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Mar 24, 2007

Comments

1.

Sweet, savvy marketing (or performance art... who cares?) from Coldwell. Real estate marketing is generally about 15-20 years behind retail marketing and, even when it catches up, is often much less sophisticated in the execution. It's right up there with law firm marketing in terms of "not getting it."

My guess is that the internal documentation for this program at Coldwell indicates that the SL program exists mainly to generate leads for RL real estate customers, and that this is meant to be a "sales forward" event or a "touch point" or whatever they want to call it in their sales program. Which makes perfect sense.

If you can get your avatar in front of somebody in SL, make a personal connection, find out what they like/don't like in terms of houses, furniture, fun, kids, pets, hobbies, etc... that's a lot of good info for establishing a customer/agent bond. Help 'em have a good experience with the strange/wacky world of virtual real estate, and... who knows? Maybe they'll come back to you for the much scarier, much bigger-deal transaction of a real life home. Or maybe they'll pass along the name/email of a friend who's going through that process. Real networking in virtual worlds.

It will only backfire if they do a half-assed job of it, because then you're opinion of your Coldwell VR-RE rep will be, "Oh yeah, that guy who left me confused and ill-at-ease in SL." But the press release at least makes it sound like they're doing some fun and different stuff. If they can get you into a neat SL house, take you for a ride in a helicopter, provide some ongoing service (that will be the big deal-i-o) and -- most important -- get folks over the initial, steep learning curve into SL land ownership/enjoyment... all with a goal of having future Coldwell fans... good for them. Nice way to leverage a real world brand and competency to achieve some results in SL.

On the other hand, if they don't put in the time and effort to actually make people satisfied with their SL purchases... well, we know what happens when your real estate agent in real life doesn't return your calls or calls you by the wrong first-name a few times... Virtual boobery is just as damaging to real world rep as the real world variety.

Frisson indeed.

2.

Just out of interest, have you seen the Herald article about them employing land shysters to do their business for them in SL? That would strike me as a mistake.

3.

>> what kind of deal it has with Linden Labs (presumably there is some contractual arrangement)

uh, considering that no company needs to "do a deal" with Linden in order to open up shop (and my sense is that few, if any, have) it's probably more accurate to assume there's no contractual arrangement between Coldwell and Linden Lab.

4.

*Real* real estate transactions are fair, reasonable and not at all unsavory? Would that be the fairness of the MLS cartel, the misalignment of incentives, or the lack of fiduciary obligation by brokers or agents part?

Though, maybe I'll set up shop peddling sub-prime, no-doc L$ virtual home equity loans so people can afford their virtual dream houses. Then all we have to do is figure out a way to unload the securitized debt obligations on everyone else in Second Life and we can share the meat-space joy featured in this week's Economist in our virtual lives too.

5.

So, what's the fuss all about ?! What are the news here ?! Just another two more scamers ; i remember of that guy," Neverlie " or something , about wich recently the gamehouse publically and officially admitted that he's their employee ....or co-owner of the company, whatever.Shares-holder, i dont know how they name it in Sweden. Just hype PR . Lurking for suckers.Nothing really new or interresting.

6.

Geez. Someone finally takes the real estate market into Second Life and the execution is crappy? I feel sick.

The last time I demo'd Second Life, I was in a class learning to use VRML/X3D to model a condo for placement on a website. Come on. There's reason to do this, especially in Second Life.

It's not that hard to get it right! Hire ESC, give them your floorplans, buy some land, tell them to make it, have open houses. Why aren't they doing it? =(

7.

I've written two stories about this for the SL Herald:

Sign-Extortionist Masons Help Coldwell Banker into Second Life
http://www.secondlifeherald.com/slh/2007/03/signextortionis.html

"No Deal With CB," Sez LL; Purple Land's "A Bug"
http://www.secondlifeherald.com/slh/2007/03/no_deal_with_cb.html#more

What's appalling to me about the entrance of this RL company into SL is that they've chosen two of the most notorious inworld "microbarons," unscrupulous land barons who chop up and uglify sims and place spinning, ugly ad signs on them, often putting the land to sale at outrageous prices to extort a "buy back of the view" from distraught owners who own the bulk of the sims where these sign-griefers don't live or work.

It's one of the banes of the mainland existence that these characters can suddenly swoop in and blight up a prime waterfront or mountainside with these ridiculous signs, "Mr. Lee's Hong Kong" -- the concept taken from Snowcrash.

What makes it even more wierd -- so very SL -- is that these avatars describe themselves as Masons (conspiracies, anyone lol?), who have founded "SL Masonic Lodge No. 1," they put goofy symbols on their stuff, and they are also rabid anarcho-capitalists, obsessing about Snowcrash --and getting involved in most big finance in SL, like the stock markets.

I'm not sure how CB came across them -- I know that the group has been prototyping stuff for months. They're hugely aggressive about what they do, and refuse to mitigate the signs -- what's again "so very SL" is that they've even planted them on CB's prime waterfront.

Naturally not just the Herald but the forums were rife with speculation about what kind of deal LL put together for them. LL's CFO John Zdanowski claimed to me in response to an email that there was "no contact.zilch.nada" between LL and CB, and they got no special tier break. Savvy land dealers really doubted this, because of the presence in the CB holdings of purple auction land, which, by the normal laws of SL land mechanisms, can only be owned by Governor Linden. Normally it turns red after a successful auction bid, but these sims remained purple and with auction ID numbers, yet showing these inworld land baron's own land group as owner -- a complete oddity on the SL landscape -- which fueled even more speculation that they got free auctions or a tier break. LL says not.

The fact is, John Zdanowski, LL CFO, worked at House Values, the online real estate house valuation company, before he came to LL. And last year, David Fleck, former VP of LL, was at a RL realtors conference in SF and spoke about what addictive real estate games could teach RL real estate companies -- a conference at which CB's COO was also present. Of course, LL pitches SL all over the place, but they don't view their conference-circuit pitching as any sort of special deal-making and they say they don't give any different prices to big business.

What's annoying about their plausible deniability is that for years, LL groomed these metaversal sherpas, the development companies like ESC and Aimee Weber Studios -- who are on the inside track to get early notices of features and influence their prioritization. They didn't groom Shriver and Fassbinder in the same way, but they gave them a huge pass to their sign griefing, refusing to take action despite enormous community resentment of the devaluation of land and extortion implied in this slash-and-burn "I get to do WTF I want on my land" mentality upheld by LL as part of their sanctifying of creativity at any cost.

I don't know why CB chose these characters; it may be ignorance, like so many companies into SL, or it may be sinister, based on an ideological affiliation -- who knows.

What eggheads need to realize is that this isn't about selling RL houses for half a million dollars in dinky little prototypes. Hell, no. That's perhaps what somebody puts on an activity report, but it's unlikely to gel.

It's really more about setting up systems for mass accommodation of residents in the new Metaverse where we are all going to be spending more and more of our time, and where corporations are making signifcant inroads.

What Shriver and Fassbinder have created is an avatar-key-reader, CB calls it a "palm print" which they read against an extensive database of land-owners and newbies they've already created. They've been scraping data for years, and they'll be able to filter and strain anyone they don't like out of the New World CB is helping to create.

They are creating more complicated financing structures too, taking a 60-day deposit for new homes that cost $20 US, a huge price for the average newbie in SL (not sure if they provide the initial land for free). They will be able to track people and control them thoroughly and find out a lot about their purchasing patterns, etc.

It's the Brave New World of Marketing that really takes over what people had previously though of something more intimate, their avatar, their friends, their purchased or rented home in SL. It's like the old company town in the US in the 1930s, only even more sinister. If it gets people freedom from griefing, just as in any old story about authoritarianism, they may be willing to give up some privacy and freedoms in exchange for it.

8.

The proof of the pudding is in the eating, I guess. If this firm can't provide a better inworld service than existing land-dealers, home-builders, island landlords, etc then, well, they got some column inches at least.

I'm quite happy with the concept of virtual ownership. Living in the UK, I'm aware that there is only one "landowner" in the country, after all. I could mention also that Scottish money isn't legal tender but they get on fine with that too, but I think people generally would prefer to imagine L$ staying in the realm of monopoly money.

9.

I'm pretty certain that Scottish money is legal tender, Ace.

10.

Thanks to everyone for the comments.

The Kool-Aid effect has certainly worn off -- I think I'll need to be convinced by Coldwell Banker that any part of this venture is bona fide. I'll check back into the offices later this week -- if anyone else can locate an actual Coldwell Banker virtual staffer (the Fortune article says they're real) please post in these comments.

W/r/t the absent agents, I just realized that if these home are selling for the equivalent of $20 USD, a 6% agent commission (assuming it isn't split with the seller's agent) would work out to $1.20. So if a Coldwell agent sold four homes an hour, they'd be working at a little under minimum wage. Probably not a strong incentive to show up for work! :-)

11.

There have been a lot of fumbled corporate entries into SL, but this one totally takes the cake. How CB got hooked up with two SL pariahs and "sign extortionists" is utterly beyond me.

And Greg, would it have killed you to do something more than recycle the CB press release when you reported this? If you Terra Novans are going to report on Second Life could you at least read something besides Fortune and Clay Shirky?

12.

Hi Peter -- Yes, I'm afraid it would have: "killed me to do something more than recycle the CB press release when I reported this." Thanks.

13.

Well in that case I'm glad you stopped when you did. We would have missed you!

14.

Rich said:
"I'm pretty certain that Scottish money is legal tender, Ace."

Nope, Scottish banknotes are not legal tender, even in Scotland. That is, if you owe me a couple of thousand quid, and turn up to court offering payment into court in crisp new Scottish tenners from HBOS, RBOS or the Clydesdale Bank, you would not be using "legal tender".

That said, since the end of the one pound note, English banknotes are not legal tender in Scotland, either. Only coins from the royal mint are (with various limits, so you can't try to pay off your 300 pound debt with 30,000 one-pence pieces).

Since Scots Law is so damn fine, however, we get around this by saying that a creditor must accept payment in any "reasonable" form. Conch shells are out, cheques are usually fine, English tenners are just dandy.

I suppose that was a derail.

15.

Peter -- glad to hear it! :-)

Endie -- Derail to your heart's content. I had no idea about the niceties of legal tender in Scotland, and it's interesting stuff.

Actually, derailing that derail -- I should clarify that while I welcome derails from the OP, I think some of the other authors here prefer things to stay on topic.

And, there's something there in response to Peter as well -- while "us Terra Novans" blog under a shared TN banner, we don't prescreen each other and we're quite diverse in what we think, what we post, how we respond to thread comments, etc.

So, e.g., when Cory posts something here about Second Life, he obviously has a much better understanding and a much different vantage than I do when I take a stab at grokking an "exclusive" Fortune story with a teaser stating: "Don't think the Second Life land rush is over. Now a huge real estate firm is entering the 3D virtual world, as the service's headlong growth continues, reports Fortune's David Kirkpatrick."

Anyway, back on the rails. I take it that:
1) Linden has disclaimed any involvement with CB's plans (accord hunter's comment and contra my initial assumption),
2) There actually *are* some CB agents staffing the building? Again, I'm curious to exactly who these people and how they're doing their job. If someone can pin one down and chat them up, that would be fun to hear about.

16.

From the original article:

Coldwell, which employs over 120,000 real-world sales agents in the United States and operates in a total of 45 countries, isn't in Second Life to make money, says Charlie Young, the company's senior vice president for marketing. "In the end this is about buying and selling homes in the real world," he says. "We're trying to figure out how to reach what we call the 'new consumer'." Executives insist that any profits will be reinvested in Second Life real estate.

So yes, their business plan is to make money on upsales of real-world property. This makes a certain kind of sense. I've been involved in a few real-world construction projects, and it's pretty much standard for architects to produce a virtual-reality model of the proposed building for the client's approval.

I can imagine two ways this could work:
- CB gets infomration on what kind of houses people really want, and can use this information to decide what to build. It's much cheaper to experiment in SL!
- CB builds a relationship with the customer, and sometimes upsells them a RL equivalent of their SL house.

I had a look around the CB estate in SL, and the architecture struck me as really uninspired. It's boring even by the standards of real-world housing, and in SL our expectations are higher because there aren't so many contraints. (Prims and land-area cost money, but a lot of the issues facing real-world architecture aren't a problem: air-con, structurally supporting the floor, keeping the rain out...)

17.

@Prokofy

All that doesn't sound any different from how real estate works in the real world.

Rather than fight it, why not short the Masons in the virtual stock market while starting your own virtual data services agency. Then you can come out with surprise numbers showing a dramatic decline in the number of new lots sold, even while prices stubbornly refuse to decline. If you want to play George Soros Hedge Fund Manager, accurately predict that LL will flood the market with L$ rather than see the internal economy deflate as precipitated by finally crashing virtual land prices, and lay your SLL/USD bets accordingly. Extra credit if you figure out a way to pull it all of with borrowed JPY.

18.

A further thought on how CB might use this: they could use the type of house I buy in SL to predict the kind of house I will buy in RL, and then email me with information about suitable properties as they become available. (Obviously, they'd need some additional information, such as real-world location and price range). I said above I thought most of their SL properties were uninspired: this information about me as a customer is probably useful to an estate agent (espcially if they know which ones I did like).

Amazon is pretty good at predicting what books people will buy, so it might be possible to do the same for houses. The main difficultly is building a big enough dataset (and people buy houses less often than they buy books).

19.

Susan

In a perfect world such would be possible. I have fairly in-depth knowledge of MLS data, and it has nowhere near the accuracy to produce such preference predictions. The problem isn't what MLS tracks, it's a garbage-in problem. Add to that the fact that the data is heavily gamed by those responsible for input and maintenance, and is fragmented by inconsistent participation.

I can believe CB thinks SL is a reasonable lead generation source. But bear in mind that even CB/Realogy is effectively a confederation of local agencies which are largely responsible for handling their own local marketing and lead generation. It is highly unlikely that agents, which are most often contractors, would value these leads; just like they ignore most of the other NRT pushdown.

The campaign might be effective as a national advertising campaign (though not nearly as effective as the viral treatment this received -- C21 is also Realogy) experienced.

This too is far ahead of the curve for the integrated REs to get anything more than brand building value out of the project. Add to that Realogy is about to be LOB'd by Apollo, and it's doubtful they're planning on any adventurous virtual-reality-integration projects in the near future. They'll just wait for an upstart to do it, and buy that company. I'd say that anyone who could figure out a practical, reasonable cost of investment way in which local offices could make virtual-tours-like offerings translated into SL with even moderate accuracy would be sitting on an automatic competitive acquisition offering.

20.

According to this blog entry, there are some real agents, sales are limited to newbs, and the virtual office kicked off today due to an "unfortunate error," but there's a waiting list one needs to get on.

It will be interesting to keep tabs on this and see where it goes.

21.

Ugh, I hereby vow to avoid blogging about Second Life at all costs. The more we blog about it, the more people will believe it's the most popular game out there, or even that it's actually even popular in a positive way (meaning, excluding the furries and sex fiends).

Second Life, for me, is the ultimate example about why we should never let users do everything they want to do, else it will almost invariably devolve into a haven for strange fetishes and behaviors that aren't generally acceptable in the real world... and for a reason.

22.

@Greglas - thanks for posting a link to my post, "Age Discrimination In Second Life".

@All - I've dropped by the Coldwell Banker HQ a number of times now and it has always been staffed by Coldwell SL employees. And while I wasn't able to buy a home because I've been a Second Life resident for more than 120 days, the Coldwell staff were really helpful in explaining the concept and directing me to other resources where I'd be able to rent or buy property.

The concept is pretty novel - but I appreciate what they are trying to do: demystify the real estate purchase process in SL for first-time or new residents. If they do a good job, Coldwell will reap the benefits of goodwill and perhaps even earn top-of-mind status for some SL citizens when they decide to make a home purchase offline.

But if any financial services firm has caught my interest in Second Life, it's ING. They launched Virtual Holland in SL last week. I took quick tour of their property and you can read about see pitches in my "Dispatches From Virtual Holland" post.

ING's mission is simple: Engage, Experiment, and Explore. Who really knows what the potential of a corporate entity in SL is. ING is merely setting up a playground to collaborate with like-minded individuals.

23.

>-- if anyone else can locate an actual Coldwell Banker virtual staffer (the Fortune article says they're real

As noted in my pieces, the managers are Ancient Shriner and Chrischun Fassbinder. When you look them up, ask about their sign extortionism and griefing as well. Ancient will say his grief-signs aren't set to sale; but point out they blight and devalue other people's land, including rentals and owner properties both, driving tenants and owners to islands -- and now, presumably to these characters.

Chrischun will say it's a legitimate business and he sells a lot of them. Yes...such is the fervent desire of people to buy back their view.

@ randolfe -- you frequently make blast-blogs like this in jargonistic language taken from the special terms and jargonistic words of your own field of phrase, and then people have nothing to say.

I can only say this: I don't want to start a virtual data base service, as I don't have, or wish to buy, programming skills.

I don't wish to play the stock market against these 2 who have expertise and have spent time gaming it -- I'd be a dilettante.

And you're probably wrong about first land declining. It's only on a growing trajectory.

They will run across a number of harsh problems -- the mainland is a brutal taskmaster:

o they can't fit more than 39 avatars -- only 15 really comfortably on a sim. How do they plan on renting/selling each parcel like that in those jam-packed developments?

o $20 is way, way over market. People pay $2 US, not $20 US for houses. This isn't going to change, even if you try to create a perception that people are buying a house not land.

o People actually do need realtors. I am inundated from morning til night with constant IMs. I could have doubled or tripled my customer base if I had the capital and the stamina and time to stick it out through the bad performance. I keep my operation relatively lean and medium-size because the troughs that come -- like 3 days when the game doesn't work AT ALL for me for no discernible reason, or 3 days of teleports not working on LL's end.

o People want tours to see land and how it lies; they want their own houses often, or the ability to modify your prefab. There's only a certain category of people who will move in without complaint to cookie-cutter developments.

24.

@Scott,

Hey, thanks -- I've dropped by 3 times now, but still haven't found anyone there. Perhaps they staff it 9-5 M-F? (Which is not when I'm likely to visit.)

I've been reading everywhere that the houses are too realistic and too tightly clustered. I'm sure architects would be a little perplexed at the offerings. There's no reason a $20 Second Life "home" should look much like a real home.

Were you given a reason for the 180 day rule? Age discrimination indeed! Of course, the FHA doesn't apply to age (much less virtual age) and who knows what jurisdiction we're in here. :-)

25.

@Garglas - the reason they gave was that to start, they want to target SL newbies (I'm paraphrasing) to demystify the process of purchasing/renting land in SL.

26.

Hi Prokofy,

Sorry if the bit of sarcasm was lost in the jargon. It just happens that online games and real estate are two of the three areas in which I spend most of my consulting and analysis time. I would add, however, that I think many -- or at least me -- are just as confounded by your obfuscatory SL insider syntax. It is, after all, the successful blending of many specialties that produce the best outcomes. My last post was responding to three big things intersecting: SL, real estate commerce, and IT. I was merely pointing out that real estate commerce has barely adapted to generalized IT, let alone the promise of home buyer preferences being captured, analyzed, forecast and directed towards the real estate sales function. Add "virtual" to that mix and we're basically asking for a leap forward from mopeds to moon-landers.

I don't know if virtual real estate agents are needed or not; I defer that to you and others. I do know that *real* real estate agents will have little use for the connection for some time yet to come. These are organizations which can improve efficiency and profitability merely by implementing relatively boring things like proper lead management or customer relationship management systems.

Or, take in a properly produced stage version of Glenngary Glenn Ross.

And you're probably wrong about first land declining. It's only on a growing trajectory.

This sounds like the "they're not making any more land" argument used in real real estate. If it's not true there, then it's certainly not true when land can be literally created at will. My position is that all virtual land is ultimately worth a value equal to its marginal cost to produce and provide plus the economic value of "search costs". Or in other words, virtual land will abide by the same economic rules as existing internet 1.0/2.0 "real estate". The value is what's created atop that land and how easy it is to find that land, not the land itself.

27.

Scott -- Thanks! (And I think you said that on your blog, I just didn't absorb it, I guess.)

28.

"Amarilla said:

So, what's the fuss all about ?! What are the news here ?! Just another two more scamers ; i remember of that guy," Neverlie " or something , about wich recently the gamehouse publically and officially admitted that he's their employee ....or co-owner of the company, whatever.Shares-holder, i dont know how they name it in Sweden. Just hype PR . Lurking for suckers.Nothing really new or interresting."

Neverdie, the company was Swedish MMO operator Mindark and the game is Entropia Universe. The drama was around his appearance at some convention as a player when it was found that he was employed by the company. In fact he was a unpaid representative. Mindark issues no stock.

29.

MindArk oficially posted on Market Wire : "...John "Neverdie" Jacobs , the owner of Club Neverdie ..." . And was not a drama but a scam.No matter how the Swede crocks use to " blure the lines " between truth and hype PR and false advertising, the practice is illegal in the US and immoral elswhere.Nobody can be the owner of a virtual item / virtual estate in your game but MindArk. But as i'v already said, no big fuss.

30.

@Prok and all:

Prok said: "$20 is way, way over market. People pay $2 US, not $20 US for houses..." and "People actually do need realtors... I could have doubled or tripled my customer base if I had the capital and the stamina and time to stick it out through the bad performance."

You've just contradicted yourself. You said, essentially, that people pay "X" and that you could have had doubled or tripled your customer base had you been willing to do more things in order to satisfy them, or been willing to plow more resources (time, energy, frustration, etc.) into the process.

Well, in order to do that, you need to be able to raise the price. Maybe not to $20... but maybe so. History has shown (Starbucks anyone?) that people will pay outrageous amounts of money for a branded experience over an equally good or even better "generic" one from a product/service standpoint. While what Coldwell is offering may (initially?) be sub-par from a SL sophisticate standpointe, the very fact that one is dealing with a "real company" in a (to many newbies) scary, funky, weird-o place, may be worth a 10X factor in price.

Mr. and Mrs. America say: I don't know nothin' about no sign-barrons and no Snow Crashings and no furbies. I just want to play and have some fun and do kinda like that Sims thang. Who can help me get started? Additional SL Weirdo X Dood I never heard of? Or Trust Branded Real Life Co.?

My guess is that someone who savvies SL pretty good already told the Coldwell gang, "Dudes. $20 for a house is waaaay high. You can get a house for like, a buck. And there are free houses out the wazoo. You gotta..."

At which point, Mr. Glengarry slapped the punk's mouth shut and replied, "Pipe down. If you think we're selling houses, or even virtual land, you're an idiot. We're selling the same thing anyone else is selling in Second Life. Time. Experience. Verbs. Actions. We don't *want* people who give a crap about the difference between $2 and $20. We want people who are looking for guidance. We are looking for people who are looking to be led. Becuase those are people who will be looking for the same verbs in RL. And those people will remember that we were helpful and kind and full of good tips related to something they were interested in. Anybody who cares most about $1 vs. $20 in SL isn't going to hire a real estate company, at least in the future of our pipeline model. Now shut up and get me a $6 Starbucks."

SL is (among other things) a communications and entertainment medium. Some companies are starting to get that. What Coldwell is doing is interactive brand advertising that happens to have some in-world similarities with actually "playing the game."

Next logical step: Buy a house from Coldwell and they'll throw in, for free, a virtual, SL house.

31.

What we are digesting here is´t news,it´s just another moth that has got curious about that blue flashy light and gone in to take a closer look.Coldwell have probably downsized their sales team to a dog after they realized there commission fees were not covering their broadband connection cost,due to SL 15% retainment of their accounts.
SL has one foot in the grave and companies like Coldwell and the others like them that are there and will join in the future are just going to add to land site graveyard like that movie "Escape from New York".
I would generally agree with Ryan Shwayder´s post ,but there is something so fascinating about watching moth´s frazzle on blue lights and trying to figure out why they do it.

@Amarilla--You are talking out of your rectum , if you go to Entropia´s homepage you will see they are selling five virtual banking licenses in auction I guess they will be part of your big conspiracy theory to.

32.

As a prefab home builder/seller in SL I can say that there is certainly enough demand in world for homes. I can't imagine my "market share" is especially large because my builds are pretty niche. What I do see is plenty of healthy, ongoing business selling them. Given that rental people can buy one/rez 10-20-100 (copy/no-transfer permissions if you understand the system), that means the amount of people actually *using* them, ie owning or renting virtual land to put their virtual furniture in, is pretty healthy.

If this firm can't fill a sim with residents, it's because they don't want to, or don't know how to (or don't care either way). The demand is definitely there.

33.

Woodsy, you're confusing the term " virtual ownership " with " ownership" .Gimme a breake, TN is well awared of MindArk's tricks.You also want us to confuse the Entropiauniverse site with MindArk's site. We are talking about MindArk and it's legal relationships with their players . Btw, it seems that my rectum is able to see the differences between " virtual " and real.I cannot say the same about your brains-supposedly you used any on your post. I suggest you to read MidArk's EULA and TOS. I hope this way you'll aknowledge who is the OWNER of all and any virtual item/virtual real estate in their game. Unless you can present us a MA official statement in this matter- but i strongly doubt you'll ever see any. And please do not transform the topic into a PR machine. Thank you for nothing.

34.

And Woodsy,we already knew that mentioning the word " conspiracy theory " linked to a post - no matter if there was any at all -, it's meant to discredit that post. There are more effective ways to do it these days , but to use the new " tools " one have first to learn how to actually understand them. The tools i mean. I mean, if you wanna discredit a post and to make the readers to approach that post with a pre-conception , you have to use words like " terrorist ", " jihad ", " nazi ", anti-jew " and such. I dont know how to deeper explain that you really need an update. I've heard that Google is accessible even from Sweden. Use it.

35.

@Amarilla your posts and retort´s are just a load of bitter fluff and have no place on this thread or my interest.

Ace said-
If this firm can't fill a sim with residents, it's because they don't want to, or don't know how to (or don't care either way). The demand is definitely there.

This is my point Ace ,why I am getting bored with SL and many other second lifer´s to.I dont care what deal they had with Linden Labs just so long as they have a creative purpose there that is generally felt by the players,and adding to the immersion of SL,instead of creating a media ghost town for them to advertise there brand name.
New comers to SL will ofcourse want to buy a house so that market will always stay healthy, keeping the player base healthy is more of an issue I believe.

36.

>Prok said: "$20 is way, way over market. People pay $2 US, not $20 US for houses..." and "People actually do need realtors... I could have doubled or tripled my customer base if I had the capital and the stamina and time to stick it out through the bad performance."

>You've just contradicted yourself. You said, essentially, that people pay "X" and that you could have had doubled or tripled your customer base had you been willing to do more things in order to satisfy them, or been willing to plow more resources (time, energy, frustration, etc.) into the process.

You're not understanding the points here.

People will not pay $20 US *for a house*. Just *the house itself*. They understand that in Second Life *the land* is what costs money *not the house*. They can't pay for BOTH land AND a house. That is, some will pay $100 US for a house and $150 US for an initial payment for land, and $25 after that, but most people will only buy the $2 US or the $5 US house, not the $20 US house.

My comment about "doing for" people is a comment about what people want more than anything in Second Life: somebody to hold their little avatar hands. And if you have the time to do that, you can then get more of them to rent. But...what they are willing to pay is not enough to sustain you at a living wage. That is, the more poor people are, the more they tend to traverse into Second Life looking for full immersion and a real-life similitude, and the more they imagine that you are there to play realtor as if it were real life, and you were getting some big commissions from a sale.

They'll be happy to keep you busy for hours rezzing one house after another and fussily saying what they don't like; they ask you with a keen sense of entitlement based on their immersion into a similitude of real-life to take them on tours, where they poke around and fussily ask questions for hours. When I first started my business, I endured that to get started and get a base of customers. But I soon discovered that the hours spent on this just didn't pay in any form, not even anything like a minimum wage. Because people want real-life similitude when they do the entitlement-happy freak-out on you, but they don't want real-life similitude when it requires them to be stable, find a job, make money, or keep paying money. I find that most people who make you jump through hoops to show you rentals and make you do custom adjustments out the wazoo will refund within 48 hours because they're out of play money and need to buy a skin. Or they quit SL and never come back. Or they find another rental on a sim that has a social set-up they want. Renting is a form of socializing and playing store. They enjoy looking at houses, playing in them, modifying them, decorating them, like playing dolls.

Then they want to put the toys away and do something else. So I find that I can't feed that dollhouse syndrome for them, and retain both my sanity and a real life with time for real life stuff. So what I long ago learned to do was to make these rentals as absolutely self-service, flexible, and free as I could possibly make it, so that people can indulge their fantasy for a day or 3 and then refund (most rentals in SL don't allow refunds), and that I have enough of a mixture of empty lots to take somebody's McMansion, but my own houses out too for them to just move into.

It's never enough, and people will absolutely wear you down.

We're very far afield from the theory of games here. I'm reading Synthetic Worlds now very carefully, and very dismayed at the lack of practical experience and relevant theory that Castronova is able to bring out of gaming that we can apply to the synthetic worlds that I thought he was writing about, too.

His answer to the problems of governance is to claim that customer service agents are never online, you never deal with them, and having them would be too costly.

Sure, in WoW, that might be the case. But it utterly obliterates the facts on the ground from Second Life, where the customer service people are heavily present (Lindens, mentors, volunteers) and where all of us in business have to have way more a presence than any WoW game god dude would have to have by the nature of the world.

The question is whether something like Coldwell Banker, then, can pay a $60,000 a year agent and put them in a virtual world and have them wait on customers all day -- which is what is required! -- and expect any ROI.

And how could they? The people in SL going into the CB boxes are going to play dollhouse or fantasy or whatever, and they will pick up their toys and then NOT go by a real life house. If they needed a real-life house...what would they be doing online in a synthetic house? So...what's the point of waiting on them playing dollhouse???

Seriously, people need to think about the sociology and anthropology and just sheer *economics* of all this.

And my answer is: companies that couldn't just if that kind of cost outly could justify harvesting the crowds online willing to work for short periods of time and for micropayments. And those who figure out how to harvest microtime and pay micropayments will have the semblance of a customer service world that Castronova denies can come into being, and then they will from there parlay that into some real-life return. It's going to take awhile getting it to work, but it's how they'll do it.


Well, in order to do that, you need to be able to raise the price. Maybe not to $20... but maybe so. History has shown (Starbucks anyone?) that people will pay outrageous amounts of money for a branded experience over an equally good or even better "generic" one from a product/service standpoint. While what Coldwell is offering may (initially?) be sub-par from a SL sophisticate standpointe, the very fact that one is dealing with a "real company" in a (to many newbies) scary, funky, weird-o place, may be worth a 10X factor in price.

Mr. and Mrs. America say: I don't know nothin' about no sign-barrons and no Snow Crashings and no furbies. I just want to play and have some fun and do kinda like that Sims thang. Who can help me get started? Additional SL Weirdo X Dood I never heard of? Or Trust Branded Real Life Co.?

My guess is that someone who savvies SL pretty good already told the Coldwell gang, "Dudes. $20 for a house is waaaay high. You can get a house for like, a buck. And there are free houses out the wazoo. You gotta..."

At which point, Mr. Glengarry slapped the punk's mouth shut and replied, "Pipe down. If you think we're selling houses, or even virtual land, you're an idiot. We're selling the same thing anyone else is selling in Second Life. Time. Experience. Verbs. Actions. We don't *want* people who give a crap about the difference between $2 and $20. We want people who are looking for guidance. We are looking for people who are looking to be led. Becuase those are people who will be looking for the same verbs in RL. And those people will remember that we were helpful and kind and full of good tips related to something they were interested in. Anybody who cares most about $1 vs. $20 in SL isn't going to hire a real estate company, at least in the future of our pipeline model. Now shut up and get me a $6 Starbucks."

SL is (among other things) a communications and entertainment medium. Some companies are starting to get that. What Coldwell is doing is interactive brand advertising that happens to have some in-world similarities with actually "playing the game."

Next logical step: Buy a house from Coldwell and they'll throw in, for free, a virtual, SL house.

37.

>Prok said: "$20 is way, way over market. People pay $2 US, not $20 US for houses..." and "People actually do need realtors... I could have doubled or tripled my customer base if I had the capital and the stamina and time to stick it out through the bad performance."

>You've just contradicted yourself. You said, essentially, that people pay "X" and that you could have had doubled or tripled your customer base had you been willing to do more things in order to satisfy them, or been willing to plow more resources (time, energy, frustration, etc.) into the process.

You're not understanding the points here.

People will not pay $20 US *for a house*. Just *the house itself*. They understand that in Second Life *the land* is what costs money *not the house*. They can't pay for BOTH land AND a house. That is, some will pay $100 US for a house and $150 US for an initial payment for land, and $25 after that, but most people will only buy the $2 US or the $5 US house, not the $20 US house.

My comment about "doing for" people is a comment about what people want more than anything in Second Life: somebody to hold their little avatar hands. And if you have the time to do that, you can then get more of them to rent. But...what they are willing to pay is not enough to sustain you at a living wage. That is, the more poor people are, the more they tend to traverse into Second Life looking for full immersion and a real-life similitude, and the more they imagine that you are there to play realtor as if it were real life, and you were getting some big commissions from a sale.

They'll be happy to keep you busy for hours rezzing one house after another and fussily saying what they don't like; they ask you with a keen sense of entitlement based on their immersion into a similitude of real-life to take them on tours, where they poke around and fussily ask questions for hours. When I first started my business, I endured that to get started and get a base of customers. But I soon discovered that the hours spent on this just didn't pay in any form, not even anything like a minimum wage. Because people want real-life similitude when they do the entitlement-happy freak-out on you, but they don't want real-life similitude when it requires them to be stable, find a job, make money, or keep paying money. I find that most people who make you jump through hoops to show you rentals and make you do custom adjustments out the wazoo will refund within 48 hours because they're out of play money and need to buy a skin. Or they quit SL and never come back. Or they find another rental on a sim that has a social set-up they want. Renting is a form of socializing and playing store. They enjoy looking at houses, playing in them, modifying them, decorating them, like playing dolls.

Then they want to put the toys away and do something else. So I find that I can't feed that dollhouse syndrome for them, and retain both my sanity and a real life with time for real life stuff. So what I long ago learned to do was to make these rentals as absolutely self-service, flexible, and free as I could possibly make it, so that people can indulge their fantasy for a day or 3 and then refund (most rentals in SL don't allow refunds), and that I have enough of a mixture of empty lots to take somebody's McMansion, but my own houses out too for them to just move into.

It's never enough, and people will absolutely wear you down.

We're very far afield from the theory of games here. I'm reading Synthetic Worlds now very carefully, and very dismayed at the lack of practical experience and relevant theory that Castronova is able to bring out of gaming that we can apply to the synthetic worlds that I thought he was writing about, too.

His answer to the problems of governance is to claim that customer service agents are never online, you never deal with them, and having them would be too costly.

Sure, in WoW, that might be the case. But it utterly obliterates the facts on the ground from Second Life, where the customer service people are heavily present (Lindens, mentors, volunteers) and where all of us in business have to have way more a presence than any WoW game god dude would have to have by the nature of the world.

The question is whether something like Coldwell Banker, then, can pay a $60,000 a year agent and put them in a virtual world and have them wait on customers all day -- which is what is required! -- and expect any ROI.

And how could they? The people in SL going into the CB boxes are going to play dollhouse or fantasy or whatever, and they will pick up their toys and then NOT go by a real life house. If they needed a real-life house...what would they be doing online in a synthetic house? So...what's the point of waiting on them playing dollhouse???

Seriously, people need to think about the sociology and anthropology and just sheer *economics* of all this.

And my answer is: companies that couldn't justify that kind of cost outlay *could* justify harvesting the crowds online willing to work for short periods of time and for micropayments. And those who figure out how to harvest microtime and pay micropayments will have the semblance of a customer service world that Castronova denies can come into being, and then they will from there parlay that into some real-life return. It's going to take awhile getting it to work, but it's how they'll do it.


Well, in order to do that, you need to be able to raise the price. Maybe not to $20... but maybe so. History has shown (Starbucks anyone?) that people will pay outrageous amounts of money for a branded experience over an equally good or even better "generic" one from a product/service standpoint. While what Coldwell is offering may (initially?) be sub-par from a SL sophisticate standpointe, the very fact that one is dealing with a "real company" in a (to many newbies) scary, funky, weird-o place, may be worth a 10X factor in price.

Mr. and Mrs. America say: I don't know nothin' about no sign-barrons and no Snow Crashings and no furbies. I just want to play and have some fun and do kinda like that Sims thang. Who can help me get started? Additional SL Weirdo X Dood I never heard of? Or Trust Branded Real Life Co.?

My guess is that someone who savvies SL pretty good already told the Coldwell gang, "Dudes. $20 for a house is waaaay high. You can get a house for like, a buck. And there are free houses out the wazoo. You gotta..."

At which point, Mr. Glengarry slapped the punk's mouth shut and replied, "Pipe down. If you think we're selling houses, or even virtual land, you're an idiot. We're selling the same thing anyone else is selling in Second Life. Time. Experience. Verbs. Actions. We don't *want* people who give a crap about the difference between $2 and $20. We want people who are looking for guidance. We are looking for people who are looking to be led. Becuase those are people who will be looking for the same verbs in RL. And those people will remember that we were helpful and kind and full of good tips related to something they were interested in. Anybody who cares most about $1 vs. $20 in SL isn't going to hire a real estate company, at least in the future of our pipeline model. Now shut up and get me a $6 Starbucks."

SL is (among other things) a communications and entertainment medium. Some companies are starting to get that. What Coldwell is doing is interactive brand advertising that happens to have some in-world similarities with actually "playing the game."

Next logical step: Buy a house from Coldwell and they'll throw in, for free, a virtual, SL house.

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