Gosh, this is the longest I've gone without posting to this blog - and on this occasion, you don't even get any pictures. Instead you get a long rambling prose piece - so good luck getting through it. Here we go....
Thanks to my chum Xantherus Halberd for letting me know via Twitter of this interesting blog post, concerning those inscrutable souls at Rezzable. Who? Oh come on... where have you been for the last year? Rezzable is a UK-based virtual world design and build company, who have brought us - or perhaps "have curated" would be more accurate - some of the most interesting sims on the Second Life grid. Their best-known sim remains Greenies, with its brilliant concept of a truly immense room infested by aliens. In fact, the company owns a large number of imaginative sims, many of which I have featured in this blog.
Anyway, it seems that they have grown tired of providing us ramblers, tourists and other freeloaders with free access to another of their great sims: Black Swan. Henceforth, visitors will need to stump up nearly 200L$ (about 40p or 80 cents) to acquire a HUD that will grant them entry. Anyone refusing to buy and wear the HUD will be ejected forthwith.
So why are they doing this? Their blog offers the following explanation:
"We are still exploring the right revenue model for virtual world content. We have merchandise that contributes some revenues. However,we have seen the interest in corporate sponsors (like L'Oreal Paris) evaporate. We think the best way to go forward is to charge for an object that can then be used many times for admissions. We realize that this may limit the number of visitors to the sim, but hope that high-quality areas are considered worth paying a little to see, explore and hang-out with friends."(Thinks: But doesn't Kzero usually reference L'Oreal Paris as a success?)
When Rezzable first appeared there was a lot of conjecture about their business plan. There were making a significant investment in virtual real estate - and undertaking a lot of high quality (read: expensive) construction. Yet they didn't seem to be promoting or selling anything. My thought at the time - and I still think it valid now - is that they were looking to make A Big Splash and establish themselves, almost overnight, as a viable alternative to the established Big Boys of Second Life like, say, Electric Sheep and Millions of Us. But the L'Oreal Paris campaign aside (and that was never intended as a long term commitment, or so I understood), they have not exactly grabbed the corporate world by the lapels, spun it upside-down, and shaken the change from its collective pockets.
I am curious to know why not. At one time, say around 6 to 9 months ago, it looked like they might be getting into some commercial building work. But latterly Rezzable has resembled more of a "vanity project" than anything else. A harsh view perhaps, given that there are people whose livelihoods depend on it. But it seems Rezzable has not capitalised on that first eruption into Second Life, and has instead continued to spawn many interesting and arty sims that do nothing apart from (hopefully) putting the word "Rezzable" in people's minds.
So what about this new "money-maker"? If the sole reason for doing this was to try and get some money back to cover the outlay then I'd be inclined to question the sanity of the decision. But then, I'm a rambler and general freeloader, so I am bound to think that. There are so many amazing sims in SL that I'd sooner not pay for Rezzable ones, thanks, when I can enter the others Free Of Charge. I can get the gist of their exclusive, deluxe sims from Flickr and other bloggers, so I am struggling to see why I might then want to part with hard currency just to walk around them. This is not like RL, where I might spend half a day or more, wandering around a museum, gallery or historic site. In SL I am looking to be there for perhaps 15 minutes... and probably less.
But I don't think this is the sole reason why the HUD has been rolled out. I wonder if it is also a way of introducing a new pay-to-use solution that other SL entrepreneurs can buy off the virtual shelf. It's not a marketplace I've looked at, so I don't know if there is already a welter of such tools out there. But while the Rezzable HUD is currently set to be pay-to-use, based on a one-off payment, it would not take much further development to convert it to a one-off pay-per-use device instead. And there are many opportunities for such pay-per-use services.
Forgive my grubby mind, but for example a concept like this could work admirably for the... ahem... "Adult" market - a sizeable market in Second Life, let's face it. You can figure out how that might work, I'm sure. Similarly, you could use it as the basis for any ticketed event in Second Life - where the HUD = the ticket. Then you might have something...
But no doubt I've got it all wrong, and it's something totally different again. Let's see, eh?