State of the VR Nation

I have been thinking about writing this post for some time now. I am not thrilled to be writing it, but in some ways I feel like an historian  -- so here goes.

Statistics show that closed grids (all closed grids including Mother SL) are in decline and OpenSim is gaining in popularity. A shift seems to be happening but along with that an overall decline in VR interest.

While I do believe in statistics, I also know that they can be manipulated to "say" just about anything one wants. So for me, a personal barometer is best.

Here is what I have seen this last month.

SL mainland continues its move into wasteland status. There are very few non-maintenance lands adjoining any of the mainland parcels I use. Large commercial multi-sim areas that used to be fully occupied are now two thirds to three quarters yellow (for sale) with no buyers in sight.

High profile designers that used to have full sims have opted for 1/8th or smaller plots for their new stores.  Some of this is due to the popularity of venue shopping; folks typically by at events or on the Marketplace these days. There are some exceptions who market their virtual brick and mortor stores well, but in general the inworld shopping experience is not the same as it was five years ago.

I have noticed -- this month in particular -- a lot of designers joining new venues that were previously not part of their marketing plan. I am wondering why the mass interest.

On a personal level, my sales are down a bit but fairly good considering the current state of affairs. I sell niche products however, many things that aren't available from others. So my retail gauge isn't really a fair one. BUT, it is very obvious that my design blog views are way down from the beginning of last summer -- over 33% I would say and that is a lot. The feeds that post their statistics have dismal numbers, some of the top bloggers have gone to one post a week; readership I am guessing is down overall.

Does this all both me?  You betcha. This is not what I want to see. I have been in a handful of worlds on the steep decline slope -- some of which are no longer. They were good platforms, but they couldn't get and keep enough growth momentum.

I am not sure there is an answer, a magic pill that will solve the problems.


Over on Opensim there is a fairly noteworthy schism burgeoning.  The "commerce" grids want more protection for their creators. The "free meta" sims want to protect old, free, pass along content. Having both sides happy is going to be tricky. Many are worried that an even wider rift will appear between the money and no-money camps.

After talking to quite a few folks that know much more than I, it seems unlikely the plans will come to fruition. There are just too many things that need to happen and some are in direct contrast to the needs and rights of others.  So while folks are flocking to the $5 and $10 a month sims that are almost like SL, paradise is not without its issues.


Now there are lots of new platforms on the horizon. So far none has beckoned loudly enough to get my attention. I am sure they will each find their own followers, but replacing SL is going to be a tough act to follow.

As I write those words I find that I am not terribly convinced that replacement will happen. Even with a glorious new platform (it seems pretty obvious by now that we aren't talking "world" but indeed something more akin to a VR ISP) I am not really convinced that SL will die. To many people with too much invested -- both years and money -- will be hard to smother under the blanket of the new flavor of the month.

The next year may be one of the most important in VR history as new platforms open and population shifts occur, but looking at the number of mesh bodies and heads being sold in SL, I don't think too many folks are planning on jumping ship.