The following notes are taken from the Sansar Product Meeting held on Tuesday, March 27th. These weekly Product Meetings are open to anyone to attend, are a mix of voice (primarily) and text chat. Dates and times are currently floating, so check the Meet-up Announcements and the Sansar Atlas events sections each week.
The subject for this meeting was events, although the discussions were inevitably far more wide-ranging.
The mid-March release, now called the It’s A Party release, included the client-side option for Sansar experience owners to promote events they are running through the Sansar events listings in both the client and on the web. This is part of the Lab’s desire to increase the active user count within Sansar and to encourage more social / fun activities on the platform.
Some issues have been identified with the way events are surfaced in both the Sansar Events web page and the client.
- Currently, the Events app in the client and the Events page on the web have a Featured tab which only lists upcoming events. Ideally, this tab should only list those events selected by Linden Lab to be Featured events; there should be a separate tab for Upcoming events, listing them in chronological order.
- The Lab has not actually started curating user-submitted events. This will start happening in the near future.
- Within the client Atlas, Upcoming events are only displayed when the Featured experiences tab is selected. Switching to any other Atlas view – All, Sansar Studios, My Friends, Favourites – and the list of Upcoming events vanishes. Ideally, the Upcoming events should persist across all client Atlas views.
- A suggestion is to add an Events tab to the Atlas (as well as having the Upcoming list), which could either list events, or (preferably) open / switch to the Events app window.
Promoting Events / Inviting people to Events
The Lab is currently considering way to promote events and inviting people to events, both within and beyond Sansar. This is seen a part of building a comprehensive notifications system.
- The ability to promote through social media platforms requires the inclusion of the authorisation processes / APIs for those platform, something which isn’t on the immediate list (at the current point in time, inclusion of something like Facebook authorisation might not be viewed positively anyway).
- An idea raised at the meeting to include the option to export event items to meetup.com pages or Eventbite pages, for those who wish to use those services.
- Inviting people to events is, in the Lab’s eyes, a complex issue, as it is tied to the permissions system, and to things like future abilities for event organisers to host their events in experiences built and owned by others, etc.
- However, being able to directly invite people into an event is seen as critical, and far more beneficial than simply placing an event notice out on the web or broadcasting it purely through social media in the hope of attracting interest.
The Lab’s initial thinking around paid events takes two forms:
- Ticketing: allowing event organisers to set up a “paywall” in front of their event (e.g. those wishing to attend must purchase a ticket through the Sansar Store).
- Tipping: the means for those attending an event to tip the organisers at some point. This would include scripted support so tippers can be recorded / acknowledged. There will also be a means for event organisers to see how well their events are helping to monetise their experiences. Tipping can be approached in a number of ways:
- Via a scripted object, which pays the experience owner / object owner directly;
- Via gifting – payment from one person to another, although this requires the permissions system to be in place.
- Via the Sansar Store – purchase a set price “tip jar” to pay the creator / event host (as both will currently likely be the same).
The question was raised about encouraging event co-ordinators from Second Life into Sansar.
- On the plus side, some event co-ordinators are content to obtain space (available for free in Sansar) and build-out their event using purchases from the Marketplace (or in this case, the Sansar Store).
- One the minus side, there is no way, currently, for event co-ordinators to collaborate with experience owners in developing and building-out an event in partnership nor is there any means for event co-ordinators to be paid via the platform by an experience owner to plan and run an event on the experience creator’s behalf.
Other Events-Related Items in Brief
- Support for Recurring Events: currently, events can only be created on an individual basis – there is no means to create a recurring event. This has been requested multiple times since the It’s A Party release was deployed, and it is something the Lab as added to their list of capabilities to be added to the events feature.
- Linden Lab’s Current Events / Marketing Approach: Linden Lab is currently experimenting with pulling live stream events into Sansar and trying to build an audience around them. In early Mars, for example, there was a series of Twitch live streams – painting, playing chess, dungeons and dragons discussions, etc.
- Offering gifts: gifts can form a major part of events in Second Life. currently, event organisers cannot easily offer gifts directly to visitors to their events in Sansar – gifts can only be made available through the Sansar Store, which means they are available to anyone, rather than exclusive to the event.
New User On-Boarding
The Lab is in the process of developing a more advanced new user experience. This is to include a new tutorial, and may take the approach of dropping new users into a lobby space where they can socialise together, learn how to control their avatar, etc., prior to moving them on to the Atlas and broader explorations.
Events are seen as an important element of this work, as ideally, the Lab would like to direct new users coming into Sansar through their on-boarding process to places where there is activity and they will likely be welcomed.
Payment Channels for Sansar Dollars
The Lab is still looking to provide more channels for purchasing Sansar Dollars – e.g. PayPal, with plans to broaden the choices to match those in Second Life (e.g. credit / debit cards, PayPal, Skrill). However, this work has been on hold for a while, and it is not clear where it sits in the Lab’s current road map.
Sansar operates on a fundamentally different model to Second Life, in which transaction fees play a much large role as a means for Linden Lab to generate revenue from the platform.
This means, for example, that tips, as with any form of monetised transaction will be subject to a transaction fee (the same fee as applied to the Sansar Store). This will be applied on top of the tip / transfer amount, rather than subtracted from it (as with Second Life). So, for example, if the Sansar transaction fee is 15%, someone tipping another person S$100 will be charged S$115, including the transaction fee.
The Lab has been considering a minimum threshold amount that can be gifted that is fee-free, but once payments / transfers exceed that amount, the transaction fee is applied, the thinking being the payment is essentially for services rendered, and thus subject to “tax”.
It has been pointed out that for creators, up to 26.5% in fees can be levied (15% transaction fee, 10% fee for converting a S$ amount to fiat currency, and a bank transfer fee applied to the amount).
- The Lab feels that while not necessarily set in stone, the fees represent a fair price point when compared to other content selling sites, where the fees and bt 30% or more. However, they also note those sites are able to offer revenue generation at volume to those selling through them, which Sansar cannot currently offer due to the user base size.
Ability to Pay Subscriptions via Sansar Dollar Income
In Second life, it is possible to cash-out Linden Dollar amount to fiat money and then leave the amount on account to pay things like Premium membership fees and tier. No similar mechanism currently exists in Sansar to allow creators to cash-out their $S balances and use the result $ balance to pay their subscription fees. This has now been raised as a feature request.