CENTRE FOR BUSINESS DEVELOPMENT
2013 BUSINESS SURVEY
In January 2013 the Centre for Business Development in Second Life ™ undertook a survey in order to find out what were the main issues facing residents who had businesses in Second Life ™ from their perspective.
The survey was posted on the CBD website for 10 days to allow residents to complete the survey online. There were 215 responses to the survey, providing us with sufficient qualitative information to identify common issues facing SL businesses.
This is a summary of the main results – only the top 4 – 5 responses are given where there were multiple choices.
How did you learn about SL?
32% Media (radio/tv/magazine)
21% Other internet sites or search engines
How long have you been in SL in total?
47% More than 5 years
18% 3 – 4 years
17% 4 – 5 years
9% 2 – 3 years
8% 1 – 2 years
What do you MAINLY use SL for?
Which of the following experiences reflects how you felt when you first joined SL?
“It was not easy to learn, but I found help” was the most common response.
As a cosumer in SL what do you mainly spend your money on for pleasure (not work)?
Respondents could tick more than one box for this question.
57% Clothes / shoes
34% Body items (skin, hair etc)
32% Furniture / garden
In the last six months have you upgraded your computer or bought a new one in order to run SL?
Do you know what pathfinding is?
Do you use pathfinding?
27% Didn’t answer
Name 3 things you like about SL
It was clear from the responses received that overwhelmingly residents enjoy Secondlife for:
- Meeting people from all over the world
- Socializing / friendship
- The opportunity to be creative in different ways – art, culture, photography, building, decorating, roleplaying, landscaping,
- Learning opportunities – classes, learning languages, learning new skills that have RL applications (learning photoshop/gimp, 3D modeling etc)
- Employment opportunities – earning a RL income, networking globally, bringing RL work into SL
- Romance – meeting their partners
- Live music
- Collaborating with others
- Social activities
- It is an “equalizer for the disabled”
- Able to help others
Name 3 things you don’t like about SL
There were multiple issues that were reported by respondents. I’ve categorized the reported issues into “main” (concerns repeatedly mentioned) and “other” (less frequently mentioned problems). The main issues have been identified as having significant negative effects on residents and merchants in SL.
- High cost of land /tier: This was the biggest complaint and negatively impacts on residents’ ability to have homes, buy sims, keep businesses open and keep sims open for role playing, culture, education etc. Concern was also expressed about grandfathered sims, the risk of losing this and it becoming more expensive to own and maintain sims in SL. The policy of not being able to own a homestead without first owning a full class sim was also raised as an issue.
- Lag. This has been a consistent and ongoing issue perceived to be caused by mesh, LL upgrades and introduction of new features, LL and third party viewer updates and older computers not able to cope with SL with constant upgrades. Residents reported repeatedly walking into walls, being stuck, being booted off SL, not being able to rez or build, lots of avatars on sims and servers not coping etc. There were also multiple complaints about group and locat chat lag.
- Lack of communication by LL with residents. Respondents reported multiple examples of a decrease in communication and perceived lack of interest by LL in the concerns of residents, including decreased premium support, fewer communication avenues, less technical support, less help/support for new residents, less support for non-profit and educational facilities, removing residents’ last names and closing jira to open view.
- Continuous upgrades and improvements, without ongoing bugs being resolved first such as introducing pathfinding before fixing other ongoing bugs that impacted on residents experiences. The constant upgrades forces viewers to upgrade and people to upgrade their computers, which can impact on those who may not be able to afford to do so such as people on disability, for whom Secondlife is a huge part of their social interaction.
- Lack of perceived capability by LL to respond quickly and effectively deal with breaches of TOS including reported DMCAs, griefers, copybotters and abusers including allowing people to create multiple alts with the intention of griefing, copybotting, spamming etc.
- Limited prim allocation.
- Limited group numbers.
- In-world search.
- Lack of user friendly forums.
- Allowing underage people into SL when SL is very sex focused – forcing changes in policy and in how people do business.
- Different sizes of mesh clothing, lack of deformer for mesh clothing.
- Caps on IMs.
- Cost of uploading mesh, textures, photos etc.
- Privacy issues – what does LL do with all the information on residents it collects, what does it collect, does it let residents know that it is being collected, are residents able to access it, what is it used for.
- Too much of a focus on sex, including items depicting rape advertised on marketplace
- Too much drama, violence, rudeness, anti-social behaviour, dishonesty, phishers.
- Too many freebies.
- Not allowing Second Life to have some stability and grow organically.
What is your main type of business in SL?
27% Home and garden
7% Full perm content creators
6% Land sales/rentals
4% Media (magazines, radio etc) / Tools & Gadgets
3% General entertainment (clubs, singers)
How long have you had a business in SL?
17% Less than a year
15% More than 5 years
13% 3 – 4 years / 4 – 5 years
11% 1 – 2 years / 2 – 3 years
Does your SL business provide enough income (Lindens) to cover your business expenses in SL (tier, advertising, capital, templates, textures etc)?
If you have had a business in SL for over two years what are some of the significant changes in SL that you feel have affected your business (both negatively and positively).
The responses were far more negative than positive.
- The introduction of mesh
- Working collaboratively
- Supportive community
- Direct delivery
- Less theft of mesh on marketplace
- More attention to copybotting by Linden Labs
- Increased realism and in-world imaging – has lead to an increased quality of video production
These issues were reported multiple times in responses.
- The introduction of mesh – creating more lag, forcing upgrades of viewers and computers, not well introduced creating multiple issues for builders
- Cost of land / tier staying the same or going up, while sales are going down
- Constant upgrades and changes both in-world and on marketplace by Linden Labs – forcing merchants to continuously fix or upgrade their products, merchants having to upskill and upgrade to stay in business
- Decreasing resident numbers / poor resident retention – leading to a decrease in sales
- Hunts, sales, midnight mania and freebies – resulted in devaluing items and negative impact on sales
- Lack of support for merchants and not listening to merchant concerns & support tickets by Linden Lab ™
- One land estate owner appearing to be favoured by Linden Lab ™, leading to a decrease in the number of small estate owners
- Search not working well
- Lack of advertising avenues in SL
If you have closed a business in SL over the last 6 months why?
People could tick more than one box for this question. Percentage is of those who answered the question, not the over number of respondents.
66% too expensive to continue
40% lack of sales
31% lack of traffic
17% lost interest / too many upgrades/ other
6% real life commitments
If you have started a business in SL in the last 6 months, what has been easy / difficult about this?
Once again there were some clearly identified common issues, for both easy and difficult.
- Plenty of help to get started – classes, groups, resources such as textures, animations, sculpts etc.
- Easy to learn building.
- Easy to get started – finding land, classes, items, prefabs.
- Expensive to start up and get established – in land, advertising on marketplace etc
- Lack of advertising avenues/options in SL
- Difficult to promote and get stores noticed
- Hard to market a store in SL
- Hard to establish traffic and customers at in-world stores
- People wanting a lot for little money
- Even for residents who build as a “hobby” – it is time consuming to build and establish a store
Do you know how to market your business in SL?
If so, how?
Respondents could select more than one answer
19% Social networking sites (Facebook, Plurk, Flickr)
7% Store location / sales events
List the least effective marketing technique from the choices listed
7% Hunts / Store location
5% Social networking
Do you use Marketplace to sell items?
What do you like about Marketplace?
- Another avenue for selling items
- Easy to list items
- Easy to find and compare items from different merchants
- No lag associated with in-world stores
- Better for finding items than using in-world search
- Faster / cheaper than selling items in-world
- Reach a wider customer base than inworld store can
- No land rental costs
- Easier browsing of items than going from store to store in-world
- Bigger range of products
- Able to provide rating / feedback
- Allows new stores to get known easier than it is in-world
- Able to send items as gifts
What do you dislike about Marketplace?
I’ve categorized the reported issues into “main” (issues repeatedly mentioned) and “other” (less frequently mentioned issues).
From some of the issues raised, it appears that there may be poor explanation of how Marketplace works for merchants and what they are able to do in listing / editing / deleting multiple items.
- Negatively effects in-world shopping was listed multiple times as a major concern.
- Pages filled up by listings of the same item in different colours/textures by the same merchant.
- Pages of freebies / cheap items – affects ability for merchants to have their high quality items found.
- A lot of old content is still listed by merchants who are no longer in SL.
- Keyword search system is poor – multiple items come up that are not related to the keywords used.
- The cost of advertising on MP too expensive.
- Merchants are not able to delete items.
- Merchants are not able to list more than one brand.
- Merchants are not able to categorise their own listings on their pages.
- Not able to refund customers for failed deliveries or allow for redelivery of item – merchant has to search through inventory and send to customer.
- If there is a failed delivery and the creator is no longer online, the customer does not get the item or a refund for the failed delivery. The creator also may choose to ignore the request from a customer.
- MP constantly breaks or has bugs that are not fixed before new updates are introduced.
- Search by “relevance” doesn’t work.
- To use Direct Delivery merchants have to update viewers and computers.
- Rating system is corrupt (can get friends to buy and leave good ratings).
- Customers can leave an unfair poor feedback / rating because of minor issue or issue not in the control of the creator.
- Merchants can not ban people from buying items on MP, who may be banned from the store in-world due to copybotting / griefing / abuse of TOS etc.
- Merchants cant add videos – have to link to YouTube or Flickr
- Lots of sellers without in-world stores.
- Too few vendors use good descriptive words for their items.
- Too many copybotted or copyright infringement items.
- Needs better filters for mesh / demo / free items.
- Lack of sufficient reporting options / measurement tools for merchants.
- MP is overcrowded, full of obsolete, poor quality or freebie items.
One suggestion that could apply not just to Marketplace, but Second Life ™ in general is that there is no live support or LL ™ support group specifically for merchants / creators.
We specifically asked for demographic information, as there has been a general feeling that LL ™ is developing and marketing Second Life ™ for young gamers, ignoring the needs and concerns of existing and long-term residents.
4% 13 – 20
8% 21 – 30
26% 31 – 40
30% 41 – 50
25% 51 – 60
6% 61 – 70
1% 70 and over
Thank you to the residents who took the time to complete the first SL Business Survey by the Centre for Business Development.
This information will be extremely useful to the CBD and other interested parties in helping us to develop strategies to address the issues identified in the report. It will be a challenge, but we look forward to making SL better for merchants and residents.
Heavenly Villa & Bill Kaye
The Centre for Business Development Trustees