Linden Lab, Second Life: How to make real money in a virtual project
In August, I was able to go on excursions to a number of Californian companies along with RMA . The organizers have already told about the internal kitchen of several large Internet companies in their blog, and I would also like to make a contribution. In my opinion, Second Life is a good example of how “independent developers” can help the development of a service, and at the same time make money on it themselves. It is worthwhile, however, to take into account that I retell the version of the company's representatives, and the reality may differ. Opinions of those who personally came across this "game", I will be glad to hear in the comments.
So, Second Life is not a bunch of teenagers or people without real life seeking asylum in virtual reality. The bulk of the “population” of SL is people aged from 30 to 40 years old, mostly interested in the economic component of the game (since there is no game component as such) and trying to try themselves as entrepreneurs. The number of virtual entrepreneurs in SL is higher than in ordinary life, but the percentage of successful enterprises is about the same as in reality. Some numbers : - A million users log in to the system on a monthly basis, a total of 22 million registered accounts - 40 million hours a month, users spend a total of online - 50% of them are women - 40% of users from the United States, the rest mainly from Western Europe - 250,000 virtual goods sold daily, this is the largest gaming economy in the world - the turnover of the game in 2009 increased by 60% and amounted to 567 million (about 50 million dollars a month) - The “adult” part of the game was taken out a year and a half ago to a separate sector (similar to the red light district), and now it takes no more than 12% of the total time spent online by users. - The most successful entrepreneur in the game is a teacher from Germany, who took up buying and reselling gaming land on time and now earns about a million dollars a year. A few months ago I even got on the cover of Business Week - In the second quarter of 2010, turnover amounted to 156 million dollars, and sales of goods - in the amount of 29 million dollars; users extracted $ 13.8 million from the system - the money was sent to their accounts minus 3.5% for conversion from game currency to real - Average transaction price - 1 USD; game currency - Linden Dollar - The game features almost 5 billion virtual items (goods), almost all of which are created by users. The most promising is to start your business in SL to a programmer with skills in creating animation.
Most users spend money on domestic games (40%), improving their appearance (30%), furniture (10%), as well as on the ground, various services and pets (20%). Of the games, the most popular are now virtual pets (an analogue of Tamagotchi), the vampire game “Bite a Friend” and the analogue of a “one-armed gangster” Gambling and banking services in SL are prohibited because of the peculiarities of US law, therefore only those games are allowed where success depends not only on luck, but also on certain skills. Among the successful services, the first place, of course, in the "escort service" in various varieties. ')
Initially, the game’s economy is built on the fact that game owners sell land and a certain minimum set of goods and services to everyone. Then the world is filled with the users themselves: they create clothes, furniture, buildings — and receive money from other users, as well as companies. These enterprises compete with each other, conducting various actions and dumping, all as in real life.
In addition, offline companies come to Second Life to create virtual offices there. Formally, the owners do not take money for this, but such a company needs its own “virtual office”, which means that it has to rent or buy game land, an office, and real money is spent on it. In addition, these companies, by promoting their products and creating products within the game, help creators diversify content. Here, in turn, again there is a niche for independent developers: their experience and skills in creating and distributing virtual products is extremely necessary for “advertisers”.
The largest representative of the real business in SL - IBM. He owns several local islands, the company uses virtual three-dimensional space and for a virtual tour of products and technologies, and for training. And Evian had an interesting example of an advertising campaign: the company installed its “automata” in a virtual city, in which it was possible to get a new, beautifully flickering skin (in terms of improving the appearance of the “avatar” in the game, skin and complexion are especially valued). As if alluding to the fact that "if you drink our water in real life, your skin will glow with health."
In addition to large commercial companies, non-profit and government organizations are also represented in SL. For example, the Canadian Border Guard used 3D simulations in SL to train their employees so that they could pass an internal test (and the performance improved by 60%), and the US military could improve communication between their five separate units.
This is how the work of the Canadian simulation looks like:
In general, Linden Lab is proud that SL acts as a very inexpensive 3D modeling method and some companies use machinema films as presentations. For example, investors need to illustrate a future project that exists only on paper. You can collect pictures in a ppt-presentation, and you can quickly and inexpensively shoot a 3D video - it looks more solid (although the graphics, IMHO, is still not so hot).
An example of the presentation of the Hospital of the Future from Palomar West:
Also, company representatives like to hold corporate meetings in SL. A virtual meeting is better than Skype communication, in their opinion, for two reasons: firstly, it allows you to combine a large number of participants; secondly, the presence effect, in their words, is more pronounced. Andrea, who spoke to us, has three different avatars in the game. For meetings, she most often chooses a small hippo. He says it is very convenient to tell people some unpleasant news from his face. It is simply impossible to take offense at him!
By the way, she also said that they conducted a study, according to the results of which people, whose avatar in SL was more slender than they were in real life, - with time began to lose weight. But the eye color of their avatars, users usually give the same that they have in real life. In particular, a small hippopotamus has brown eyes.
There are no “Chinese farmers” in the game, and there is practically no inflation either, since, unlike most other games, money is almost impossible to get out of nowhere (except, perhaps, some starting ones). In SL, you can get money, like karma on Habré, only if some other person wants to give it to you. For something specific. Therefore, people, just like in real life, rent premises, open stores, hire other people to work. From the game itself, you can chat on Twitter and Facebook, so even in virtual reality, the lazy shop seller can ignore the customer and chat with friends.
Initially, the creators of the game wanted to establish only very basic rules, so that the participants themselves actually created the game, and managed by the crowd. Unfortunately, users did not always behave well in relation to each other (“who would have thought ?!”), and the creators had to introduce additional rules. For example, children under 18 are forbidden to play SL; a separate Teen Second Life has been created for them. If administrators find that a minor is playing on an adult account, they will delete it.
Now the game creators have conceived several global changes, including simplifying the use of the game, increasing productivity, and solving problems with firewalls of certain user groups. They are also puzzled with what to do with the fact that the amount of purchased land is growing, but the population density is not keeping up with it (the population is piled up in large cities). Now, the amount of virtual land in terms of square kilometers occupies almost the territory of Rhode Island, which, although the smallest state in the USA, is still large enough for the virtual world.
Despite the popularity of SL in different countries, localization is considered to be time consuming and expensive, so in this game the creators of the game rely on the users themselves. Fortunately, there are enough enthusiasts. Not so long ago, representatives of the company say, users organized the convention, they paid for everything themselves - 800 people participated. They discussed the prospects for SL, new ideas, in general: “if you play SL, you probably know something even better than we, developers. At least, some of our users say so: we supposedly have no idea what we are doing. ” The company itself employs only 250 people, of which about half are technical specialists, of whom two thirds are developers, and another third are testers. The office is a classic for an IT company in San Francisco: a huge open space with columns, cubes and pipes under the ceiling.
Dialogue within the Q & A session: - You know, a friend of us here at Yahoo said that you are actually dying as a project. - Hmm, curious what they told you exactly at Yahoo. Oh who would say!