Closed market

camdenInteresting times ahead are promised by the launch of Primbay, which may turn out to be a real contender as a preferred method of buying and selling sl content. i’ve already had a little dabble with it – although i’ve yet to try purchasing anything – and my first impressions are very good: it’s fast, search works extremely well, and there’s already a huge variety items, (in their thousands), available. Unlike the sl Marketplace, there’s also the possibility of trading across grids, although at present Primbay only supports sl and Avination – but it’s early days yet.

i can’t speak from the perspective of a vendor, since that’s a route i’ve not yet gone down, but certainly i’ve seen plenty to suggest that the sl Marketplace has always performed less than satisfactorily for those who wish to sell, and certainly, from a buyer’s perspective it’s dreadfully flawed. It beggars belief that it’s not possible to perform a proper Boolean search for items and that, no matter what search terms are used, the amount of ‘noise’ – in the form of completely unrelated items – is completely disproportionate to the number of useful results returned.  It’s always baffled me that Marketplace is so slow too and, despite the new checkout system, i’ve lost count of the number of failed or borked transactions i’ve experienced.

It seems to me that Linden Lab have really shot themselves in the foot this time. Primbay, coming hard on the heels of the bad feeling caused by the recent TOS change, may well be the incentive that finally drives content creators away from the Linden death grip. Many have threatened to leave sl, but few have actually done so – other grids simply don’t offer the kind of returns that sl does – but now that there’s an alternative to the Marketplace, and one which offers access to other grids too, what’s to stop any content creator switching loyalties, without losing any of the benefits that staying in sl brings?

The Lab has always been in a rather unique position with regard to sl – they’ve always been the brand leaders and they’ve never had any realistic competition. Whilst that hasn’t really changed overall, what Primbay does is bring the threat of serious competition for one of sl’s revenue streams, and at a time when there’s a fair bit of disenchantment amongst those for whom the Marketplace represents a significant part of their sl investment. In the real world, of course, competition isn’t always a bad thing and can be the boot up the backside that triggers all round improvement, but many would question whether the Lab actually does inhabit the real world when it comes to their business model and sl, particularly when it comes to web-based APIs, like Marketplace and profile feeds, where it’s clear the Lab are less than clued-up about what their customers want and need.

It will be interesting to see how things develop, particularly when Primbay offers faster, more focussed Boolean searches; a simple, but effective, adult content filter; and, the potential for cross-platform trading. That’s not to say it’s currently ‘all singing, all dancing’ – there are some features, such as sorting, that are noticeably lacking, but even at this stage i’d say the disadvantages are outweighed by the good points.

sc_001Personally, i’ve never been a big fan of the Marketplace, and wherever possible, i do my shopping inworld – something that has become ever more difficult since the implementation of v2 search and the seemingly neverending stream of traders who are closing down their inworld presence completely. To me, one of the fundamental tenets of virtual world shopping is the enjoyment that can be had from exploring stores inworld: it’s more touchy-feely than browsing a web page, more fun and in many ways, shopping inworld is more experiential and enjoyable than Marketplace will ever be. Given the choice between flitting around a well thought out inworld store – music playing over the stream, lucky chairs, Midnight Mania boards and the occasional unexpected surprise – and flicking through the Marketplace, inworld shopping wins every time, as far as i’m concerned. The Marketplace is just too sterile, slow and dysfunctional – it does have its uses, and i do shop there for specific items or last-minute needs, but even then – more often than not – i’ll grab the link to the inworld store and pay a visit before buying.

What may happen: who knows? This particular venture could be full of surprises!

s. x

Oh, shoplifters of the world 
Unite and take over 
Shoplifters of the world 
Hand it over 
The Smiths – Shoplifters Of The World Unite

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