Well, here I am.. it's not the first blog I have written.. I think the last was one associated with There.com which as it happens is it itself something to "blog about" today.
There.com was established in 2003. http://www.there.com/info/index.php
It was a virtual world with its own in world economy which had a real value. (That means you could buy and sell it for real money) and its registered users could create content for others users to buy. This could range from clothing to vehicles etc.
I discovered "There" in 2003 after spending 18 months in The Sims Online, created by EA Games. It was the first time I discovered you could actually make money from "playing games" and dabbled in the virtual real estate, buying and selling houses. I later moved onto Pawn Brokering, buying peoples unwanted virtual goods and selling them in the built in auction for profit. I even built my first little website called There Pawn Brokers, google it.. I bet it still exists! ( Going to check.. ) Yep lol here it is!
Back then I didn't have Photoshop much less the know how to use it. Times have changed indeed.
There.com was officially closed in March 2010
And to this very day, I miss it. I didn't log very much after I discovered Second life but ironically I had been logging in a fair bit quite recently.
There has a real sense of community something that Second Life in my opinion never managed to achieve in the same "whole world" way.
Anyway, I could ramble on about good times and happy memories but more important is how the economy is having an impact on virtual goods sales whether that be in a virtual world or from a website.
I have many work associates that have reported major profit losses, some of them being prolific companies.
Linden Labs, the creators of Second Life release announcements about a healthy economy yet people around me are worrying over major sales and traffic dips including me.
Its complicated enough trying to work out the economy in the real world but when a large percentage of your income comes from within a virtual world which has its own issues and changes, its impossible to make any projections about the future.
What does surprise me is how there has been no new virtual worlds opened in over 6 years now.
Sure we have the mini Second Life spin offs that came about when Linden Labs released the client open source but I don't count them. I mean big companies with a budget and investors.. Second Life is still the only platform of its kind and many people have sworn as soon as something else comes along which offers the same opportunities they will pack up their virtual bags and start afresh.
The fact is, many of the reasons people are pissed off with Linden Labs is "because" they have a monopoly in this niche market.
I recall the days when British Telecom were the only telephone provider and they took no prisoners when it came to late payments. They could charge what they wanted ( and did ) and would disconnect you in the blink of an eye if you were to fall behind in your bill payments.
These days they tend to be a lot more "customer friendly" and why? Well because they know they have competition. They piss a customer off and chances are that customer will go to another company never to return.
After being with Second Life and Linden Labs by default for over 6 years paying monthly and annual fees, my account recently got into debt of a grand total of $9.60 for 10 days. I had lost my credit card and had it stopped by the bank and forgot to update my payment info on my account.
I got an email from Linden Labs saying:
"Don't worry! You have 30 days before we delete your account and belongings"
(erm, that would be my entire source of income by the way!)
But after 10 days and no notice at all, I tried to log in to be informed my account had been made in active.
I updated my payment details, made the payment of $9.60 and I was allowed access again.. but they clearly wasn't taking any chances!
I would be very interesting to see what changes would occur if Second Life suddenly had some healthy competition.