Posted by Chic Aeon on Friday, December 26, 2014
SL or OS? Sometimes it is hard to tell. Photo used with permission.
Two ends and one middle; the metaverse seems to be dividing.
Opensim is gaining new members as well as new land mass. Some opt for the free link up of their home computer hosted worlds, others go the less techie route with full 15,000 prim sims for as low as $5 a month.
Second Life seems to be steady and even if login numbers fall and land mass dwindles a bit, with the enormous slice of the metaverse pie, I suspect it will be going strong for some time.
And then there are the folks in the middle. With the metrics figures of the second and third most populated grids in decline it is pretty easy to see that things are shifting.
Let's look at some of the factors:
- The king of the hill with around 50,000 people online on average.
- Always plenty to do and places to see.
- The option of becoming a content creator and making income.
in relation to OpenSim
- Plenty of locations but not all that many people online.
- Places to explore if you are an adventurous hypergrid traveler.
- Content creation with no charges but unlikely sales.
Now let's turn those tables.
Free or almost free full sims; many free smaller residential lots.
No costs involved in creating; free shops often available.
NO PHYSICS ISSUES with mesh (OMG, it is lovely).
Extremely expensive land.
Costs for uploading all content.
Those painful mesh physics issues.
It all depends on needs, but with two fairly clear-cut choices, what happens to the folks trying to bridge that middle ground?
Back in the Inworldz and Avination heyday (3-4 years ago) the offer of sims with three times the prims and a quarter of the cost was a draw. Content creators from SL (many of them big names) journeyed over to test the waters. There was an alternative to the high priced land and choices are good.
Some residents stayed, some went back to SL and some gave up on virtual living. For awhile the lands in the middle were fairly stable. But over the last year and especially the last few months, the logins have declined markedly.
What's going on and what does the future holds if this decline continues?
With only sketchy evidence, it seems two things are happening. Content creators are leaving Avination and Inworldz simply because sales are dismal. It doesn't make sense to go through the effort of uploading goods, packaging and marketing for minimal or non-existent sales. This has been a long term problem, but the Fall of 2014 seems to have been a tipping point. For the most part, people aren't buying; they aren't even shopping. Announcements are made that so-in-so is "coming over", yet they never actually arrive.
At the same time, other folks are moving to OpenSim where they can have a virtual life at minimal cost. It is the same draw that got the folks over to Inworldz and Avination a few years ago.
Is everyone going to move to OpenSim where free is the keyword? Nope.
Is everyone going back to Second Life where the best content creators produce all we could ever wish for? No, on that too.
The middle ground is indeed in danger, at least from my point of view and that is sad as some folks consider their gap-bridging grids home.
Two bits of improvement have made OpenSim more attractive; the hypergrid and its continuing improvement in stability and the Kitely Marketplace. With hundreds (actually thousands but some are pretty difficult to find) of viable worlds to explore and enough good quality free things to calm the worried fashionistas, it is looking pretty good. You won't often get the very best quality skins or home furnishings, but you most likely won't be paying for them either.
There is a new colony feel which bonds folks together. The Kitely Marketplace has a fair number of very nice items that can be delivered to many OpenSim grids. There is even nice rigged mesh hair. Yes, it costs twice what it would in Second Life, but you might be saving as much at $300 US a month in tier -- that is a pretty good trade off.
So my crystal ball sees the continuance of the slow exodus from the middle to the high dollar and no currency grids. It would be comforting if all worlds could flourish, but the flow of people and dollars is a constant thing. Some folks will opt for that top notch prettiness; other for almost complete freedom with FREE the key part of the word.
For me -- both work. And I like it that way.