Saturday, October 10, 2009
Texas, we hardly knew ye
Sadly, after just three weeks in operation, the new Texas sim where my newest MNC location recently opened, is ceasing operations.
This isn't the first time I've opened a location in a promising new sim, only to see it fold not long after its unveiling. I still miss Londinium, a Dark Victorian sim which had all the makings of a fantastic RP world.
It's never good to speculate on what misfortunes are behind the closing of sims -- too often, however, it's that people aren't fully prepared for the tremendous financial investment that a sim requires, as well as the tremendous amount of marketing that must follow in order to make the sim pay for itself.
$1000 USD down and $300 USD a month in tier has always seemed like a steep price for the privilege of "owning" a 65,536 sqm piece of a virtual world. Yet I have daydreamed many a time of having my own private estate, where I can set up a residence, or build an immense flagship storefront. But the economics of such an investment have never been within my reach, and looking at the numbers, it's unlikely that will ever change.
I understand the resources that go into maintaining the vast network of server farms Linden Labs hosts. They are a private company and have the right to charge whatever they please for their product -- and considering at the moment they are the only game in town, so to speak, in this type of virtual world, more power to them.
Inevitably the economic conditions in First Life were bound to trickle into Second Life. People are losing their jobs, having their homes foreclosed on, watching helplessly as their credit is frozen or their bank arbitrarily jacks up their credit card interest rate.
In that scheme of things, Second Life is a disposable asset. And yet Second Life is something that many people right now need more than ever -- a place to temporarily escape from an oppressive set of First Life circumstances.
I've been creating specialty clothing and furnishings long enough to know that no matter how thorough my marketing is, there's just never going to be a larger demand for my product line. Let's face it: for as wonderful as the Victorian/Steampunk/Gothic communities are in SL, they are a small, specialized minority in the larger scope of the SL population.
I think I'm okay with that. I make enough now to cover my rents in world, to pay a miniscule portion of my rent in the real world, and to put some of my earnings back into the SL economy and support the work of other builders and designers. Perhaps if I had arrived in SL earlier, during the upswing of the content creation economy, things might be different.
But that's neither here nor there. The important thing is that I enjoy creating the clothing and furnishings I sell. It's a great stress reliever, it's a self esteem booster. It's something I should spend more time on.
So what would happen if I did devote more time to designing? That would mean less time devoted to, well... facilitating other people's need for drama. Hmm... now there's a thought.
So the door to Texas may be closing, but perhaps a window is opening elsewhere. Perhaps too it's my time to close some doors in SL, and open a window two for some fresh air.