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the end of the road

Kitty-cat at the End of the World

The recent trend in SL-related discussions is: what can be done to save the world, something like that. Most people fear that if SL keeps losing sims at the current rate, the end of the virtual world will come soon, not because we would face a land shortage of course, but because since LL bases its income on a land sales model, they won’t earn enough funds to keep it going. Lots of possible solutions are been suggested in all available forums, but as tradition dictates, nothing is heard from the Lab itself. Suggestions include lowering tier costs ASAP (as a way to quickly stimulate land acquisition and holding), requiring land to sell products in the marketplace (because it has become a process of output without input, of cashing out from SL without contributing to its maintenance in any way), charging X amount for inventory storage capacity (in my humble opinion, a stupid idea that doesn’t guarantee user retention at all, though imposing a fair inventory limit for free accounts sounds logical from a premium vs. basic perspective), etc., etc.

Obviously, LL needs money to operate its virtual realm, and the only way to accomplish that is to keep the world populated, that’s all I understand. What to change  or do to make it so is beyond my comprehension (meaning I don’t have time to ponder about that right now), but I would think the first measures to address should consider long-time residents’ requests, premium and non-premium alike, because we are the most likely users to return again and again, as we have done over the years –after all, our RL cash powers SL. Of course new blood needs are equally necessary, firstly as a way to bring in new revenue, and secondly to avoid fossilization.

The frequency of these doomsday talks today speaks of apocalypse, but how real or imminent that omen is basically depends on personal experience. As long as you don’t face the effects of this reality, you might think people are overacting, but when it knocks on your door you begin to wonder if it’s time to pack and fly away.

So it happened last night that after reading a few blogs, some of which presented posts related to this topic, I logged in as I do every other day. As usual, there were several IMs and note cards waiting for me.  One of them was particularly unexpected: It was from the Lionheart Estate team, the place I’ve been living in for the past two months. What did I do?, was my first thought. My rent wasn’t due yet, so there was no reason to get a reminder (their “rent-o-matic” system doesn’t send out reminders anyway, you have them right outside your porch when the time comes). I left no litter above or around my property, so I shouldn’t expect a warning of that kind either. I always try to be a good neighbor, so people living next to me shouldn’t have anything to complain about. It was none of those: it was actually some sort of eviction note. “Dear Xeriko,” it began, “Your Sim, Lionheart Rafiki, is scheduled to be closed on February 1st, 2013.”

Lionheart Estate is a relatively small region extending, on its current state, 19 full sims only. It will go down two sims in a week, and as the estate owner explains in the note card, he can’t discard more sim closings in the future: if they become unprofitable, they have to go. Both sims disappearing right now are classified as commercial land, if that gives you any clue.

It is actually this kind of small project the ones experiencing the effects of LL and SL struggling economy the most. I even wonder, is LL really aware of what’s happening in its own land? Is it looking away? Is this part of some plan? Do LL even care?

For me, it would be important to hear from LL what it thinks of all the ideas floating around about the SL future, and people’s suggestions on how to change direction and help the economy as well. LL needs to listen to old residents because that’s the hardcore crowd that has made what SL is today. LL desperately needs to listen to newcomers if it expects to attract and keep most of them. All I know is that the remedies should come fast or tomorrow will never come.