Has Your InWorldz Peaked?

I am loving every moment of my IWz time. ¬†I’ve slowly added to my tier obligations, slowly growing my group, slowly adding inventory…well, it’s not always slow – it lurches up and down ūüôā ¬†…but, it’s very ..calculated.

Since I joined in November 2010, there’s been a tremendous excitement in IWz! ¬† The members are patient with the beta aspects…feeling like we’re getting in on the ground floor of a great thing..and that when the physics are added – look out, it’s going to GROW! ¬†But…just how big do we expect it to become? ¬†Average attendance in SL is 40-50,000. ¬† Is that what we expect? ¬†Or something more reasonable, like 1/4 of that? ¬†10,000 users IWz at once? ¬†ūüôā

It’s grown since I’ve been there. ¬†There were 650 regions when I joined…Now, mid-May 2011, there are 882. ¬†(Edited: ¬†January 21, 2012 there are 884)When I joined, the highest attendance I saw was around 150…that grew to exceed 200 – at peak times. ¬†Yet… I rarely see attendance over 200 any more…and those last 20-30 new regions took forever to appear.

Please know that I am not trying to report negatively about IWz!!! ¬†I adore it there and my little biz continues to exceed my expectations in so many ways! ¬†It’s just that in the past month, I’ve noticed a few changes – and I know I’m not alone. ¬†I think I’m writing now because I want to encourage people to be realistic about what IWz can do for you….and what we can do for IWz. ¬†I don’t think IWz has peaked…but I do think our expectations may have been steered off course.

One of the groups I belong to is Where Can I Find It.¬† It’s HUGE by IWz standards – over 1000 members – it’s not unusual for there to be 100 avis online at the same time there. ¬†In spite of the fact that I am not an enthusiast of group banter – I find this group to be a single resource for so many things. ¬†In addition to finding things and sharing my own creations…Viewing the activity in this sizeable group makes me feel like I’ve got my finger on the pulse of IWz! ¬†I can see ¬†what others are creating, prices, new businesses and clubs,what is being sought, trends, etc.

Until about a month ago, the Group Notices there were primarily promotions for new creations and upcoming events. ¬† Surely I’m not the only one to notice the shift of Notices going towards land rental and region sales. ¬†Recently, I read a Notice stating that unless a particular shop made enough sales that day, they were going to have to close their doors! ¬†ūüė¶

Land is SO much more affordable in IWz, and the abundant prims are¬†irresistible! ¬†If you ever had visions of being a landlord or even land mogul in Second Life… how could you not buy a sim (or 3 or 5 or 10) IWz? ¬†How easy to imagine it would be simple to make ends meet!

Yet I ask, is it wise to buy more land than you need? ¬†Why not add a sim when the others get full? ¬†It may be cheaper in IWz, but the supply and demand may not be the same. ¬†So much similarity between the worlds…but on a smaller scale.

It’s not just IWz that hopes to see growth…the other open sims, AviNation, OSgrid, 3rdRock, etc… they are hoping to lure users from SL too. ¬†I’ve read a ton of mud-slinging between the supporters/users of these groups – each claiming to be the best! ¬†From what I’ve been able to read, IWz is leading the way there…I’ve tried some of them too – obviously I’m enjoying IWz the most.

Amongst all the alternative grids, there’s a rampant bashing of Second Life. ¬†ūüôā It’s easy to hear horror tales, issues with Lindens, land, account issues, stalkers… my SL has had issues too. ¬† Many people have “sworn off” SL – claiming they will never return. ¬†Yet, I don’t think bashing the other grids is healthy for any of the grids.

I can understand having a preference, even giving up your old grid for a new one. ¬† But, there will always be many grids for people to consider. ¬†We’re still on the edge of virtual gaming…won’t there always be variations and offshoots?

I’ve begun to think of them as all related. ¬†I have friends in one world.. I have friends in the other. ¬†I have shops in one…shops in the other. ¬†I buy clothes in one – and the other. ¬†The goals are the same for me. ¬† It was MY attitude that was different in each world…but now – they’ve really melded together.

Has anyone else heard/read about a future with grids that are connected? ¬†One avi that can TP between grids, taking their Inventory with them…? ¬†As a merchant, I shudder at the thought of my items being whisked somewhere without my consent…yet, maybe the real answer isn’t about ME knowing about ALL the grids…but rather, a bigger picture. ¬†Making content that is universal, for all grids.

I use two texture websites that sell their textures via email Рand you pay according to the level of permission you want.  Just SL РSL & all other virtual grids РSL, all grids AND full creative use, anywhere.  This makes perfect sense to me, and works beautifully for my dual virtual lives!

I could imagine an online shop, like SLMarketplace, that supported all the grids. ¬†Items would be exchanged in the same manner we export/import linksets now…via XML files.

LOL…is that too far fetched? ¬†I don’t really think so….imagine…we could all experience all the grids – with such ease!

Meanwhile, I’m feeling bad for the folks that overextended themselves IWz. ¬†Having money worries is obviously bad…and a different type of bad feeling comes when you have to pull your tenderly created prims or say goodbye to that wonderful landscape you labored over.

Just like SL, the alternate grids have risks. ¬†Protect yourself! ¬†Be prepared for change! ¬†Don’t risk more than you can really afford. ¬†Personally, I acquire land or shop rental space only if I know I can have fun maintaining it all by myself. ¬†Yes, I aspire to earn enough to pay my rent – but, in my heart and mind….the whole virtual package is about having fun. ¬†It’s a hobby!! ¬† I’d like to think that if my renters left and I never sold another object…I’d still be having fun and my expenses would still be worthwhile.

My IWz is still more beautiful than anything in my SL.

Members of InWorldz… I caution us to not sound desperate! ¬†I’m a big advocate of advertising and promoting our works… but, really… excessive¬†and repetitive advertising isn’t going to fix anything. ¬†If there’s currently a lull with InWorldz growth – hammering the existing members with repetitive ads is frankly …annoying..and sad. ¬†I make a bi-weekly group Notice in the Where Can I Find It group. ¬†My Notice provides the url link to my blog – and via this WordPress blog, I can track how many readers I attract. ¬†The results are ALWAYS worthwhile. ¬†(My Transaction page also proves it!) ¬†However, of those thousand members, only a small portion of them are NEW members – the majority are the same core group. ¬†To keep the repeat reader interested, the information needs to be fresh!! ¬†Even your old items can be spotlighted in a new way, fresh description, new photos, suggestions for new uses, etc. ¬†(what a great way to improve & optimize our advertising marketing skills!) ¬†For Pete’s sake, double check your spelling and grammar while you’re at it!!

If we want IWz to grow – we must continue to make a great impression on the new users. ¬†This is something IWz already has a great reputation for!! ¬†EVERY article and interview I’ve seen has praised IWz for the warm welcome and helpful attitude. ¬†The Mentors are fabulous at helping people get started! ¬†The Founders are awesome at helping with account and land issues. ¬†There is a great sense of community there.

I’m a little worried that IWz members could lose some of this. ¬†Now, more than ever, we need to stay upbeat and positive! ¬†By no means am I suggesting you should stay longer than you want…just that, if we are there – and if we want it to keep growing – we’ve got to continue to show that warm and positive feeling. ¬† ¬†The attitude of IWz is one of its strongest selling points!

Are we staying true to the feelings and motivations that inspired us originally?

Just like in RL – during this tough economy, NOW MORE THAN EVER it is wise to invest in your product and continue (even expand) your advertising & promotional efforts. ¬†I know it’s hard to justify spending more when you’re earning less…but, it’s a proven advertising strategy in RL. (assuming you plan to stick with it for awhile!) ¬† Also, land barons beware… There’s a trap when you lower your rental prices too much…when the economy revives, it’s very difficult to raise your rents to your original price point.

2 readers of my blog roll have expressed confusion that some of my posts are about SL – others IWz. ¬†But..they’re not confused anymore! ¬†It’s been a great way to let my SL readers see how cool IWz is. ¬†Expose the various grids to each other! ¬†Do you have any way to share your IWz with folks in other worlds? ¬† ¬† My virtual time is rather¬†diligently¬†divided between SL and IWz – and while that’s not the best approach for everyone – I ask you to consider keeping your virtual doors open to all the worlds! ….open in both directions!

Honestly…I like the smallness of IWz. ¬†If it never grows another region, I’ll enjoy the creative opportunity it provides for me. ¬†It sparked a flame of creativity that has changed so many things for me in RL, SL, IWz!!

My wish is that all the InWorldz members enjoy their time there as much as I do! ¬†I encourage you to think about the things that brought you there originally. ¬†To recall the amazing things that Second Life has inspired and taught us, regarding virtual worlds. ¬†To think long and hard about your virtual goals and if the worlds you’re in can make them come true. ¬†Lastly, in the words of John F. Simmedy, to “Ask not what your grid can do for you, but what you can do for your grid.”