Saturday, 10 July 2010

The Majestueux Palais Lovers Texture Collection

The Majestueux Palais Lovers Texture Collection

I was told today that Second Lifes oldest texture store (and my initial inspiration when I was new to SL) has packed up and gone.

 I am unsure whether the owner has left SL or just closed the store at this stage.

I won't name the owner or the store but they have been in SL longer than me. (2003)
They haven't added any new stock for literally years for some reason. Maybe because they work in RL and don't "need" to be a merchant.

When I was noob I walked into the store and IMd the owner and said: "One day I want to have a store just like this!"

I honestly didn't think how that may have come across at the time.
I mean, it may have been taken as competitive threat or taunt,  or just a tactless thing to say because if anyone IMd me and said that I don't know how I would react.

Actually, yes I do, I would ask to see their work and lure them into my sinister capitalist trap lol *rolls eyes*

Anyway, that now makes us the official oldest texture store in SL. I was always careful to say:

 "We are one of the oldest texture stores in Second Life" in promotion and marketing text but it seems now I can say it.

Actually no, I don't think we are. Lauren Fox has been around since day dot too. Not sure where Lauren is, the last I heard she was real sick but recovering.

I like Lauren, always have. She is one of the nicest people I've ever met in SL especially in light of the fact we are competitors by default.
I once asked her how she made some diamond textures she had for sale fully expecting her to tell me to "mind my own" Instead, she said she followed an online tutorial and would send me the URL link if I wanted it.
She's such a sweet kind person with not a bad bone in her body. I wish her well what ever she is doing.

Another texture artist who has been around since 2003 has left SL too. This chaps work was something I always admired.
It is and always was original and authentic even back in the days when 95% of texture stores in SL were largely made up of Google images.

In 2005 I asked him on more than one occasion if I could "buy him out" or buy the right to sell his textures from my store and he gave it some consideration but decided against it - very politely.

He was a nice guy and back then I really admired his obvious talent. (and still do)

Anyway, he's leaving SL because of something in the TOS that means LL technically own everything SL content creators make in SL. He felt Linden Labs were "stealing" from him.

I replied that the clause had been in the Second Life TOS since day one as far as I was aware and I just assumed it was their way of covering their ass in case they use promotional images of SL which by default will contain textures and avatar creations as part of that promotional image. But he was adamant that they were stealing from him and every other creator in SL and in his words:

"It's the last straw, I don't care if someone steals a dollar or a thousand dollars, it's the way they have gone about it and think they can just STEAL it from me without even asking my permission. They could of had anything if they had taken the liberty to ask me"

I don't see the issue here at all. Partly because I have known about it for years and as I say I doubt LL are going to start copying others content and start selling or distributing it.

I think it's really just as I say, a way to ensure content creators can't sue them for displaying their content in marketing images they may use.
After all, 90% of SL is made by its members so the chances are if they use a screeny of some cool place in SL for their website that image is going to contain textures, hair, skins, clothing, buildings and plants all made by people "other" than Linden Labs.

Anyway, he's very upset and has gone to inworldz.com with plans to open up his own website and allow people to buy and download his textures directly so people can use them in other worlds (Like we are about to do)

I wish him the best of luck and hope he finds a new home and friends in his new location.

I don't know how many old time merchants have left SL but there's not many left.

The competition is fierce now unlike "the good old days" when merchants were developing their skills as SL was developing as a platform. We had time to be less than brilliant as there was very little competition.

These days, there are some seriously talented people from all corners of the globe who come in with existing experience in 2D or 3D software. They haven't joined SL to be part of a community, they have come to make money during and possibly because of the current global economic crisis.

The problem is, because of the economical climate consumers in SL aren't spending like they used to. Customers are consciously aware what 300 Linden Dollars equates to in real dollars and thats real money that they believe should be in their real bank accounts.

So we have thousands of very talented content creators all fighting over an ever decreasing amount of spending customers. SL is at saturation point in all genres and sub genres.

Stay at home moms are no longer creating for fun and hobby but are now trying to turn their creations into Linden Dollars by selling it to be able to pay for the land they rent off Linden Labs.

Once they were "OK" with the monthly payment leaving their bank accounts for SL land fees. But as I keep saying, $300 is a lot of money for a luxury purchase or pass time in this economy. How many people own land "just for fun"?

People are no longer spending. I know I don't. Once upon a time 10K a week was a normal spend in SL for various bits and bobs but as my income shrinks so does my spending money and like ripples in a pond this effects other store owners who I once spent money with to reduce their in world spending too and on it goes.

The situation with the RL economy and it's effect on the SL economy will end in one of two ways.

1) There will be a "cleansing" period were only successful designers and stores will be able to afford to keep the engines running and keep from ending up in negative equity.
Smaller stores or designers who aren't pushing themselves due to low motivation (caused by low sales) will eventually give their land up and stores too leaving only the determined and driven people to perhaps enjoy a recovering economy IF and when that happens.

2) The whole SL economic system will crash as merchants continue to engage in price wars reducing the value of their stock (and eventually the value of the Linden Dollar) or just give a lot (or all) of their stuff away under a false sense of security that Traffic = Sales. It doesn't and long term this type of "marketing" is akin to shooting themselves (and other stores) in the foot.

If the spending members of SL can buy or obtain merchandise for a fraction of the price prior to the RL economy,  then they don't need to buy any Linden Dollars for spending money. When that happens LL stops making profit and they either sell or it folds.

Unlike the real economy which can and will bounce back, a virtual economy is different.

Consumers expectations of how much things should cost is driven by us, the merchants and it's the merchants that are controlling the economy even unknowingly.

If you are good content creator then IMO its paramount to remain motivated and make new content whilst honing your skills and hold the value of your stock because if you reduce everything to 50L you can't then increase the prices in 2 years time.

What merchants should be doing is having limited period sales.

Contentparadise.com (where I sell a small collection of my stuff) has sales and discounts periodically and sure enough, people spend more during those sales.

But,  if CP reduced all stock prices on a permanent basis, when consumer confidence has returned to a normal level the expectations of what things "should" cost will stick and people aren't going to start paying double or triple what they have been used to paying during the recession, no matter how much they can afford it or want it.

It's just my opinion of course.

Myself and Martin (Koba Ajax from SL and my partner at www.isourcetextures.com) have decided to remove the free downloads on all images at 600 pixels and just have a collection of freebies we will separate from the commercial stock.

After 12 months, 1200 members and over 2000 downloads a month, only a hand full of people have spent money and bought the higher resolution sizes of 1200 - 4200 pixels.

So what are we loosing? Not profit as we haven't made any and won't do as things are currently arranged.

We would rather make no sales and keep hold of the stock until this recession passes and people aren't afraid or resent spending a dollar.

That time will come, when, is the only other question.










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