Freebies! The magical word that has the potential to draw both applause and ire, depending on your own individual feelings about the subject. If, like me, you started life in SL destitute, with ony the system clothes you originally rezzed in, then freebies were a God-send, and they ensured that most of my needs were met for a good few years before I took the plunge and started investing real money into the virtual world. So, I have much to be grateful for, thanks to freebies, but not everybody feels that way.
There are those who argue that freebies are a terrible thing – they undermine the hard work that content creators expend on their products and they lead to false expectations in terms of what constitutes value for money. ‘If I can get something for free – why should I pay a reasonable price for it’, so the argument goes. Personally, I’ve always considered that the consumer always has the choice anyway – freebies notwithstanding – if somebody wants something badly enough, they’ll pay the price, whatever it is; if they don’t, they won’t. Certainly, we may consider some things cost more than the value we perceive them to hold, but value is a strange thing, relative to both the seller and buyer’s perceptions, and usually reflects far more than just an arbitrary stab in the dark at a figure.
Take, for example, my own little manufacturing niche. I might sell an average, straightforward piece of neon decor for around L$250. You, being the astute and savvy consumer that you are, may think that’s a little over-priced, and that you can probably get something just as good, if not better, elsewhere for less. I won’t stand in your way, you should spend your hard-earned lindens in the best way you can, and I understand that ‘value’ to you means value-for money and gettting a bargain for what you’re paying for. I, on the other hand, have a different handle on the value intrinsic to that particular item:
I will have spent a disproportionate amount of time designing and planning that piece; then there’s the whole mind-numbing and long-winded process of creating, texturing, rendering and exporting the mesh – a process I might go through half a dozen times before I’m happy with the finished object. Once inworld, there’s tweaking and scripting to be done, followed by the even more mind-numbing and time-consuming process of creating a Marketplace listing. Then, there’s more time spent in Photoshop, creating a suitable image for MP, before I can finally reveal my new creation to the world, and even then, should I choose to blog about it, that’s more time and effort expended on an item that, in real terms, is worth all of 55p in real money. That’s before taking off all the upload fees, the 10% cut that Marketplace takes from sales and all the hidden costs of land rental, advertising and other outlay that supports this little venture. So, that’s a good few hours of work, for practically no return – I reckon L$250 is way too little – but I have to be pragmatic and be competetive.
So, what you perceive as an item’s value, is likely to be very different to how a creator perceives its value.
Therefore, if a content creator chooses to give away something for nothing, I’m pretty certain that a) they have a pretty good idea of market forces, brand loyalty and consumer thinking, or b) they are simply doing it for the greater good, and just want to spread a little happiness.
Either way, it’s their choice, and if they’ve chosen to give away freebies, I’m not going to feel bad, or consider myself a freeloader for taking them up on their generosity. Indeed, many of my favourite freebies have seen me returning to pay real, hard cash for other items from the same creator.
I’m not an indescriminate freebie collector however, and I only pick up those things that appeal to me. Which indirectly, leads me to the matter of lucky chairs. I equally love and loathe the things. Love them, because it’s freebies! Loathe them because my letter never comes up, and when it does, the freebie on offer is never the one that I want! I can waste hours stood around a cluster of lucky chairs, waiting for that magical combination of my object of desire and the letter S to coincide, whilst desperately scanning the horizon, hoping I have a faster trigger-finger than any other avatar who shares my initial, lurking to usurp me of my rightful prize!
Some years ago, I came across the ultimate in torture – a cross between a lucky chair and gacha. It held an outfit I desperately wanted, but rendered down into its component parts, each of which was randomly being offered via lucky chair. With 12 items required for the full outfit and 28 alphanumerical characters to randomly pop up at intervals of 15 minutes, I calculated it would take me something like a million years constantly logged in to stand any chance of coming away with the full set. (My maths may have been a little out, but I knew it was a very big number, however you calculate it). It actually took me six weeks of random TPs to the store for short stints, which – to this day – still surprises me and seems impossible, but I did indeed walk away with the whole outfit, and – of course – I’ve subsequently worn it…. erm, twice!
So, it can be done, but you really have to have your heart set on success if you’re ever going to see it through; which brings me to my latest mission.
I have just discovered a lucky chair that contains some really, really cool stuff – well, I think it’s cool anyway – and it’s expensive stuff too… Things that I’d have a hard job justifying splashing out on if I was simply to buy them outright. There’s only two or three items I’ve really set my heart on, but there is a catch. This particular chair has a 60-minute countdown – so even without a single duplicated letter, that’s a possible wait of up to 27 hours before my initial comes up, and that’s not taking into account the happy possibility of my initial coinciding with my preferred winnings; and then repeat, two more times.
I’m nothing, if not determined, however – and this is a mission I fully intend to complete, even if it kills me!
So, if you happen to see me logging in at weird times of day for just a few minutes, at intervals of around an hour… You’ll know exactly what I’m up to.
Although, feel free to question my sanity!
Free from the lock up, me say
Free from the debt
Free like a butterfly
Free like a bee
The Soup Dragons – I’m Free