Friday, November 2, 2018

Sansar Going To Steam, SandeX To Close

On Wednesday October 31, Linden Lab's Sansar team made a major announcement. The first part was that Sansar would soon be available on Steam.

Sansar has come a long way since we started the project. In 2018 we have devoted an enormous amount of effort to improving the end-user experience, and will continue to do so.

Given those improvements, we believe we are quickly approaching the point where we want to start bringing a large number of users onto the platform. This is an important milestone for us and especially our creators. One of the foundational principles of Sansar is that creators must be able to profit from their creations. For us to make that a reality, we need to give our creators a large audience of customers.

The cornerstone of our growth effort will be to put Sansar on Steam. Steam is where more than half of the VR market goes to find software. It also is a huge pool of users who are interested in our space and are likely to have the hardware required to run Sansar. We anticipate being able to get onto Steam by the end of this year. This is a huge step for us and we’re excited to be able introduce Sansar to an even wider audience.

Steam is a platform highly popular with gamers where people can buy games, expansions, and apps. According to the Wikipedia entry, Steam has over 150 million registered users. Linden Lab would have Second Life available on it in 2012

The second part of the announcement was that Linden Lab would be shutting down the SandeX, which is where users of Sansar currently buy and sell the virtual world's currency.

In order to do this, we are obligated to make significant changes to how Sansar works, especially in how the Sansar Dollar and process credit system work. These changes, will also make the credit process for Creators far more consistent and predictable. The first change is that we will be discontinuing the Sandex as of December 4, 2018.

After that date, we will be moving to a fixed conversion rate model. Creators will continue to be able to sell their work for Sansar Dollars on the Store (and soon in experiences!). Eligible creators may convert some or all of their earned Sansar Dollar balance to US dollars at a rate of S$250 to $1, and then request a USD credit to be processed in 30 days. This matches Steam’s payment timeline.

We understand that this may have an impact on the amount of revenue returned to creators compared to the Sandex. However, we believe that in the long run our creators will significantly benefit from having access to the larger Steam user base. In addition, anyone who has created their Sansar account before December 31, 2018 will receive a legacy conversion rate of S$143 to $1 until December 31, 2019, after which the conversion rate for all accounts will be S$250 to $1.

Our automated Sansar Dollar Conversion page will not be available until January 2019. In the interim, we are committed to working with our Creators to manually process credit requests of Sansar Dollars through an email process, the details of which will soon follow.

Ryan Schultz, who started his blog as focused on Sansar, remarked, "... Linden Lab is betting the farm that putting Sansar on Steam will lead to an influx of new users with cash to spend. They’ve weighed the pros and cons and they’re willing to put up with the fees that Steam will charge, in exchange for a wider audience.I simply cannot overstate what a major change in strategy this is." Schultz would also state that Linden Lab did answer a few questions in Sansar's Discord channel. Of the thirty day delay in processing credit, the answer was, "The problem is that Steam operates on a 30-60 day window. If we keep it at a few days, we will be floating credit for 1-2 months. That’s an uncomfortable financial situation to be in."

Daniel Voyager would remind his readers that, "Second Life didn’t work out very well on Steam back in 2012. It’s going to be interesting to see what impact this will have on Sansar’s user usage and revenue during 2019. The lab are gambling on a huge influx of new users with cash to spend to make Sansar more successful in the years ahead." On the Virtualverse forum (the successor to SL Universe), a couple posters were hopeful. But others were skeptical, one remarking, "the breathtaking potential that SL had in the early days is just not there."

Sources: Sansar, Ryan Scultz, Daniel Voyager, Virtualverse

Bixyl Shuftan

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