Hugsies Blog!

January 21, 2009

Do your web shopping in world!

Filed under: Uncategorized — Tags: , , , — Hugsie @ 2:45 am

I recently found this story (and linden blog post and Press Announcement) that Linden Labs has acquired two off-site SL-commerce sites where you can purchase in-game items (technically) offline. You can simply browse items online and click to buy and then they will appear in your inventory.  The two companies in question are Xstreet (Formerly SLxchange) and OnRez. The plan is to integrate these services directly into Second Life it self, no longer using a 3rd party service.  My initial guess is better security so you don’t have separate logins at these 3rd party sites that may have some indirect access to your second life avatar account.  But all of this sounds fine and dandy, but this is something they should have done 6 years ago, and There.com has been doing it since day one.

There.com world is intricately linked with the production web server. It’s the only way to really do much of anything inside the world of There.com besides doing micro transaction buying a tshirt.  It was also how you set up events, created documents (not just plain text notecards), teleported around the open world, view profiles, etc, etc. It was the use of a stripped down web browser (IE actually) which is something the SL View has recently has added in the past year (striped down mozila). There really was no real need to buy land and set up a massive mall and rent out plots to vendors like we do in Second Life. And only to realize you barely make any money doing so. There.com simply did it with eBay like auction service.

All items bought and sold in there.com can be traded, given away, or put it up in auctions sold to the highest bidder, or sold as a buy-now. Developers had special access to the auctions to sell limited new copies of their products as buy-now auctions listings.  They didn’t have to build vendos and rent a space in some mall (of a bazillion other malls in SL) and drop the vendo there.  There.com didn’t have any stupid DRM-style (no transfer) restrictions with some possible exceptions with employee made special gifts.

Furthermore you are able to TRY OUT any item in auctions and use it in-game to see if you really want to buy it or not, and the item last about 2 minutes.  Rather than going on gut feelings when you buy something in SL, or spend 1L on a DEMO that you can’t even edit/adjust (cluttering up your inventory) to see if it suits you or not. Plus there.com has a “Secure trade” window, so when you want to trade or sell with someone directly you open a window that shows exactly what you’re getting from the other person with two levels of acknowledgment before the trade occurs. This avoids someone just ripping you off after you hand over someone money in hopes that person will give you something back.

This explains why in the past year SL viewer has integrated a web browser into the viewer, and has overhauled it’s search engine, which I found not to be much useful.  I still use the old ‘People’ or ‘Places’ tabs when searching for specific things.  Using the global search would give you links to crap you don’t need like people’s profiles or group pages that happen to mention the word you used to search that.  Plus many places will fill the description with random word that aren’t directly related to the place so they appear in search (meta tag whores).

I’m glad that after 6 years they finally got something in place to do something that There.com has already been doing for 6 years.  But then again it took there.com about FIVE years (and two different management changes) to get a hugging emote in game.  But there.com’s auction system is still a horrible mess to sort though.  It’s inventory setup is a fucking nightmare.

Another thing to point out is that sites like Xstreet allow basic members (with no payment info on file) to buy and sell L$ and bypass LindeX. I see nothing wrong with this in and of it self, but if Xstreet gets absorbed into Second Life, then this L$ market will disappear.  According to the market rates at Xstreet, you’ll get a better deal buying L$ than you would from LindeX.  Transversely you’re better off selling L$ at LindeX, than at Xstreet.  But this doesn’t take into account what percentage cut is taken (if any) for transactions, nor any other fees relating to transferring money to and from paypal, from credit cards, and bank accounts.

So is this a move by Linden Labs to create a more convenient and secure way to purchase in-world items, or are they killing off another L$ exchange market to establish a monopoly?  About four years ago there was website (sorry I can’t remember the name of it) that dealt with all forms of online currency allowing you to basically swap out your Linden$ for ThereBucks, or WoW gold, or about a dozen other kinds of MMO currency. Problem was a lot a fraud occurred using Paypal, and only Linden Labs would backup and support issues that arose. Other MMOs just didn’t care, or didn’t have the resources to deal with more fraud than they already had in-house.  So for a good while they only traded with L$.  Soon there was a lot of talk about Linden Labs and this exchange site merging up and establishing an in-world trading market for L$. But Linden Labs pulled the rug out from under them, the site soon closed down, and soon after that LindeX was established.  Bit of a stab in the back wasn’t it?

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