X Street Fail

I think by now everyone’s seen the changes that are upcoming for X Street.  Minimum L$99 fee for listing a freebie, listing fee of L$10 per item per month for everything. Minimum L$3 commission on everything (this affects all items under L$50 sale price).

People are de-listing their stuff in droves.

It seems to me, based on their stated intentions, that this is exactly what they want to happen. LL are not interested in allowing small businesses, newcomers or hobby merchants to trade, because they (potentially) won’t bring in as much commission. This, coupled with their new proposal for a FIC mall of major designers paying 30% commission is paving the way for a SL Grid where the only merchants that are able to trade at all are major ones with a massive annual turnover that can swallow LL’s fees without blinking.

Someone suggested piling all your freebies/cheapies into one box and selling them at a decent enough price to swallow the fees, but really this is what BIAB resellers are doing anyway, and that’s one of the stated things that LL want to get rid of.

There are a few alternative merchant sites where SL content can be found. I went off to look at one of them and the first thing I saw on the main page was a box of eyes for L$400; the same box of “fantasy eyes” that’s available in all the freebie stores for nothing. In any case as soon as any competitor gets anywhere near being popular or successful, LL will carry out a hostile takeover, and shut it down, as they did with OnRez.

Now that LL’s main “product” is the Standalone behind-the-firewall grid, and the only customers they really want are corporations, the rest of us; the consumers who only buy, and the small merchants who run a business with only enough profit to maybe cover their tier, are seen as pests to be gotten rid of ASAP because we spoil the professional image with our nightclubs and sex clubs and roleplaying games.

I am left wondering now, how long it will be before LL apply commission charges and “listing fees” to all inworld merchants too, not just those on XStreet. Playing Nostradamus here, I’ll take a guess at 12 months, and then the death of the grid as we know it very shortly after, because then the only people who will be able to afford to stay in this supposedly “free” grid are those major corporations that LL are so keen to suck up to. Small merchants will be gone because they can’t afford the fees. Major merchants will raise their prices because (a) they have to recover the value of the fees and (b) they have no competitors any more so they can charge what they like. Consumers will leave because there’s nothing interesting to buy any more, and what there is left is pretty, but too expensive. That leaves the IBM executives. And none of them are going to buy stuff either, have you ever noticed that people who are inworld for actual work are still wearing system hair and skin, and wearing the same freebie suit their avatar started with.

For the rest of us, I think it’s time to look for another grid. And don’t think that’s not what LL really want. They don’t want your hundred bucks a year. They want residents who are going to spend thousands.

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