Wednesday, August 18, 2010

IW Introduces Setup Fees

On September 1st The founders of Inworldz will start to charge a $75 USD setup fee on the purchase of a new simulator. The tier will remain the same for an island at $75 USD per month. So if you plan on purchasing a sim on the IW grid after September 1st, it will cost you a total of $150 USD for that first month and then $75 USD each following month.

Many residents have known about this pending setup fee for months. I remember it being tossed about this past spring, so it is with no surprise that it is being implemented. The justifications for the setup fee are many, as are the arguments against its implementation at this time. While there is never a perfect time to introduce new charges, recent stability improvements makes the proposition of a setup fee much more palatable than it was this past spring. If the founders were to continue to hold off on implementing the setup fees, I believe their ability to support growth would be compromised. The inability to properly support growth wrecked havoc on that other grid and should be avoided at all costs.

Knowing setup fees are imminent, may residents have, or are thinking of, purchasing sims before the fees take effect. Many of these residents plan on offsetting the tier expense for these newly acquired sims by renting out parcels. In a normal market this strategy is not only valid but the norm. However, the post September 1st land market will not be normal.

On September 1st, the supply of rental properties will be abnormally increased compared to the time period before the setup fees were announced. This is a natural consequence of many new sim owners racing to purchase before the setup fees are enacted. These new owners will now attempt to offset their expenses by offering parcels for rent. Thus adding to an already saturated market, as evidenced by the number of rental advertisements currently in the forums. The status change of these new sim purchasers from renter to owner will only further increase the supply of rental units on the market. For a period after September 1st there will be a glut of rental units on the market and demand for these units will be exceptionally low.

One can argue this is the natural state of things. Supply and demand will always balance out in the long run and you would be correct. But, the move to equilibrium, while inevitable, is none the less painful. Many of the people who planned on renting out parts of their new sim to help cover costs are going to be disillusioned when they realize the rental supply vastly out weighs the demand if only in the short run.

The question now raised is, when should you buy that new simulator? If you do not plan on using rental income to pay tier then the answer is now, before the setup fees take effect. However, if you will be depending on rental income to offset tier expense, you need to take a second look before purchasing.

Ask yourself a few questions: How confident am I in my ability to rent enough parcels to cover tier? Knowing the market, at least initially, will be saturated with properties for rent, what pricing can I reasonably expect to charge? If I cannot cover tier with the rental income, will I still be able to pay the tier on my own or will I lose the sim?

The answers will be different for everyone. If you are confident in the timing and your ability to pay tier then by all means make your purchase now. If you have doubts though, I urge you to think twice before plunging into this market. Waiting a few months, while the ever increasing number of new residents eats up that surplus in rental properties, could actually save you more money than acting prematurely to avoid the $75 USD setup fee.

Sunday, August 15, 2010

They Are Watching Me!!

Ever get the feeling you are being watched? How about being watched by a group of say, three or four people? You know the feeling I suspect. There you are, busy doing something uber important in your home or shop and then suddenly your pixel self gets a cold shudder.

You glance up at your radar but see nothing. You do a quick 360 with your cam and still, you see nothing. Everything is in place. Everything is as it should be, yet you know you are being watched. You can feel it in your core. There are eyes, pairs of eyes, just beyond your sight.

Ghosts. That is what I call them at least. It is the ghosts that causes your avi's skin to crawl every so often. Like many unbelievable things in IW, ghosts do exist. Lots of them. Not only do they exist but they are relatively easy to find if you know where to look. I have four of them watching over me right this minute while I compose this post. Don't believe me? I will prove it. Take a look at this picture.

There they are. All four of them are here with me and my close personal friend and alt, Yuuka. Yuuka and I are standing all tiny on the ground in the lower right. Actually, there might be a fifth ghost hiding in that lot but I am not completely sure. I sometimes think that some ghosts cannot be photographed but I still have to study that.

So now I am sure, you are wondering how you too can have a good-old-time tracking down ghosts. Well you are in luck, for it is really quite simple. Just go to one of the sandboxes and gaze up at the sky. For some reason (I think it is the warm air currents) they seem to like to gather over the sandboxes. On any given day you are more than likely to see at least one or two hovering overhead.

So there you have it. Now you know how to spot ghosts in IW. So next time you get that shudder running along your spine or your avi's skin gets unusually clammy, look up. You may just see a ghost watching over you.

Monday, August 9, 2010

MLP V2 Comes to IW

It is here thanks to Revision McCallen's hard work. The MLP V2 has been ported from SL to Inworldz for all to use and abuse. But the best part is, Revision has decided to open source the whole project just as it is in SL so we all have full access to use it in our own creations. Thanks to Ayla Holt, you can find the MLP all boxed up here: Community Center, The Park (139, 63, 21)

Some have wasted no time in employing the MLP. The creators over at MUSE! have been working diligently to get their set of animations loaded up into their newest lines of beds. Rumor has it they will be selling in the 2200 to 2600 I'z price range. While for some, this is a hefty price tag, early adopters are use to paying a premium for bragging rights. I am sure that price range will not last long once other creators bring their bed products to market.

While the MLP is a very welcomed addition to IW, I would like to remind everyone that the MLP is useless to the average resident unless they have animations to use with it. Right now the only people who can take advantage of this very generous gift to the community are the more established creators with access to appropriate animations. To make this a truly universal gift to the entire IW community, we need animations. It is in this light I would like to invite any and all animators to donate an animation or two to the community that can be used to make the MLP a truly universal gift.

I am not calling for a ton of animations to be given away free, only a few so the average resident can have some basic furniture such as a couch, bed or chairs without being beholden to furniture creators. This shouldn't be viewed as a threat to content creators however. The truth is, many residents will be more than happy to buy well crafted furniture. Yet not all residents are in a position to spend even a nominal amount for what is essentially a game.

We are bring a lot of ideas, products and customs with us as we migrate from other grids. Let us use this opportunity to import one of the better aspects of the other grids, free access to the basic elements of a virtual world. This should include the ability to make simple furniture functional. Revision McCallen has very generously ported and donated the MLP to the IW community so that all residents can create their own functional furniture. Yet the MLP alone is not enough. Basic animations need to be made available as freebies to complete the vision Revision has started. So if you are reading this and you have the ability to create animations, please consider releasing one or two to the community to use with the MLP.

Thursday, August 5, 2010

To Copy or Not to Copy

That is the current million I'z question for Inworldz creators. The following post is based on Inworldz issues and personal opinion. It is not meant to tell another creator how to run their business or price their products. I feel that's important to state and important for readers to remember; as often, a personal opinion is turned, by others, into suddenly telling them how to run their business. It's meant as a thinking post, please take it as such.

As a past consumer on the Papa Grid, I often bought non-copy items. Rare was it that items were lost: either on rez in my parcel or through inventory loss. Yes, it did happen, and sometimes, for others, it was catastrophic. But it is a rare occurrence over all, which made buying non-copy items a low risk factor. Sometimes price played into a part, sometimes it didn't. Most often it was items that could be given to another once I was done with them. Sometimes they were what I referred to as 'collector's' items and a one time buy that would only need to be rez'd once to complete a set for landscaping, or worn once for a special theme I was trying to accomplish.

For Inworldz, I have a completely different outlook on how I purchase my items. Inworldz is a beta sim based on the OS environment with new coding going into effect with each new release. What does this mean over all? Basically, that it can be unstable at times.

As a creator who isn't always in world to replace products immediately if broken due to a new bug (or an old one that was not discovered at first release), it is important for me to make sure that my clients receive the best customer service that I can offer them. For me, that means making sure my items allow for copies. Otherwise, they may have to wait a day or two for me to get in world and replace their item. With an item that they bought as copy, if it borks for any reason, they can attempt to 'fix' it themselves and replace the old with a new copy. If that doesn't do the trick, then something went majorly wrong. At that point, the IW dev's need to be contacted because now it involves their inventory and not just a 'sim bug.'

However, not every creator feels the same, and many do offer non-copy items. Most have excellent customer service and either do not mind or resign themselves to the task of replacing items at the whim of the grid. That is their right to do so but as a consumer, it's hard for me to buy non-copy items unless it's a 'collectors item' and I have past experience with the creator to know their customer service is above standards. Especially if I am purchasing a single item at a high cost of I'z. If I don't know the reputation of the creator, then I have no idea if they are going to replace the item if it is lost on rez or through a grid glitch. I have also seen occasional "not responsible for grid glitches" signs. Which is a complete turn off from purchasing anything by that particular creator.

I often feel that when setting an item, especially items that people place onto their properties, as non-copy...I am being price gouged, with a few exceptions. If I want more then one copy or more copies then the pack allows, I have to purchase the product again, at cost. Yes, real world stores work this way as well. If I buy a plant, I can't just rez a new one from my inventory in the real world. I understand that. However, I also don't advertise your plant for you with grower information. Not unless someone asks anyway. This is where real world and virtual world differ. Wandering a grid and coming across your item on my parcel, with a simple right click/edit, anyone can see who the creator is and go to purchase their own. I take that into consideration when purchasing no-copy items. If they are expensive and not 'unique' (i.e. something similar can be bought through another store at a lower cost and/or with copy permissions) I generally won't purchase. That is based on my own theory of cost versus value. What cost am I promoting to grid wanders versus the value they receive for the item? If it's not a unique item and it's not copy, there isn't much value in purchasing it. I can get similar elsewhere for less and that gives it value.

The question asked, to copy or not to copy, has not been answered. Each creator must make that choice for themselves. They must base it on how much customer service they are willing and have time to offer, and whether or not their item is unique enough to have value based on non-copy and cost. It's a hard decision and one creators deal with on an on-going basis.