Thursday, February 21, 2008

Why prices in Second Life need to rise

Virtually blind talks about content creators getting what they want. Good. Now let me balance the scales. Every time I read about content creators bitching about how hard they work, I'm tempted to post the chat of what I do for 1500L. That's what a vendor gets for one skin, and I can't sell the same session twice. And what I do is beyond XXX rated. The reality is that of all the groups on Second Life, content creators are the best compensated and the most protected. Service providers the least. Most of us work for sub-minimum wage. Were the IRS ever to look closely at Second Life, they would be collecting back taxes, and producing the material for back wages law suits in abundance.

Content creators are often beneficiaries of this sweat shop market for services: they buy space in malls, malls whose traffic is drive by sub minimum wage services. I've learned enough economics to know that people are not payed what they are worth, they are paid the difference between what they offer and the next best alternative. This is why content creators have an abhorance of piracy, but love virtual slavery, because they adore having their customers in a position of not having a choice, and crave advertising. LL collects huge sums of money from "classified" ads, but people who generate traffic by offering services, often sexual services of an extreme nature, are paid in pitiful increments.

This is an unstable situation. Not long ago I got an offer which I turned down, but which i am sure others are getting and which will be taken up on: bounties for information sufficient to identify cheating husbands for a private investigative company. The bounty for a single... hmmm... scalp... was two weeks of escorting part time. And I'm well paid. It is coming, coming soon, because the value of people's rl lives is well more than anything else that people are paid for services.

The reality is that wages for services on second life are below the sustainable level, and either this needs to change, or people will monetize, another work that everyone needs to learn, that value in other ways. One example is the "cam and scram" girls. Girls who pretend to offer cam, take the money and vanish. By the time any one is caught up to, they are long gone.

If anything content prices in Second Life are too low not too high. Consider owning a sim and selling content. It is 1700 USD for the Sim, and 300 USD for the land use fees, and the cost of ones internet, software and computer as capital on the other side. All together thousands of dollars. To make back the cost of the sim in one year means, 3800 USD. Or about 1,000,000L that's just for being here on second life. At about 1500L a skin, that means about 650 skins. And that is just to break even just to play here, not counting the costs of building, vendors, advertising, software and computer. No question, my vote is that content providers are generally underpaid for their content work.

But service providers are even more under paid.

One important thing that needs to happen is that scalability needs to be addressed. In a world of a few hundred thousand players, it is hard to charge enough. In a world of a million, it would be easier to sell the same goods. We need more demand for Second Life, and that means more scalability.

1 comment:

  1. BRAVO!! Artists (and that is exactly what content creators in SL are) should get a fair price for the hard work they put in. They need to value their time and skill more. And yes it would lead to higher prices - but people would value what they bought more. Those who could buy a lot still would and those who couldn't would just buy what they valued the most. I can tell you that I would not buy any less. But I would feel better about supporting the artists who make SL what it is.