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Second Life MMO Attracts Commercial Land-Buyers 31

Thanks to Terra Nova for its discussion of PC 'virtual world' Second Life's auctioning of an in-game continent, and its purchase by a possible commercial interest. The piece explains: "Second Life began auctioning its virtual land for $US in December.. [the winner was willing to] pay 2L $1200 plus $200 monthly in perpetuity, in order to make software objects that would live only in the virtual world. It turns out that [island auction winner] 'Fizik' is [related to] a marketing agency with clientele in the fashion industry. Not everyone was happy at their arrival." The piece also links to a Second Life forum thread with user opinions, from the positive ("I've never had an problem with a small-scale commercial interest getting involved"), to more guarded ("It is my hope that my in-world experience will never be ruined by corporations trying to make a buck off me.")
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Second Life MMO Attracts Commercial Land-Buyers

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  • by thefirelane ( 586885 ) on Sunday February 08, 2004 @07:46PM (#8221351)
    I believe this quote was taken out of context..

    It is my hope that my in-world experience will never be ruined by corporations trying to make a buck off me

    It should have read:

    It is my hope that my in-world experience will never be ruined by corporations trying to make a buck off me Oops, I almost forgot to pay my monthly subscription to play the game.


    P.S. I haven't played, so who knows whether you have to pay a monthly subscription, but the sarcasm still stands as I imagine they still had to pay to purchase the game.
    • by eggstasy ( 458692 ) on Sunday February 08, 2004 @09:36PM (#8222061) Journal
      You can play SL forever with a one time fee of $10, but in order to own land you have to pay a monthly fee as low as $5.
      You can still build stuff on other peoples land, or join a group and build on group land, or build on company-owned building spaces that are wiped clean every day.
      If you want to have a permanent space for your content, say set up a shop, or a house, or a club, or whatever, then getting some land is definitely the way to go.
    • There's a difference between a corporation and a user entering into a mutually benefitial relationship, i.e., a service provided at a reasonable cost and at reasonable terms, and someone "making a buck off of you," which implies a one-sided nature to the exchange. Often times, the latter comes about by a corp or industry merely controlling a resource so that others may not obtain access to it for reasonable costs. In the case of a retailer, it may be argued that they aggregate the products of many different
  • Why? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Gothic_Walrus ( 692125 ) on Sunday February 08, 2004 @07:57PM (#8221415) Journal
    Correct me if I'm wrong, but since the land is virtual, can't the developers create as much (or as little) open land as they want to? Meaning that everyone in the game could possibly own their own continent, server space allowing?

    Seems like a bit of a waste of money to me...unless the developers won't be creating more spaces for privately owned property.

    • Re:Why? (Score:4, Insightful)

      by BortQ ( 468164 ) on Sunday February 08, 2004 @08:32PM (#8221623) Homepage Journal
      The people controlling the system have full control over how much land is made available. Thus they can sell more or less depending on what they want the price to be.

      This is exactly what OPEC does with oil. Their control is less now because they don't have control over 100% or production, but they can still influence prices by selling more or less oil as they see fit.

    • Re:Why? (Score:4, Informative)

      by eggstasy ( 458692 ) on Sunday February 08, 2004 @09:32PM (#8222044) Journal
      Each 256x256 meter region takes up a whole server. Servers arent cheap, you know, neither is bandwidth, and this is a VERY small company.
      Having too much empty land would drive them bankrupt. Currently there is a massive shortage of land but a whole new rack/continent is coming on feb 10th.
      Players need to pay monthly fees proportional to their land usage so while you can theoretically own an entire continent, it would cost you $5000 a month to do so.
      • Re:Why? (Score:4, Interesting)

        by simoniker ( 40 ) * <simoniker&slashdot,org> on Sunday February 08, 2004 @10:13PM (#8222257) Homepage Journal
        Actually, I'd contest that - I don't think Linden Labs is a very small company. I know that they have been significantly and independently funded, and I can see their fact sheet [] mentions they have 25 employees, which is a reasonable size.

        I think the question of who owns entire continents or islands is more related to how many blocs of land Linden want to release to the public, rather than how much it costs for the physical servers - if the world gets too large, the players will get too far spread out, and keeping demand high keeps things exciting. But it could well be a mixture of the two, of course.
        • Re:Why? (Score:3, Insightful)

          by eggstasy ( 458692 )
          Well heck, 25 is still a pretty small company, especially when compared to a few other MMOGs that are funded by such giants as Sony and Microsoft.
          I dont know how up-to-date that fact sheet is, but they recently let some people go and revamped their business model to charge real money, instead of game money, for land ownership.
          This pretty much screamed financial trouble to me and a lot of other players, though Philip and Cory vehemently denied it and stated that they were growing faster than ever.
          You're righ
          • This pretty much screamed financial trouble to me and a lot of other players, though Philip and Cory vehemently denied it and stated that they were growing faster than ever.

            I suspect it wasn't actual financial trouble, but an inability to continue growth. Under the old system, they needed approximately 30 players per region to afford to open a region, but the actual ratio was lower than that, yet the demand for land was much higher. Consequently, they couldn't afford to open new regions fast enough to k
        • Off topic, I know.. But I see a star next to yoru name.

          Did the crew make you pay for subscription? If they did, it's as bad as the college I went to. They made prof's pay student rates for parking places.
    • Re:Why? (Score:4, Interesting)

      by BrookHarty ( 9119 ) on Monday February 09, 2004 @01:29AM (#8223113) Homepage Journal
      Correct me if I'm wrong, but since the land is virtual, can't the developers create as much (or as little) open land as they want to? Meaning that everyone in the game could possibly own their own continent, server space allowing?

      I ran across a prime piece of land in the game, and snagged it. Then with my next paycheck, I bought the land next to it, more land so I had enough prims. I bumped my plan up 15 bux a month, and have enough cash to setup a store. Already been tempted to sell the land at nice profit, since land is hard to come by. Also I'd like to move to an Adult SIM, my property is in a PG area, but the Adult land is all sold out.

      My understanding is each SIM (square piece of land, like a city limits) is a server. And they charge 200 dollars per server, and Lindens just break even. The SIM have ratings, so alot of people want Adult Sim's where you don't have to restrict yourself as much, you dont have to worry about your conversations. They even have a new War Sim where you can be killed and respawn back at your home.

      Anyone who telneted to a MOO server back in the 90's, will like secondlife. Its a mix of building and socializing. Rather amazed at the things people are building, and annoyed at some things.

      Its the most amazing VR world I've seen, currious as to what it will evolve into.

      • Errrr, right.

        - int land[1000];
        + int land[100000];

        • You obviously dont know what youre talking about. As I mentioned in another post, there is a 1:1 mapping of land to servers. The world is divided into a grid of square 256x256 regions, each one allocated to a dedicated server. You cant add land through software. It's as silly a concept as pirating RAM chips off of kazaa to get more memory.
          • Actually, you can add land through software. It would be simple enough to create a 512x512 region, but computation and bandwidth limits would keep the total amount of construction in the region the same, and the number of avatars allowed in at one time wouldn't increase. The result is a region that looks a lot sparser, and a population that's a lot more spread out.
          • Not if they've implemented it in any sensible manner at all. What you describe is the worst possible spatial organisation structure as it holds lots of empty space for sparse data-sets. Furthermore, each server could simply execute another copy of the software and you have twice as much land. What you are missing, and is quite obvious is that a virtual simulation of land is not a physical entity and that any such restriction is artificial. It is simply software and as such you can run more of it.
  • Real Estate (Score:4, Interesting)

    by fm6 ( 162816 ) on Sunday February 08, 2004 @08:11PM (#8221505) Homepage Journal
    If you live in a popular place for any length of time, you're subject to Icudavitis. This is a disease where people go around saying things like, "That house is selling for $300,000, I could have bought it for 30,000." (Oh God, I've actually said that myself.) Now, it's too late to make a killing in the meatspace real-estate market -- but where is it written that the land you sell has to have physical existence?
  • by Mighty Eris ( 729051 ) on Sunday February 08, 2004 @08:54PM (#8221789)
    At this moment, I'm looking at an ad on Slashdot. If I was to turn on my TV, I'd probably see a commercial. If I pop in a DVD, I'll catch some product placement. If I wanted to play a game, depending on what I'm playing, I'll likely see some billboards advertising real life product.

    And they're worried about corporations encroaching on their life now?
    • You can use an ad filter to block web ads. You can use a Tivo or other similar device to skip ads. You can fast forward the DVD.

      In a game, you can't take control of the situation and eliminate the problem. You are subjected to it whether you like it or not. The problem isn't just the presence of the ads, but the fact that they are inescapable.
  • another forum thread (Score:3, Interesting)

    by dr_leviathan ( 653441 ) on Sunday February 08, 2004 @08:57PM (#8221808)
    Below is the link to the first big thread on the SL forums about Fizik's purchase of an entire server:

    http://forums.secondlife.com//showthread.php?s=& th readid=8428
  • by eggstasy ( 458692 ) on Sunday February 08, 2004 @09:26PM (#8222010) Journal
    http://www.riversrunred.com/ [riversrunred.com]
  • Amazing (Score:5, Interesting)

    by 0x0d0a ( 568518 ) on Sunday February 08, 2004 @11:16PM (#8222601) Journal
    I am really amazed -- I haven't been following MMOs, but this sort of thing looks like it's getting closer to the kind of Metaverse that Stephenson described (there are some important structural differences, such as where tasks are handled).
    • There are definitely a lot of Stephenson & Gibson enthusiasts on there.

      It's the closest thing we currently have to the Metaverse, and probably the only place in existance which could rightfully claim to be a 3D graphical MUD.

      If you've got a fast computer and a good net connection, it's definitely worth a try.

      All of this commercialism stuff has mostly blown over by now. Some people are fearful that we're moving from a "small friendly village" society to something more closely resembling the Internet.
  • A few years ago (97,98) I used to hang around in a Virtual World called Active Worlds (http://www.activeworlds.com/) quite a lot. It had everything that SecondLife has back then (including bad VRML graphics). It also wasn't terribly uncommon for big companies to buy whole servers/worlds. When the Godzilla movie came out (the NEW even worse one) there was a whole world for that. I believe there was also a whole world for the movie The Thirteenth Floor. I dont see why everyone thinks it's so outrageous for th
    • *last line should read "why cant it have the same penetration in a virtual world?"* this is what I get for using a wireless keyboard...
    • SL is at least two generations beyond Active Worlds.

      SL has a very elegant and sophisticated data delivery mechanism (using Ogg for audio and progressive JPEG2000 for textures), a robust economy, greater customization, and best of all, nearly everything can be scripted in a language that roughly resembles C, with states and event handlers.
    • Why do ads fail in a virtual world?

      I may be interested in a Compaq Deskpro, but I doubt that Arkal Dorath, the 24th level mage, really wants to compare prices on one

      On TV, the ads are either integrated effectively into the plot (so someone drinks a Pepsi instead of a Safeway Cola), or divorced completely (commercial break.

      I can't see it working that way in a virtual world, and there are few virtual worlds set in eras where products they want you to buy out-of-game are relevant

"We don't care. We don't have to. We're the Phone Company."