Branching out in Virtual Worlds – The “Hows” and “Whats” – Part 2
Moving swiftly on with part two of this thrilling saga ;)
We left the tale just after explaining what the new grids are about and why you should bother with expanding out from Second Life. In part two I will cover some of the key things to look for and be aware of out there in the metaverse.
IS THE GRID CONNECTED TO THE HYPERGRID OR IS IT A CLOSED GRID / WORLD?
Hypergrid? Now what in the world is that? Well very briefly the hypergrid is a technology that is used to connect various grids together making one large puzzle of grids that are interconnected so you can teleport from one grid to another taking your inventory with you.
Some grids are connected to this hypergrid, commonly known as hypergrid enabled others has chosen not to be connected at the moment and these grids are known as closed grids or worlds. Second life is such a grid. Ironically Linden Lab was among the first, if not the first, to experiment with the hypergrid. At any rate this technology was picked up by other developers and has progressed from there.
Some creators embrace the hypergrid enabled grids and some don’t. Basicly it comes down to the inventory. Its will be too much to cover the whys and why nots of the hypergrid. If your interested I recommend you look into it further. The hypergrid is under constant developement and so are issues attached to the permission problems.
Now closed worlds are similar to Second Life. Meaning if they are commercially focussed they will be registered with the DMCA and take issues like copybotting very serious. In InWorldz a proper DMCA filed complaint will be taken care of within 24 hrs or less. Again trying not to sound like a broken record, do your research. The grids DMCA policies are often listed on their individual websites
Closed worlds includes worlds like InWorldz, Avination, 3rdRock, SpotOn3D. (There might be plans on connecting to the hypergrid down the line so make your enquiries with the grids that catch your interest) While you can’t use the hypergrid on these closed grids and therefore since Second Life is a closed grid you can’t travel with your inventory out of Second Life. You can export your own creation out of Second Life. This can be done by using TPV viewers or the program known as Second Inventory. This can only be done if you are the sole creator and in many cases textures and sculpt maps will have to be imported in separately and re-applied (more on that later in part three)
PRICING ON LAND, UPLOADS, ADVERTISING IN-WORLD, ETC
Many virtual worlds out in the metaverse are much, much cheaper than Second Life. Some offer self hosting of regions also (mostly grids that are on the hypergrid like the biggest of them all called OSGrid) Pricing are generally in the range of 40 – 100 usd per month for a full region. InWorldz and Avination, which is presently the two biggest closed grids (not counting Second Life) with an inworld economy, only offer full regions leased directly from them. If you’re looking for land in these worlds your option is to shop around inworld and lease from inworld Region owners / Estates. Prim value on the regions also varies a lot from world to world. Generally its between 15000 – 45000 prims per region
Upload fees again are different. Some worlds offer free unlimited uploads to all their residents. Other worlds offer a merchant “allowance” that you have to apply for via their support ticket system. Others again charge you 10 of their own credits / money to upload (similar to Second Life) no matter who you are.
Advertising inworld is in some worlds free during their beta fase. A good tip is to join or lurk on their individual forums. A lot of good tips and info can be found on those.
In any case be sure to read the TOS that applies to the virtual world that you might be interested in.
PRICING OF YOUR MERCHANDISE / CREATIONS
This is a biggie. In the time I’ve been a resident in InWorldz I’ve seen creators come and go and I’ve seen vast differences of pricing. This is understandable as these new worlds are fairly new to a lot of creators .
Few good pointers are that you’re not dealing with newbies to virtual worlds. Your potential customers are often old timers in virtual worlds and they wont be blinded by fancy advertising.
When pricing (which is hell in any case, I personally hate pricing my things) There are some key things to consider:
— > What are your expenses going to be like, now and in the future?, Think rent / lease, advertising cost, upload cost, etc.
–> What are the competitors pricing
–> What kind of inworld economy is there. Meaning what does it cost to buy inworld currency
–> Price according to the market
–> Aim for breaking even. Not for profit
Dont price as you do in Second Life. I’ve spoken to a few bigger names in InWorldz and they are some of the creators that offer the same range in IW as in SL. They set their pricing similar to their SL stores. Meaning they might charge 199 L$ for a hair/shoe/clothing and they then set their InWorldz price to 199 I`z $. That is one example of how to do it. As said above the expenses are much cheaper than in Second Life and your market is much smaller, keep that in mind. I listed above “Aim for breaking even not for profit” Now why is that? Well as said the market is much smaller, see your store(s) in other worlds as marketing tools. Similar to when you have satellite stores in Second Life. I also touched on the visibility factor. These worlds are smaller and your chance of being seen are greater than in Second Life. That should be your prime focus not the profit. I will say I know of several that do run their stores in other worlds with a profit and not all of them are big Second Life names.
Even if you are a small creator that just loves to create and have fun with that, once you step onto the scene and try to sell your creations business does (sadly) become a factor
The above is mainly aimed at creators of content. Creators of building aides like textures, sculpts, templates, etc. are different since they offer full perm items and therefore face other challenges
This is another biggie. It’s a step you can’t ignore. Poor customer service = bad PR. Word of mouth is the best PR you can ever have. Few pointers to let your customers and potential customers know your level of service
–> Make a group for your store. Supply with a subscriber if they are available in the world(s) you choose.
–> Join advertising groups (turn of notices if you don’t wish to have the spam from other merchants)
–> Inform you customers on a regular basis of your activities. Choose a specific day to keep track. Dont over spam cos that wont pay off.
–> Inform your customers of vacation times. That way they will know if your late in responding.
–> As in Second Life your profile is your face. Use it. List your service level and stick to it.
ADVERTISING OUTSIDE THE VIRTUAL WORLDS
Use the means you have on the internet: Twitter, Blog, Facebook, etc. Let your followers know both inworld and out of world where to find your stores. Its good advertising for you and the virtual worlds that you use. Not to mention that if your customers also fancy trying out new worlds they will know before hand that your are there and they will come to your store and gear up.
Some worlds have outside advertising as well. Often run by their residents. InWorldz being one of them. Check out inBiz and Cariama. inBiz has just launched their beta market place directed at InWorldz residents only where as Cariama is a multi grid market place catering to several virtual worlds. inBiz also runs a directory that is similar to your yellow pages in the Physical World
TRANSFERRING MONEY BETWEEN WORLDS
This is possible in some worlds. In InWorldz there is an ATM that is run by the creator of inBiz. No fees apply on transfer but they do have a 24 hrs limit of 5000L$. Avination also has an ATM. Fees do apply on transfer, I’m unsure if they have a 24 hrs limit. Other worlds use a service called VirWox.
WHAT WORLDS ARE OUT THERE?
Hypergridbusiness has a list that they update on from time to time
This concludes the second part of this saga of the “Hows” and “Whats”. If you have anything you like added feel free to contact me and I will look into it and update these posts accordingly.
Third part will be covering more of the nitty-gritty “Hows” when branching out into the wonderful realm of virtual worlds