Is the Second Life economy faltering?

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

Merchants have been complaining about slow sales in Second Life ever since... well, ever since there have been sales. But I think for the first time we are seeing visible effects in the economic statistics.

Check out Tyche Shepherd's graph of Linden$ sales on the Lindex. This shows that Supply Linden has had a harder time selling L$ to people in Second Life who want to buy things.

The overall economy of Second Life is one of the money pumps Linden Lab uses to make money. In general, it works like this:

Merchants sell items → L$ accumulate in merchant accounts → Merchants and Supply Linden sell L$ on Lindex (with Linden Lab taking 3.5%) → Customers buy L$ on Lindex → Customers use L$ to buy items from merchants → Merchants sell items

As the L$ cycle through this loop, Linden Lab skims 3.5% off the top each time. Not that there's anything wrong with that; it's a perfectly legitimate way to make money off a virtual world.

Also note that's it's not a perfectly closed loop. Linden$ can leak out, when people spend them on things like classified ads and group fees, and also when people stop playing Second Life and leave with money still in their account. These sinks are balanced by Supply Linden, who manufactures Linden$ out of thin air and sells them on the Lindex, just like merchants do (except Supply Linden doesn't have to pay the 3.5% fee).

If any one part of this economic cycle breaks down, the whole loop falls apart. And then we get a situation like this.

This is from the Lindex Statistics on the Procyon Games site. It shows the amount of Linden$ that people are trying to sell. In a normally functioning market, the numbers of buyers and sellers are roughly equal. But recently, the sellers have swamped the buyers. Here we have over 200 million Linden$ asking to be sold at 250 L$/US$ or above. That's huge. It's normally between 50-70 million. It's never been this high, and it's been like this for days.

Supply Linden can only sell Linden$ if there are people willing to buy them. Without a steady stream of customers, that magical profit stream of Linden Lab just dries up.

It's possible there could be some other explanation for this glut of Linden$, and Supply Linden's withdrawal from the market. A couple years ago some big land baron left Second Life, and sold all their Linden$ on the market at once, creating a temporary glut. Supply Linden's sales dipped then, but they quickly recovered. This looks to be a sustained drop, so if there's another explanation I'd be happy to hear it. I hope T Linden's upcoming economic report sheds some light on this issue.

Can't Stop v1.05

Sunday, April 11, 2010

I've released version 1.05 of Can't Stop. This is a free upgrade to all registered owners. You can use your remote to deliver a copy of the new version to yourself ("/8 deliver game"), but this update also includes a new scoreboard and team signup prim, so I recommend you visit my shop and touch the Can't Stop vendor there to get a complete package.

What's new in this version:
  • NEW Mod-ok scoreboard. You can resize and retexture it.
  • NEW Team signup prim. Rez this near your game, and players can touch it to join your team. Team rankings are shown on the Procyon Games website.
  • NEW The Start, Settings, Help buttons hilite briefly when players sit down to play.
  • FIXED A security issue was fixed.
  • FIXED The game adjusts its position when you rez it. For some reason it liked to rez off the ground. It now moves down a smidge after it rezzes, which should set it flush with the ground.
  • FIXED It was really easy for the dice to get lost, since they're a separate piece. The game now rezzes the dice each time you play, and deletes them when the game is done. So if you move or take your table you don't have to worry about picking up the invisible dice any more.
  • FIXED To help players who have trouble distinguishing the different colors of the playing pieces, little symbols have been added (squares, circles, etc)
  • FIXED Often if you tried to rotate or adjust the game after you rezzed it, it would get confused and the board wouldn't line up properly. It now should adjust itself better, so you can rotate your game after you rez it if you want.
  • NEW You can enable an optional game rule (under "Settings"), called "No stacks" or "Can't Stop Can't Stop." When the rule is in play, players are not allowed to end their turn if any of their pieces are on top of someone else's. If you do move temporarily on top of someone, you must continue to roll until you move off (or zonk). This changes the game a bit, and some players prefer this rule.

Can't Stop Team Rankings

Sunday, April 4, 2010

I've added a Team Ranking page to the Can't Stop section of the Procyon Games web site: Can't Stop Team Rankings. Since the in-world boards don't have a Team Ranking setting, this is the only way to see how your team is doing, as far as Can't Stop goes. Note that players can only be on one team -- so, if you're in a particular team for En Garde, you're on the same team for Can't Stop, and your Can't Stop ranking is applied automatically. And vice-versa.