Linden Lab’s Sansar (formerly known as Project Sansar) has hit the new year running with press reports of a new round of creator invites, a Sansar Marketplace, news of monetisation with the introduction of the Sansar dollar and a video giving a sneak preview of Sansar which appears to have been produced and directed by Draxtor Despres of The Drax Files : World Makers fame. I will embed the video near the bottom of this post.
Dean Takahashi over at VentureBeat reports : Linden Lab debuts marketplace for Sansar VR world. The article informs us that Sansar will allow creators who are already in Sansar to buy and sell content from today. Ebbe Altberg makes an appearance in the article :
This sets the tone and shows creators they will monetize what they create on day one, when we open our doors,” Altberg said. “The buying and selling will get them comfortable with the new platform.
Those of us who are familiar with Second Life will not be surprised to learn that the Sansar Dollar will work in a similar way to the Linden Dollar, with Sansar Dollars being used for purchases and then redeemed for a US dollar to Sansar Dollar exchange rate. Linden Lab will take a cut of these currency transactions, as they do with the Linden Dollar.
The currency and sales transaction fees are likely to be higher than Second Life because the aim with Sansar is for hosting fees to be much lower than they are in Second Life. The VentureBeat article again turns to Ebbe Altberg for further information :
We want it to be low enough that it does not add unnecessary friction to the economy,” Altberg said. “But we do want to get a piece of the GDP and then make the hosting fees for Sansar as low as possible. We charged quite a bit for the hosting fees in Second Life and didn’t have a consumption tax to take part of the GDP. So now we will balance the hosting fees and the consumption fees in the economy.
There’s plenty more to read in the VentureBeat article and I highly recommend that you read it if Sansar interests you. There’s also an article about Sansar by Kevin Carbotte over at Tom’s Hardware : Linden Lab Introduces Sansar Monetization System, Reveals First Video Footage. This article includes an interview with Linden Lab CEO Ebbe Altberg and Gray of the Lab from San Francisco (AKA Peter Gray, Senior Director of Global Communications at Linden Lab).
The above is a picture of Peter Gray in Second Life, I have no idea how he looks in Sansar!
The interview in Tom’s Hardware contains a lot of interesting information, but we should also bear in mind that Sansar is still at the preview stage and that things may change. The interview does touch upon why there’s a Sansar Dollar, rather than the Linden Dollar being introduced to Sansar, they are set to have different exchange rates based on market prices, as Ebbe Altberg explains in answer to a question regarding how much a Sansar Dollar will cost :
It’s going to be set by the market. There is no set conversion rate. We basically need to get to a critical mass of exchanges where the users ultimately determines the value through the buying and selling on the exchange.
Where we get an idea that the Linden Dollar and Sansar Dollar will have different exchange rates comes from the initial price of the Sansar Dollar, which will only be available from Linden Lab at this time, which looks set to be a rate of one penny per Sansar Dollar as Peter Gray explains :
Roughly, yes. So, for one U.S. dollar, you would get one hundred Sansar Dollars at the initial rate, and again, we’re still in a limited preview period.
As stated though, this may change, will be dictated to a large degree by the market price and it’s still at the preview stage. The interview at Tom’s Hardware also explains Linden Lab’s thinking behind inviting creators as opposed to consumers first. Tom’s Hardware suggest that a creator first approach is the opposite of the approach of YouTube, which went for consumers first and then quality creators after. Ebbe Altberg agrees with this suggestion :
Yeah, I think that’s fair. I mean, you have a spectrum. Imagine WordPress on one end and YouTube on the other. They’re both platforms for creators. If you go to WordPress.com, it doesn’t really have a consumer proposition at all. It’s really just like, “What kind of website do you want to make?” I don’t go there to find websites to go read or engage with. Whereas YouTube, the surface area is 99% consumer, and this little entry point for someone to upload a video to also become a creator.
Part of that is the complexity of the platform itself. Like on YouTube; it takes very very little effort to become a creator. Whereas WordPress or something like Sansar, it does take a bit more sophistication in creating something that it’s successful.
This is a fair point and Ebbe also goes on to point out that there’s currently a huge gap in the market for the kind of creation that Sansar wants to encourage. Currently the sort of tools required can be complex and require rather large teams to bring to life, that’s before you get to the aspect of hosting, monetisation etc. Linden Lab aim to remove a lot of these complexities and allow creators to be able to bring their creations to life in a 3D VR medium in minutes. This is a bold aim, but Linden Lab do sound very confident.
Linden Lab are also looking to the future for the sort of experiences that may appear, and of course they have experience from Second Life, where some of these use cases have already appeared. Ebbe Altberg states :
Over time, we will have a slew of incredible experiences for education; for gaming; for health; for socializing; for brands; for you name it. And then we will decide how to expose that to a larger audience as those things come about.
There’s a lot more in the interview and if you’re interested in Sansar, it’s definitely worth a read. As I mentioned earlier, there’s also a video preview. The video is a collaboration between Draxtor Despres, his son and Loz Hyde of the Second Life brand Meshworx.
We’ve seen a collaboration between Draxtor Despres and Loz Hyde before in Second Life terms.
Draxtor Despres featured Loz Hyde in episode 23 of The Drax Files : World Makers.
The above images are from Second Life, not Sansar! However it should come as no surprise that someone as talented as Loz Hyde is part of the Sansar creator preview and the video I’m about to post does include footage from Sansar.
Linden Lab are promising more videos, more screenshots and more information over the coming months as they prepare to allow more people into Sansar. This does indeed look interesting and powerful and I’ll certainly be keeping an eye on developments. I hope some of you will too.