Blue Mars – Being Different
As some of you may know I’ve been spending a great deal of time in Blue Mars. I’ve been mainly providing video tutorials but I’ve also been keeping a close eye on forums and blogs that reference the new virtual world by Avatar Reality. One thing that keeps cropping up is the idea that Blue Mars will fail – or at least struggle – because it doesn’t cater to the Second Life demographic. This is a short-sighted view and fails to take into consideration what attracts people to virtual worlds. In fact, the way in which Blue Mars differentiates itself from Second Life may have a greater bearing on its success than any similarities.
From the figures released by Linden Lab, Second Life retains about 10% of the people that sign up. That’s a 90 day figure. What that means essentially is that of the people that sign-up for Second Life about 10% are still logging in 90 days later. Ten percent is not actually a bad figure as long as the numbers that are attracted and sign up remain high. However that still means that Second Life fails to meet the needs of nine people in every ten that sign up. That’s a sizable chunk. Those sorts of numbers are more than big enough to sustain an alternate virtual world if that world can offer something that Second Life doesn’t. There are lots of ways they can do that.
Many of the Second Lifers that complain about Blue Mars deride the lack of freely available content creation. Firstly, anyone can sign up to be a content developer. It’s simple and fully automated. I had my access and links to the SDK download within seconds. Having to sign up to develop also alieviates some of the security issues that Second Life faces with intellectual property theft. Secondly, content creation in Second Life is a kludge. You must be inworld to create many of the items which means that if you crash you can loose that content easily. The tools are also non-standard and difficult to master. Importing content from other applications is also difficult to impossible. I’ve seen some amazing work in Second Life and I’ve worked with and befriended many great artisans, but the Second Life content creation scheme is a major barrier to entry. Everything must be created from scratch specifically for Second Life. Blue Mars, and I must say as do several other 3d immersive virtual environments, offers a way to import your existing 3ds Max, Maya, Blender, etc content. That’s another sizable demographic that Second Life doesn’t cater to.
There are also other demographics that Second Life fails to provide for: anyone wishing to run a virtual event that caters to more than 100 avatars (Second Life’s upper limit) in a region/sim. People that are deterred by the red-light district reputation. Businesses that are put-off by the lack of security or by the uncertainty resulting from Linden Lab’s governance. There are lots of niches that a new or existing virtual world can tap into without being forced to attract users from Second Life.
That’s not to say that Blue Mars will cater to all or even any of these demographics. As I keep saying, it’s very early days. There’s a whole lot of potential there but there’s also an awful amount of work yet to be done. But by daring to be different Blue Mars can attract users without having to mirror Second Life.Tags: avatar-reality, blue mars, demographics, Marketing, rant, Second Life