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Ebbe Interview on Sansar, and my commentary


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Of course, I have no other knowledge about Sansar than anyone else. That said, the talk about a Maya plugin, scares the crap out of me. Why? I'm asking the same thing. What is the point of a Maya plugin? To import the whole scene? What? What for? Again, what is the point? I've never seen a game engine where you built the scene in a 3D package. I don't even understand why you would want to. And, if you want to just build it all in Maya, and use only Maya features, then is LL simply building a Maya viewer? I'm thoroughly perplexed.

Again, I have to talk about my concerns about the Maya centric direction they are taking. This has been done before, with not very good results. Actually, it's been done twice. The first was Blue Mars, using the famed CryEngine. Blue Mars was more 3Ds Max focused, and that is what I started out using. Blue Mars had to make all the programs to convert all the content over and usable in Blue Mars. The problems were many. Despite trying desparately, I only managed to get a few things working before it all closed. There just wasn't enough of us that were able to get anything to work. Not because we were incompetent, but the compatibility of the software, and the different versions of the software. So, low creator group to begin with, and only a small fraction of them could even get anything to work, despite the many different converters Blue Mars created. Then add on that only someone with a really good pc could handle those environments that the CryEngine was famed for, at the time.

 

Jump forward to Cloud Party, inwhich all items were designed in Maya. There were compatibility issues from the start with the Cloud Party rig. The whole time Cloud Party was open, there was really only 1 animator able to upload their stash of animations. Me, I could upload a custom NPC avatar, and animate him just fine, but nothing I tried worked on their actual avatar. Their rig would not work in Blender, nor any other besides Maya. My motion capture system wouldn't except their rig at all. I actually got a trial version of Maya just to try and figure out the rig, and I found many issues with it, and did get my mocap software to use the rig, but then I was dealing with the z versus y issue. Despite many of us complaining about the rig, CP blew the criticisms off until the end, when 1 of their last posts was about trying to fix the compatibility issues with the rig. Then they closed.

 

So, why was SL able to succeed, while Blue Mars, and Cloud Party failed? Well, I think it is pretty obvious why. In SL, there were no compatibility issues. You didn't need 3ds Max, or Maya, or Blender, or anything. You could get a free animation program, and figure it out, and the next day you are an animator selling animation in SL.Just like I did. Or get a free pattern psd file from the SL wiki, and the next day you are selling SL clothing. Yes, back then, we didn't even have sculpties yet, but anyone could create. Even when sculpties came, there were instantly free programs to make them, and anyone could instantly become a sculpty maker.

Yes, things have progressed, and a 3D program like Maya, or Blender is a better choice to create with, but I'm not sure Maya is really the fit for this. As I have already established, the problem with BM, and CP, was the barrier of entry for people to create. It is impossible for only a small group of creators to create a buzzing marketplace. It takes thousands of creators. At least if LL went with Blender, cost would no longer be an obstacle. Plus, I just see it as a bad move because those very same Maya users, have many more options than Sansar. Even if they got every single available Maya user that wasn't already working for a game company, it would still pale in comparison to just the amount of blender users in SL alone.

I wish LL all the luck in the new year. Me tho, I predict alot of back pedaling when Sansar goes public, if that is even possible.

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I think that Sansar is focused on bringing back one aspect of SL that was popular back when I joined in 2006 and that's the corporate sponsored 'experiences' built by professional design teams. The audience for these experiences will be people who are not savvy with virtual worlds. No small merchants, no fashionistas and no homemakers... until later.

Remember how it was in SL back then when we would have all the real life companies opening up sims and getting real world press? Journalists would write about it and people who heard about SL on the radio or read about it in a magazine would sign in and see what they could see.

Sansar would be like that except somehow these 'experiences' would have a paywall, people would pay for it and LL would get a piece. That's the business plan I think.

LL looked at what they currently have working well in SL : a thriving marketplace supported by a large population of merchants and consumers who are experienced virtual world residents. LL said, 'We already have SL. Why make Sansar exactly like SL which would only cannibalize it? Why not make Sansar something that has pretty much died out in SL, which is the whole corporate sponsored virtual world experience thingy? No cannibalization right? Just as SL has always been an evolving virtual world, Sansar can eventually evolve to support a marketplace, homeowners and savvy residents in the future. Until then, those people have SL.'

I don't know if LL is thinking that at all but it seems to be the direction that Sansar is going.

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im not sure about sansar going in the logical direction posited in the above post.

 

ive been across many mmo's (or there similys) over the past 16 years.and ive seen many close or fall into obliteration,or the infamous "zombie state"

 

the logical direction is almost never taken,especialy when a successor product is involved.blame it on human error,logistics,circumstance.

 

whatever the case,it seems that the most common thing that happens at this point is literally the least probable possibilitys.in these confusing times chaos is the new order.

and once more whats troubling about this is sometinmes absolutely beautiful things can emerge from the chaos,but always after aperiod of massive tumult and upheaval

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Sounds like sales tax about 30% and improved land in the form of size and maybe increased pixels at a cost of probably $100 a month instead of $295. 50% and $10 respectively would be much better. 1 free relatively small plot of land per account would be best as another option.

Limiting creation tools to Maya only would blow the whole thing for sure. I'm sure LL thinks they might increase overall quality that way (which they probably think is the main reason holding things back), but it wouldn't end up having that effect for various other rather obvious reasons.

So we need 'very' cheap land and an economy heavily based on merchandise sales. We also need an easy to use inworld sculpty and/or mesh creation tool that doesn't need to be real complex with all those unnecessary bells and whistles that come with existing mesh programs, and as few limitations as possible and no arbitrary philosophically based nonsense. If LL can manage such all will be well imho. :smileywink:

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Spica Inventor wrote:

Sounds like sales tax about 30% and improved land in the form of size and maybe increased pixels at a cost of probably $100 a month instead of $295. 50% and $10 respectively would be much better. 1 free relatively small plot of land per account would be best as another option.

 

30% sales tax! That is outrageous! If Ebbe takes that line, then you will see me publicly telling every creator I know to avoid Sansar. My suggestion to LL would be a 15% sales tax, and sims at $50/month. Anything more than those numbers, and I will not be advocating for Sansar.

 


Spica Inventor wrote:

Limiting creation tools to Maya only would blow the whole thing for sure. I'm sure LL thinks they might increase overall quality that way (which they probably think is the main reason holding things back), but it wouldn't end up having that effect for various other rather obvious reasons.

See, the first problem is that they need merchants, the 2nd is the quality. If LL doesn't have enough merchants, then quality means nothing at all. If it is the case that LL is trying to up quality with Maya users, that is the wrong way to go about it. In the process, they will cripple their chances for Sansar to succeed.


 

 

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That corporate side failed miserably, not just once, but twice in SL. Yes, first we had big companies coming in and doing nothing, and then LL tried to cater to them by making SL Enterprise, which also failed miserably. Why keep chasing this?

 

Personally, I don't think LL is doing this. It sounds to me like LL is trying to pull in game developers. So, pretty much everyone that uses Unity or Unreal. I'm 1 of those people. Most of the work I do today is for Unity developers. To me, LL is fighting an uphill battle if this is their goal. Why would a developer choose Sansar over Unity or Unreal? Especially, when only Sansar is limiting what tools you can use. Blender is fully supported by Unity, to the point that you can even drag in blend files. Unreal has dedicated video tutorials on how to use Blender with Unreal. They seem to understand the importance of Blender. Plus, I work with small indy teams, and most of them use Blender, not Maya. Yet, this is the EXACT crowd that LL is trying to pull in. Right now, I can go onto the Unity store, and buy a package to create my own Street Fighter game, in literally an afternoon. How is Sansar going to compete with that, or even get to that point? All the advantages that Sansar would have, is completely destroyed by LL limiting the tools you can use.

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Medhue Simoni wrote:

30% sales tax! That is outrageous! If Ebbe takes that line, then you will see me publicly telling every creator I know to avoid Sansar, on my Youtube page. Laughably, my last video, about Bento, got more views than anyone else on the topic. My suggestion to LL would be a 15% sales tax, and sims at $50/month. Anything more than those numbers, and I will not be advocating for Sansar. 

I suspect that LL will adopt something closer to your 15% suggestion, just based on vague noises Ebbe made in some ancient interviews, not anything definitive. But before getting all up-in-arms about a 30% fee, remember, that's exactly the fee adopted pretty universally for app-store-listed user generated content. (Apple goes even further with some really draconian restrictions -- and, personally, I'd be most concerned about any similar limits on alternate revenue sources for Sansar creators.)

Anyway, the "sales tax" rate is not a simple, stand-alone number, and its effect on demand for user generated content is more about what it does to demand for the platform as a whole, not a grievance creators should feel because their content is taxed too much, like crates of tea in Boston harbour. Rather, like the cost of "Land" in SL, fees on sale of content in Sansar are just one lever in the economy. In SL, an oppressively high land cost ends up reducing sales of content, too, just for lack of interest in the over-priced platform. It's certainly possible that Sansar could make the opposite mistake, and I sure hope LL has marketing economists smart enough to set rates that don't starve off demand for the platform, as has happened in SL.

(All that said, I think the most important thing in your first post is the citing of past failures in this space. Folks should realize that Sansar is way more likely to fail before taking public users than it is to survive five years as a going business. Folks are taking this thing awfully seriously, compared to its real prospects of ever getting out of alpha.)

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Qie Niangao wrote:


 

I suspect that LL will adopt something closer to your 15% suggestion, just based on vague noises Ebbe made in some ancient interviews, not anything definitive. But before getting all up-in-arms about a 30% fee, remember, that's exactly the fee adopted pretty universally for app-store-listed user generated content. (Apple goes even further with some really draconian restrictions -- and, personally, I'd be most concerned about any similar limits on alternate revenue sources for Sansar creators.)

Anyway, the "sales tax" rate is not a simple, stand-alone number, and its effect on demand for user generated content is more about what it does to
demand for the platform as a whole
, not a grievance creators should feel because their content is taxed too much, like crates of tea in Boston harbour. Rather, like the cost of "Land" in SL, fees on sale of content in Sansar are just one lever in the economy. In SL, an oppressively high land cost ends up reducing sales of content, too, just for lack of interest in the over-priced platform. It's certainly possible that Sansar could make the opposite mistake, and I sure hope LL has marketing economists smart enough to set rates that don't starve off demand
for the platform
, as has happened in SL.

I completely agree with the points you've made. I will add tho, that if LL accepts FBX files, there will be no way for them to control alternative revenue sources for Sansar creators. For instance, let's imagine they have a 30% tax, and I decide not to sell things there. I could still sell full perm stuff to the community, and not deal with LL at all.

See, I have a very different view of commission than these tech guys, as I grew up in a time and era where the curator only asked for 15%. In my younger years, I was a traditional artist, selling paintings and drawings. I was in many of the smaller galleries around Detroit. Only the largest galleries asked for more than 15%. Mind you too, these are real world places, with real world costs. For the life of me, I can't understand why any artist would give away their stuff at a 30% commission, and some places charge more. I refuse to do it. They can all kiss my butt, and I'll still make money off their platform. Now, if they all want to change their tune, and realise how they are nothing without us, really, then we'll all make more money. These platforms are only hurting themselves by limiting their own content. With the market for 3D content growing, and artists having many more options, these platforms are going to need to change, if they want to compete.

 


Qie Niangao wrote:

(All that said, I think the most important thing in your first post is the citing of past failures in this space. Folks should realize that Sansar is way more likely to fail before taking public users than it is to survive five years as a going business. Folks are taking this thing awfully seriously, compared to its real prospects of ever getting out of alpha.)

This is exactly why I'm begging LL to be more open about the development. The openness will help to promote the platform validly, without unwanted hype, and foster a more open platform for creators to play with.

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Medhue Simoni wrote:


Spica Inventor wrote:

Sounds like sales tax about 30% and improved land in the form of size and maybe increased pixels at a cost of probably $100 a month instead of $295. 50% and $10 respectively would be much better. 1 free relatively small plot of land per account would be best as another option.

 

30% sales tax! That is outrageous! If Ebbe takes that line, then you will see me publicly telling every creator I know to avoid Sansar, on my Youtube page. Laughably, my last video, about Bento, got more views than anyone else on the topic. My suggestion to LL would be a 15% sales tax, and sims at $50/month. Anything more than those numbers, and I will not be advocating for Sansar.

 

You say that as if there could only be one fee system. One of the big changes they talked about with Sansar will be accounts with varying levels of "trust" and more robust tying of accounts to real-world people, at least with "highly trusted" ones. It should be very possible to have some accounts paying very little up-front with higher commissions (better for small hobbyist creators) and others paying more up-front in exchange for lower commissions (better for those whose virtual business is their real-world job.)

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Theresa Tennyson wrote:


You say that as if there could only be one fee system. One of the big changes they talked about with Sansar will be accounts with varying levels of "trust" and more robust tying of accounts to real-world people, at least with "highly trusted" ones. It should be very possible to have some accounts paying very little up-front with higher commissions (better for small hobbyist creators) and others paying more up-front in exchange for lower commissions (better for those whose virtual business is their real-world job.)

I think you are reading into that way too much. Nowhere was this even remotely hinted at, that different merchants would pay different rates. What I think you are talking about has to do with who has more abilities. 1 of those abilities is selling items. Every single person selling items will need to have information about themselves available. I'm pretty sure that was the point of the "trust" convo.

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Throughout the interview Ebbe looks as if he wanted to light up a Havana cigar to pair with his vino.  Just sayin.

 

PS I would have offered him one of mine. . .

PPS Next time you have an opportunity to interview the boss ask him about his golf game.  Or better yet interview him while playing a round.  You can read ones character when golfing.

 

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Medhue Simoni wrote:


Theresa Tennyson wrote:


You say that as if there could only be one fee system. One of the big changes they talked about with Sansar will be accounts with varying levels of "trust" and more robust tying of accounts to real-world people, at least with "highly trusted" ones. It should be very possible to have some accounts paying very little up-front with higher commissions (better for small hobbyist creators) and others paying more up-front in exchange for lower commissions (better for those whose virtual business is their real-world job.)

I think you are reading into that way too much. Nowhere was this even remotely hinted at, that different merchants would pay different rates. What I think you are talking about has to do with who has more abilities. 1 of those abilities is selling items. Every single person selling items will need to have information about themselves available. I'm pretty sure that was the point of the "trust" convo.

They also never said they wouldn't have different merchants pay different rates and they'd be foolish not to.  In fact, they already do just that - you can either have a Marketplace store and pay 5% commission, or an inworld store and pay 0% commission while paying a certain fixed amount each week/month/whatever that will eventually make its way back to the Lab.

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There can only be one solution ... Make it completely free and ad-based. Free land for everyone, free creation of objects for everyone. Once you sell, you pay. Let's face it: It's a competition for users' time. If I can spend my free time with my tablet in bed, playing a free game, I will not pay 50 bucks to sit at my PC with a diving mask in my face. Unless I am a PC gamer tech freak, which most people are not. I hope this won't fail big time again ...

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I look at the way Linden Lab treats its community of Creators and Developers now, then compare that with the burden they are putting on the same people in Project Sansar. Merchants in SL can't even get basic "page views" stats out of LL. Why would ANY competent developer invest in a product that takes more up-front and gives back nothing but resistance and the "cold shoulder"?

I talk about it more elsewhere, but it's something LL has to change or they won't find first-level developers that are willing to undertake the effort from the "alien outsider" perspective.

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Kwakkelde Kwak wrote:


Qie Niangao wrote:

Folks are taking this thing awfully seriously, compared to its real prospects of ever getting out of alpha.)

So how many days to april? then we can close this chapter once and for all.

It may be of interest that April 1st, All Fools Day, is the anniversary of Ebbe getting the push from Microsoft.

***Call me for a date; no, not that sort of date; nor that one.

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That is an issue. It kind of points to Sansar having some wonky mesh requirements that other engines don't foist on you.

What concerns me though were the two hairless breedables in the beginning of the video. One seemed to be considering self-immolation in the fireplace until the other one took him aside for suicide counseling for the remainder of the video.

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You need a userbase to make profits. The way the SL economy is right now, LL profits are largely based on land rent to the well off while merchant profits are largely based on sales to the commoner. The high price of land keeps the commoner out of the game which means less profits for the merchants. The only question is by what degree and I think the degree is massive. I believe SL/Sansar could have ten times the userbase and therefore ten times the profits (or 5 times at 50% sales tax) if the revenue stream was changed from land based to inventory based. Peeps are willing to spend money on things they can show for it such as inventory placables, and the commoner is not anywhere near as willing to spend their money on things that go poof such as land, and they do very much want their own land to play around in.

All that really matters is total net profits and not Libertarian philosophically based public sector (LL is the public sector, right?) hehe tax ratings and how always evil taxes are. Just call it cut distribution if it makes you feel better. :smileytongue:

Since most professional merchants are highly motivated by profits, having an increased userbase to support those profits is the best way to get more high quality merchants into the game. This in turn will have a snowball effect and increase userbase as well which will have a snowball effect and get more merchants into the game, and this in turn will.....etc. etc....

As it is right now a catch 22 exists. A virtuous circle is what everyone needs instead.

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Spica Inventor wrote:

You need a userbase to make profits. The way the SL economy is right now, LL profits are largely based on
land rent to the well off
while merchant profits are largely based on sales to the commoner. The high price of land keeps the commoner out of the game which means less profits for the merchants. The only question is by what degree and I think the degree is massive. I believe SL/
Sansar could have ten times the userbase
and therefore ten times the profits (or 5 times at 50% sales tax) if the revenue stream was changed from land based to inventory based. Peeps are willing to spend money on things they can show for it such as inventory placables, and the commoner is not anywhere near as willing to spend their money on things that go poof such as land, and they do very much want their own land to play around in.

All that really matters is total net profits
and not Libertarian philosophically based public sector (LL is the public sector, right?) hehe tax ratings and how always evil taxes are. Just call it cut distribution if it makes you feel better. :smileytongue:

Since most professional merchants are highly motivated by profits,
having an increased userbase
to support those profits
is the best way to get more high quality merchants
into the game. This in turn will have a snowball effect and increase userbase as well which will have a snowball effect and get more merchants into the game, and this in turn will.....etc. etc....

As it is right now
a catch 22 exists
.
A virtuous circle is what everyone needs instead.

1) You said: "... land rent to the well off ..." This is not true. Rental of Regions/Sims is indeed concentrated among those people/companies with sizeable holdings (number of sims they own). But they are not "well off". They pay a fixed price every month regardless of usage or occupancy. However their cash in is always variable. Thus they are always playing the game of smoothing out their cash flow. By the time they are done, their average income is small in comparison to many Merchants/Creators.

2) You said: "... Sansar could have ten times the userbase ..." I don't know how you arrive at that number, but I think you are way off-base. Sansar will depend on users with much higher spec computers and skills. Higher than those required to run SL. That means the Sansar potential customer pool will necessarily be smaller than that for SL. Based on the requirements for extra (and not yet available) hardware, that pool grows even smaller. The only way LL could make Sansar return a higher percentage of the potential pool is to make it absolutely amazing and trouble-free. I see no indication in LL's history that they consider those worthy goals. Therefore I suspect they will run Sansar with the same "customer as adversary" philophy.

3) You said: "All that really matters is total net profits..." That is correct at a very simplistic level. It's just like saying "having an expensive car" or "having Superman's strength". Great concept .. getting there ain't so easy. As you know, Profits are those monies left over after paying expenses from income. When the "host" (LL in this case) continuously rebukes all efforts to reduce expenses for BOTH Merchant and LL, that results in lower profits.

The profits currently earned by Merchants/Creators and Landlords are workable, but not ideal. Very simple changes in the way LL operates SL could make those profits higher. Not only would expenses be reduced (in time mainly but also in hard currency) but the gross income would increase. If LL treated Merchants/Creators/Landlords as partners instead of enemies, the overall number of sales would go up, profits would go up, and everyone would win.

Project Sansar appears (so far) to continue the same "customer as enemy" philosophy and also is aiming at a larger cut of income earned by Merchants/Creators (and maybe Landlords). Profits retained by the Middle Class will drop, desire to participate will decline .. and overall income will shrink. The dynamics of the existing SL financial machine are already taxed (no pun intended) to the limit. LL cannot alter the laws of finance simply because they want more money. They must provide a way for their direct customers to make more money first.

4) You said: "... having an increased userbase ... is the best way to get more high quality merchants ..." This is true. But simply opening the doors on a "New" platform does not equate to more users. LL should use the platform and income they have now to perfect and improve their money earning skills. Instead they seem to feel that declining income is "someone else's fault" and have thus decided to do something different. That something different is already showing signs of trouble as LL has also seen fit to restrict the userbase to a very specific segment.

If they are basing the business model of Project Sansar on the belief that higher-skill, higher-quality Creators will magically deliver more monied customers, they are tying their own hangman's noose. They are immediately putting themselves behind and after the Creators. Yet based on past behavior, LL considers helping those Creators as anathema to their own goals. If Project Sansar is based more heavily on them getting "pass through" money from Creators (and less on direct to end-user income such as SL's land rental economy) then they have gone in exactly the wrong direction.

5) You said: "... a catch 22 exists." Absolutely correct. The "Catch" is that the one entity capable of providing the most help, and that also absolutely depends on the success of their customers .. spends most of their time doing things that drive customers away and pisses them off. The "Catch-22" is not because of some error or fault in the system. It is because Linden Lab is actively and forcefully pedaling the wrong direction.

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The problem with your analysis, is that the amount of merchants will go down more and more according to the tax on goods. There is no maximized bell curve when it comes to how many will participate. The higher you raise it, the less merchants you have. IMHO, the last thing you want to do is limit the number of merchants, cause they generate money. Less merchants equates to less profits, and less products to buy. More merchants equates to more profits and more products to buy. So, any tax on the products will lower the amount of merchants, which lowers the amount of products, which lowers the amount of profits.

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Like I said, net profits (after taxes and other expenses) is all that will matter to a merchant or LL in any real economic analysis. Tax rates or whatever you want to call them are quite irrelevent taken by themselves. More merchants equate to greater profits because competition increases quality and greater selection and diversity brings in more customers and therefore a larger 'marble'  pool.

Libertarians are 'trained' to not look at the bigger picture because the bigger picture promotes 'commie thought'. Free your mind from philosophical horse blinders for a better economic analysis.

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1) You said: "... land rent to the well off ..."

I was talking about land profiteering in general, LL in particular, and yes, the definition of 'well off' can vary depending on ones personal criteria or biases.

2) You said: "... Sansar could have ten times the userbase ..."

I said 'SL/Sansar'. Understanding that should change it a bit huh?:smileywink: My ten times the userbase was a conservative estimate. 100 times is possible in the next 50 years if LL plays its cards right. Don't need a halodeck, but the next best thing is quite possible in a relatively short period of time. imho.

3) You said: "All that really matters is total net profits...That is correct at a very simplistic level."

Well yes, there are things such as moral and philosophical principles at work as well and being factors, but imho, the profit motive is a much greater factor for most (to keep the game running at maximum improvement levels), and particularly for merchant types and the LL for involvement in these VR games.

'The profits currently earned by Merchants/Creators and Landlords are workable...gross profits'

The only peeps who really care about gross profits (outside those interested in a general economic analysis) are the stock holders and only because revenue is an indicator on how a company will do in the longer term. Merchants will compute their time involved producing things as a gross expense rather arbitrarily imho, and SL has entertainment benefits that most RL jobs do not. So how does one figure what is credit and what is debit in virtual worlds? I guess it depends on the individual mostly and how he want to weight things more than some standard equation.

5) You said: "... a catch 22 exists." Absolutely correct.

I agree, there are many catch 22s going on, but the main one by far at the moment is the existing very detrimental price pumping, rich man supporting exclusively economic model.

 

 

 

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