Blue Mars: An Opportunity to Grow Your Second Life Business
Since the open beta period for Blue Mars began I’ve noticed that some Second Life content creators have been dismissing it out-of-hand. Mostly they claimed that the tools for creating content in Blue Mars were too hard to learn. Many also said that they were not interested in providing content for Blue Mars, and some even inferred that without them to provide the content Blue Mars would wither and die. As I stated in my earlier article, Blue Mars – Being Different, Blue Mars will ultimately be able to draw on a wealth of content, possibly more than Second Life currently does. So if I were generating real world income by providing content in Second Life I would seriously consider taking the time to evaluate Blue Mars as a prospective new market. It makes good business sense, and I can tell you that there are hundreds, perhaps thousands out there, who are eagerly waiting for you to let this opportunity pass you by.
Let me state up front that Blue Mars may fail. It’s an uncomfortable truth that all the developers may be wasting their time, that Blue Mars may never reach the critical mass necessary for it to generate a return. But then again, at the other extreme Blue Mars may be the Microsoft or Google of virtual worlds and just as Microsoft and Google have, Blue Mars may have such a strategic advantage that it sweeps all its competitors – including Second Life – into insignificance.
What should you be looking for?
It’s too early to tell whether Blue Mars will mature into a viable market. It’s too new. There’s still so much important work to be completed. However, there are some elements that may be appealing to an SL entrepreneur wishing to expand. I don’t have any insider information but I expect in an attempt to woo both developers and residents into this new environment land prices are going to be very competitive. Maybe only a fraction of what the equivalent would be in Second Life. This means lower startup costs.
Also, being an early adopter means that the lines of communication to the developers of Blue Mars are likely to be more open. At this stage the community is small and if you have an issue you are more likely to be heard and have that issue enacted upon. This is especially important with regard to governance issues.
What difficulties may you face?
If you’ve only ever used the Second Life tools to develop with then you’ll need to learn a set of new skills. However, much of what you have learnt will still be relevant, only the application and name may be different. You also have a choice of tools – from the free like Google’s Sketchup to the professionally priced Maya. Now is the time to learn how to use those tools – when most of your competitors are on an equally footing and everyone is learning the system. Your consumers are more likely to forgive your mistakes in such an environment. If you are already using these multi-industry standard tools then you may have existing content that you can import directly into Blue Mars. This will save you time and perhaps money. Your upstart time could be slashed.
Unlike Second Life, most development happens outworld. If you’re used to having a social aspect when building then you may miss this. However, it is possible to supplement this need by using social networking tools like Twitter, Facebook or IM. Developing offline does have a distinct advantage in that you can always back your work up.
Probably the biggest difficulty you will face is that Blue Mars is not Second Life. Your expectations about what is possible and how things should be done are going to be skewed in favour of how you do them in Second Life. The best remedy for this is to keep an open mind. Blue Mars is a rapidly evolving platform and you’ll see improvements over the course of time.
What can you bring to Blue Mars?
Your brand is the most obvious. If you have an established brand that is beloved in Second Life then you have an opportunity to bring it into Blue Mars and expand its influence. You’ll already have an advantage over new developers because you’ll have an existing client base: your fellow SLers.
The other thing you can bring to Blue Mars is your knowledge about how to run a successful small business. Running a small business is hard. It doesn’t matter whether that business is in the real world or the virtual world. Workflow, marketing, customer service. Those hard-learnt lessons are just as applicable in Blue Mars as they are in Second Life.
You may believe that you can ignore Blue Mars until it evolves into an economically viable platform. This wait-and-see approach is giving a free-kick to your competitors. They’ll be able to learn the system, guide the development and develop a reputation that will make it harder to compete with when you do finally decide to make the transition. Now is the time for evaluation and even if you choose not to make the leap immediately it is important that you learn the skills that will help you compete in this new environment should you eventually utilise it.
Blue Mars is an exciting opportunity, but every business is different. Whether it is the right thing for your business will depend upon you and your desires. It is vitally important that you spend enough time to carefully evaluate it. Blue Mars will not be a viable option for every SL entrepreneur, but you should make that decision for yourself based on a solid analysis. Otherwise you may discover that not only have you missed a valuable opportunity but that your competitor has snapped it up.Tags: avatar-reality, blue mars, Business, content providers, Marketing, rant, Second Life