those who say that LL should drop tier prices, but if you're hypothesis is correct, dropping tier price would hurt their bottom line, since their income is tier based.

But....I actually expected LL to drop tier prices by around 25 to 30 percent, last November and was surprised they didn't. I have my suspicions that LL is keeping Tier high to keep the region glut from becoming worse.

The numbers? Well, I have no real numbers but we can look at the most popular regions in SL to know where the "masses" are at....Bukkake Bliss Island!
And for my sake, I believe that Fashionista is an inclusionary term, and would include most of the female clubgoers since they shop...a lot. It also depends on how we define RP. As an old pencil and paper RPG geek, if it don't have rules and dice, it doesn't feel like RP to me....though most SL RP is more akin to the RL LARP stuff.

To me, Gor...isn't exactly RP, it's more akin to sci-fi/fantasy tinged D/s sex play. I wouldn't put it in the same category as say, Firefly RP. (Shiny!), in which there wouldn't be as much sex, unless you were RPing a Companion like Inara (Shiny Dresses! I can't find any knockoffs of Inara's dresses in SL)

Yes, there are plenty of Gorean sims...but weirdly I'm seeing fewer Goreans in-world. My suspicion is that Goreans are hiding it more than in the old days because I think people became less tolerant of Kajira kneeling while shopping out beyond Sl-Gor. and other such Gor behaviour outside of Gor.

I really don't know how much LL is raking in via marketplace, but considering how much it's taken off among's quite a bit and still growing.

I would also agree that most fashion regions are not Adult, they want to keep the people who aren't verified coming. It's very rare to find an adult rated one.

I also average about 3000L$ a month on Avatar appearance....which is low for a Fashionista. Yes, I know, that's insane, comes with the territory.

I agree that Tier is the thing now, though I'd like to know how much if that is residential vs commercial.

I wish I had numbers, I really do, but what I do have is a gut feeling that avatar enhancement is the true basic driver behind the SL economy as a bottom up sort of thing as above. (I WISH I had contacts in LL.) But tell you what, I'll pop you L$1000, to get some dreads on your own (check out Exile, nice Men's hair) just because I like this post, and you made some excellent points.

The Lone Quaker said...

Quoting Hamlet Au as a resource...

As an academic, you should know better. There is no integrity in his data, nor any actual journalism in his reporting. Why not just quote the bible in science class?

I for one do not applaud your new style - you sound even more like a bully than you usually do.

Iggy O said...

@Crono, I will fix your name right away. I just switched display name to "Iggy" because I, too, have a name that ends up as "Ignatious, Ignawtius," and sometimes, "Ignoramus."

So it looks like my wager is moot. I'll still send along 1000L because you are a good sport! Send me tips for a place for low-ARC dreadlocks. My are so huge they have their own gravitational field.

@Lone Quaker, usually I just link to one of Hamlet's stories, but in this instance he ran the numbers from Tyche's data, just as I did.

Unless he got his math wrong, the figures should be valid.