ESA report; 40% of US gamers likely to buy VR headset within next year


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Every year The Entertainment Software Association (ESA) publishes a report called ‘Essential facts about the Computer and Video Game Industry’.
In it they share some of their facts, figures and findings on computer gaming in the USA.

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It is quite interesting to read and made easy for us modern folks by rather nice ‘infographics’ and easy to understand charts.

For those of us who are involved with virtual worlds, VR in general and gaming, pretty much everything in it is interesting but I’ll share a few details in particular just because they relate to me.
And for the record, I’m a 43 year old resident and creator of the virtual reality world Second Life and have been a gamer since ‘Pong’.

In the US women are 41% of all gamers, still the minority.
I think that the main reason women are still behind on the men is because they are still catching up.
When I was a little girl gaming was a bit more of a boys thing, that never stopped me, I was always one of those girls who did whatever she wanted, who played war with the kids next door, set stuff on fire, fell out of trees and got into fights.
But I am glad that the number of women gamers is going up.

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48% of the most frequent gamers play social games.
This might be a good bit of info for Ebbe to mention in a next interview, Second Life and Sansar could, I guess, be seen as “social games” and being part of something that is almost half the entire game market sounds good.

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This one is very interesting.
40% of all US gamers say they will likely purchase “VR” within the next year.
This is of course a silly state ment as you can’t really buy VR, so they obviously mean VR headsets.
There are about 117 million households in the US, 63% of these are home to at least one person who plays video games regularly (3 hours or more per week).
That means that roughly 23.5 million people in the US alone are planning to purchase a VR headset.
There are still some people out there who are sceptical and think all this will be a phase and that VR will fail again, but everything seems to be pointing in the opposite direction.
Disclaimer; I can’t do math.

If you want to read the entire report you can find it by clicking here.


show #114: ebbe (svvr 2016 part1)

Drax & Ebbe at SVVR

the drax files radio hour [with jo yardley]

show #114 show #114

svvr 2016 – the third installment of this conference – is concluding as this show goes to air: three days of the newest vr gear in the expo hall plus panels and talks about immersive storytelling, 360 video best practices and a fireside chat with palmer luckey.

what more do you want?

well, if you are a drax files fan you want linden lab ceo ebbe altberg give you a bit more info on the just announced invite for creatots to project sansar. and that is what we have today – a brief chat in the hallway about what we can expect from this next generation virtual world.

all the other hours of interviews conducted with vr luminaries and product pitch-men/women = you have to wait another week.

here is ebbe:

and as indicated: all the other stuff – infinadeck, project alice, drax talking to timoni west from…

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New Project Sansar Screenshots


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At the Collision conference Ebbe Altberg (CEO of Linden Lab) had a presentation which included some short images of Project Sansar.

The video is not yet online so if you’ve missed it, you’ll have to wait.
The Collision team will put the video online but it may take a few weeks.

Luckily for us all, Maddy Gynoid was on standby, watched the live stream and took a few screenshots.
With his permission I share them here, you can also visit his personal blog to read the actual article he wrote in German by clicking this link.


This first picture shows us a science fiction type of post apocalyptic world.
It looks wonderful but perhaps most interesting about this screenshot are the buttons, or lack thereof!
We only see a few small buttons at the right of the screen, their function we can only guess, but let’s take a closer look;


This next picture got me very excited as it shows a theme I love; archeology.
I’d love to dig up some virtual ruins.
But it is also interesting to note that the shadows, clearly from some sort of grid or skylight above, doesn’t seem to work on part of the ruim that is sticking out.

Sansar_@_Collision_01Another wonderful picture, as a history addict, it makes me very happy to see subjects such as these, I can’t wait to go explore some ancient locations like these.
Interesting detail is the bit at the top of the passage there, looks like the 3D scanner didn’t quite get that corner scanned properly.

Sansar_@_Collision_02The last picture here shows someone building within Sansar with an Oculus and the Oculus controllers.
It looks interesting and I for one look forward to building within world while using a VR headset… as soon as I can afford one that is.
From the screenshot we can’t conclude that much, can we actually build inworld like this or is it just a matter of moving bits around that we’ve bought on marketplace or build in Blender or Maya?

As soon as the video is online I’ll probably share it here and let’s see what else we can learn from that.


Linden Lab opens applications for Project Sansar


Today Linden Lab opened up the applications for their new virtual world; Project Sansar.

Besides the occasional image and a tiny video, still very little is known about PS but I think that many Second Life users are very keen to go and have a look.

I quote from the press release;

SAN FRANCISCO – April 26, 2016 – Linden Lab®, the creators of Second Life®, today announced that applications have opened for an upcoming “Creator Preview” for Project SansarTM, the new platform for user-created social VR experiences. Interested 3D content creators can now apply at and accepted applicants will begin to receive invitations later this summer.

Slated for general availability at the end of 2016, Project Sansar will democratize virtual reality as a creative medium. It will empower people to easily create, share, and ultimately monetize their own interactive social experiences that can be enjoyed in VR with head-mounted displays like the Oculus Rift and HTC Vive, as well as via PCs and, later, mobile devices. The platform enables professional-level quality and performance with exceptional visual fidelity, 3D audio, and physics simulation, while also solving the complex engineering challenges that have previously limited creating and publishing social VR experiences to just sophisticated professionals.

“Creating social VR experiences is too hard and expensive today, and that limits the value and growth of this incredible new medium,” said Ebbe Altberg, Linden Lab CEO. “Creating your own VR experience shouldn’t require an engineering team, and Project Sansar will make that possible. Over the past few months, a small number of creators have already made an impressive variety of awesome social VR experiences with Project Sansar, from virtual versions of real-world locations to fantasy worlds and stylized game-like environments, and more. We’ll soon be ready for many more creators to join Project Sansar, and we can’t wait to see what people will create.”

I myself am cautiously excited about PS and really want to get inside and see what my options are, will I be able to recreate 1920s Berlin there or get started on 1940s London or will PS just not be suitable and will I have to stay behind in Second Life?

Only one way to find out!
So I signed up right away and hope to be let in when they open the backdoor.

The website where you sign up looks very smooth, that Project Sansar logo looks very professional.
The name has been trademarked, someone has spend time designing the logo, there is a website… almost as if they are sticking with that name…

Are you going to sign up and if so, what are you planning on trying in PS?


1920s Berlin machinima shown on German TV


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National TV station ZDF in Germany today showed part of the 1920s Berlin machinima made by Pepa Cometa.

The show, called ‘Volle Kanne‘, is a sort of morning talkshow with a short item about the interesting things they found online.

The machinima Pepa Cometa made and put online 3 weeks ago has had over 13 thousand views so far and has impressed many people.

It is great that it now reaches an even larger audience in Germany, as quite a large percentage of SL users are German.

You should be able to watch the item by clicking here, Berlin is mentioned around 1:00.

Thank you for the heads up Maddy!

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First look at Facebook’s Social VR


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When Facebook bought Oculus Rift, people laughed or got angry, wondering what kind of VR nightmare would be the result of such a match.
How would they combine social media and VR?
And could it one day become a threat to Second Life?

Yesterday at the Facebook developers conference a very impressive demonstration was given that showed some of what they have in mind.

See the video here, uploaded by UploadVR (click to  visit).


To me it looks like a lot of fun, a sophisticated and even creative toy but not much more, not yet anyway.
But it shows a lot of potential.

At the moment we have avatars that are only hands and heads in a static, not moving 360° location.
But of course it will only be a matter of time before we can have these experiences in moving and fully interactive 3D locations and with complete and more realistic avatars.

I think I will enjoy this, I can see myself meeting my sister, mother or aunty this way while they are far away.
But with one click a then easily available and cheap 3D camera we can be with each other in the same location.

So will it threaten SL and Sansar?
Yes and no.
It looks like Social VR is going to work and be fun and for lots of people it will be more than enough, it will offer them a VR experience that is easy to use, they’ll enjoy and that will be all they need.
With many improvements and new options coming in the future in a way, it is competition for SL and Sansar.

But as long as they do not give us the amazing and unique freedom to create what we want and be what we want to be that we’re enjoying in Second Life and expecting in Sansar, Linden Lab doesn’t have to worry.


Here is a closer look at the actual VR footage, uploaded by Road to VR (click to visit).

Social VR is going to lower the threshold for millions of people who right now are not (yet) interested in VR, it will be their first experience and maybe it will make them want to see more, experience more… create more?

The golden ticket remains the absolute freedom SL is offering us now, that is what makes it unique.
In short; until I can build 1920s Berlin in Facebook’s Social VR, I won’t be leaving SL.


Second Life video about 1920s Berlin has 10.000 views within 2 weeks


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The stunning machinima made by Pepa Comata about The 1920s Berlin Project in Second Life has been watched over 10.000 times since it was uploaded two weeks ago!

It has been picked up by a few websites and shared on Facebook and twitter, reaching an audience beyond those who know and use Second Life already.

A nice article about the video was published on ‘The Creators Project’, you can read it by clicking here.
They have close to a million ‘likes’ on Facebook and amongst these readers quite a few were impressed even if some were surprised to learn Second Life was still even around.

One viewer commented;

I’ve been meaning to uninstall Second Life from my pc. Good thing I didn’t.

On twitter the video was also shared and received a few wonderful compliments;

This shows the power of well made, good looking machinima but of course also of networking and social media.
People are impressed and intrigued, not just with our 1920s Berlin sim but also with Second Life still being around and looking this good.


It also shows why it is so important to try and offer as many users as possible a visually pleasing experience when visiting Second Life.
Right now a minority get to experience our virtual world the way it looks in this video.
Having graphics set to ultra and shadows on is something many computers can’t handle.
That is why I hope Sansar will be able to do that for more users or that LL will at least offer a streaming service.

About a year ago, I wrote an article called ‘Music videos shot in Second Life and why we need more of them.’ and in it I mentioned a video by Pepa Cometa as a good example of what is possible.
I’m so glad she choose to accept my invitation to come to Berlin and make this wonderful video.

Let’s hope many more videos like this one are made, they allow us to show the world that SL CAN look good and is about more than just shopping and hanky panky.

Go on, have another look;



Grandfathered rates, looking a gift horse in the mouth.


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A few days ago Linden Lab announced that they were going to offer land owners the chance to buy the ‘grandfathered rate’, pay $600 once to get a permanent $100 discount on your tier.

You can read about it by clicking here.

Now this offer has received both positive as negative criticism, as with everything LL says or does.
It is too complicated to go into details but some say that you can’t lose because after 6 months this investment starts paying for itself, while others say it is a desperate attempt of LL to get some quick cash out of us before everyone leaves for Sansar or another virtual world and that by the time you earn this investment back, SL will have emptied.
Some people also say that this once more damages the business of some land lords, which is of course true as they need to lower their rates because more people will get grandfathered regions and will thus offer land for lower rent.
Then again, I always assumed that as a landlord people stay with you not just because your rent is low but also because your sims are nice, the community is wonderful and you are just a wonderful landlord!

Anyway, for me personally, this is a good deal.
I am pretty sure that 1920s Berlin is still here in a year time even if Project Sansar has gone public and allows me to build 1920s Berlin there with all the options I now have in SL.
Something which will not happen that soon.
So all I have to do is spend $600 and voila, my tier goes down.
It will  not make me rich, with VAT and all the time I spend working on my sim, I’d still make more flipping burgers, but every penny counts.

But $600 is a lot of money.

So although I am an old fashioned lady who is petrified of being considered rude, I am going against etiquette and look this gift horse in the mouth.
Sorry Linden Lab.

I can see two ways to make this offer even better and even more attractive for a lot of people.

1.Give every estate or group or community, that has managed to survive in Second Life for longer than 5 years the option to grandfather their regions for free or much cheaper than $600.
Making a sim work and keeping it going for such a long time is quite an achievement.
Places who manage this clearly bring new people to SL or keep users from leaving, they are good (free) publicity for LL to promote SL with, in short; they are doing something right and this directly or indirectly is good for Second Life.
Allowing them to grandfather their community land will give them a huge boost.
At the end of the month more money is left behind for those who run the place and/or more money can be put back into it.
Some sims that are not run just for profit sometimes find it hard to get tier together every month and this grandfathered status will take a load of their backs.
In short; it will help and reward sims that are doing something right.
And yes, I am totally thinking about my own sims and my own pockets as well.
Lower tier will mean I can spend even more time running Berlin but it will also make it easier to pay for my next project; 1940s London.
And what will this do to relatively new sims?
They know that if they manage to hold on one more year, or 2 or 3, their tier will go down.
Of course some complicated decisions have to be made, after all a sim or group or community can be doing very well for over 6 years but due to landlord trouble or other reasons be forced to abandon one region and start over again in another region.
But you get the idea.

2.As I mentioned before, $600 is a lot of money to most people.
And even if you have lots of dosh and you have a nice Second Life related income, it still is quite an investment to spend if you own more than a few regions.
And if you make money in SL, chances are you own more than one region.
One of the reasons people are deciding not to grandfather right now is simply because they do not have that money available to them at this moment.
So I’d like to suggest allowing us to pay in instalments.
Hear me out.
You can sign up for the grandfathered deal now but in stead of paying LL $600 on the spot, you get your lowered tier right away but… LL adds $100 a month to your tier as payment for the grandfathered status.
Between now and 6 months LL has my $600 and I get my lower tier.
So the end result is the same except that more people will decide to take the deal!

When people have to pay the entire amount at once, they either decide not take the deal or they save up money for the next couple of months and pay when they have it.
If LL implements my suggestion I think more people will accept the deal, more sims end up with lower grandfathered tier, more communities survive longer, the economy gets a boost, everybody happy.
And yes, once more I am mostly just looking at my situation.
I will have to save $100 a month for half a year before I can afford this deal.
I’d rather just keep paying the regular high tier and then get lower tier in 6 months.

Besides, we need a little break because we have to go buy new computers and VR headsets soon.

Maxwell Graf contacted me about this earlier and had the same sort of idea, so I’m sharing his post below.

Let us know what you think!

Maxwell Graf;

The ability to “opt-in” to the new tier rates program is a no-brainer, and a welcome change. Why would I say no to lowering my monthly costs, especially considering the state of both the SL and RL economies? It has been talked about since I have been in SL. It is a great incentive and a smart move by LL. I would have done it already, if not for the unfortunate lack of 600$ in expendable income, even if that would benefit my business in the long run. This is a problem which needs to be addressed.

What I am asking for is a way to say yes I want to opt-in to the new program, LL start taking 100$ from my 295$ a month tier for six months, and then lower my rate in six months to the grandfathered tier rate. Without this option, I have no way to do this. Without this option, the benefit to me as a customer who needs a break does not happen.

Dear Lab: I do not mind waiting for six more months of full price to get the lower price. I have been paying for full sims since 2008 and will continue to do so. Give me a break if you want to give me a break, and I will stay and love you for it, but don’t tell me “We would like to offer you this discount because you supported us as a loyal customer, we know times are hard and we want you to stay. Pay us 600$ to do so.”

If I made enough in SL to have an extra six hundred dollars laying around I would most likely not worry about a 100$ a month break on my tier. A lot of us are fighting to stay in SL and keep going but this is similar in some ways to a tax break for the rich. When you offer a discount to only those who can afford it, what are you saying to those who cant is not only in direct opposition to your long term goal or ours but has a negative impact on your customer relations and we both lose the very benefits you are trying to provide. It goes a solid half-way to appreciating the 10 years of my reliable support of your business.

Click here to visit Maxwell Graf’s website.


Linden Lab lowers tier… but…



Linden Lab has just announced that it is lowering the tier by $30 a month for homesteads and $100 a month for full regions… but…

Yes there is a but.

In stead of lowering the general tier they are offering you the chance to “buy down” your region and/or homestead of a one time fee of $600 and thus turn it into a ‘grandfathered’ sim.
So you’ll get a discount but you have to buy the right to get this discount.

First things first, it is great that LL keeps hammering away at the tier, they know it is too high and are clearly looking into ways of lowering it as much as they can.
Which must be scary and difficult as it is of course their main source of income and they need every penny they get to not just pay for the electricity and virtual schnaps bill, but also for the development of Project Sansar.
Last November they already lowered the set-up fees by 40% so they are on the right path.

Having said that, $600 is a lot of money.

Grandfathered regions have a lower tier level because back when LL raised tier in 2010 they allowed people who already owned land at that time to continue paying the original lower fee.
Which makes sense because if you suddenly raise rent you risk people running away.

You have to make this decision before October 4th, so you have some time to save up money to pay for this but it will also take at least half a year before you earn your investment back in tier discount.

This offer comes at an interesting time because by the time it ends, Sansar will have opened to a lot more beta testers and if all goes well, we’ll be months away from it opening to the main public.
Who knows how things are going in SL by then?

So, if you own a full region you pay LL $600 and they will switch your land to grandfathered tier, which is $195 a month in stead of the regular $295 a month.

If you own a homestead you pay LL $180 and they will switch your land to grandfathered tier, which is $95 a month in stead of the regular $125 a month.

A good deal and another step in the right direction, but still, $600 is a lot of money.
Wouldn’t it be nice if we could say… pay it in 6 instalments of $100?
That way you’d just keep paying regular tier for 6 months and then you get the discount.
Luckily the offer stands for the next 6 months so if you save $100 of your Lindens every month, you’ll be able to get one without making the investment in one big payment.

Lets hope this is another step on the way to more discounts and even lower tier.

You can read the full story on the Second Life website by clicking here.

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Private Estate Survey by Tyche Shepherd


Tyche Shepherd (SL Grid Survey) published a Private Estate survey on the SL Universe forum.
I’m a sucker for facts and figures, so with permission, I share the publication here;

Well it’s been a while since my last Private Estate Survey run back in November 2013 which you can find in this same thread here New SL Sims in past week

So here is the March 2016 Private Estate Survey , these results are based on a sample of 5000 randomly selected private estate regions designed to estimate Full/Homestead/Openspace penetration.

Summary: Overall distribution of Region types is very much unchanged from Nov 2013. Ownership however is much more concentrated with a larger proportion of the grid being owned by the top estates. Tier is still healthy at just under US$3.4M for the month

The key results are as follows:

  • Full Regions : 2266
  • Homestead Regions: 1921
  • Openspace: 21
  • Closed to Public :792

Of the 4208 accessible regions , 53.9% are Full Regions, 45.6% are Homesteads and 0.5% are Openspaces. The Margins of Error are +/-1.28% , +/- 1.28% and +/-0.18% respectively for the three figures figure at the 95% confidence level. Full Regions and Homesteads have gained 0.1% each in share since July with Openspaces losing 0.2% . So in 2 and a bit years very little change in distribution of region types.

During this period Private estates had a net loss of 1875 Regions to a total of 17549 representing an overall decline of 10.7% since Nov 2013 . The proportion closed to public access was significantly up from 12.0% to 15.8%.

2 of the Full Regions were Linden Developed Regions (i.e. sold new with content) were included in the sample this time, but no Developed Homestead was sampled. Again as with all previous surveys this is too small penetration to estimate total number. 32 of the sampled full regions were Skill Gaming designated ones (1.7% of Private Estate Regions).

284 of the 1921 (14.68%) Homestead regions were at the new non-grandfathered rate, this is down on on Nov 2013 figure of 17.6% .

Taking these figures a good estimate of private estate tier due each month is US$3,385,000 +/- US$43,000 . (Calculated using known grandfathering rates but excludes any academic reductions and is rounded to the closest US$1000), this figure is significantly down on Nov 2013’s estimate of US$3,857,000 by $472,000 (down by 12%).

The top 20 landowners currently control 49.1% (+/- 1.3%) of private estate regions, This is significantly up on Nov 2013 (39.5%) , using list prices their holdings account for 40.6% of total private estate tier (Nov 2013 was 30.5%)

The figures for the top 10 landowners are 36.4% (+/- 1.2%) of regions and 29.5% of tier (the larger estates tend to have a bigger proportion of homesteads than smaller estates). This share for the top 10 is signifcantly up on Nov 2013’s figure of 28.9% of private estate regions.

The Top 10 Full Region/Homestead/Openspace proportions are 37.1%/62.8%/0.1% and 38.6%/61.3%/0.0% for the top 20

The Top 20 Estates by number of regions held are as follows:

  • Dreamseeker Estates 6.1%
  • Azure Islands (ACS) 5.1%
  • Richmond Land Management 4.9%
  • Zoha Islands 4.7%
  • Jessica Chung (ACS) 3.3%
  • Weezles Real Estate (WRE) 2.8%
  • Surreal Chung (ACS) 2.6%
  • Victoria Chung (ACS) 2.6%
  • Miriam Chung (ACS) 2.3%
  • Lorena Chung (ACS) 2.0%
  • Blanxi Estates 2.0%
  • Lala Rentals 1.5%
  • Jewels Island 1.4%
  • Fruit Islands Estate 1.4%
  • Bell Estates 1.2%
  • Lombardi Holdings 1.2%
  • Heidi Chung (ACS) 1.0%
  • Kendallwood Virtual Estates 1.0% tied for 18th place with …
  • Serena Estates 1.0%
  • Luxory Estates 1.0%

Total known ACS holdings come to 19.1%. (13.8% in Nov 2013)

The Margins of error for these Estate shares range from +/-0.6% for the largest down to +/- 0.2% for the smallest so some of the ranking especially between 11th and 20th place may be slightly off. These rankings are purely on number of regions owned and are not based on FRE numbers .

The regions were running on the following distribution of server class

  • Unknown 0.05%
  • Class 701 46.15%
  • Class 801 53.78%
  • Class 830 0.02%

Survey Details: This survey was based on a random sample of 5000 private estate regions drawn from all 17524 private estates on the grid on 25th March 2014. The actual surveying took place between 25th & 26th March 2016. A further 17 regions were randomly selected to top up the sample, replacing regions which were unavailable (other than closed to public access) at the time of surveying.

Tyche Shepherd (SL Grid Survey).

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