This week, Linden Lab announced that it was going to start charging listing fees and minimum commissions on its Second Life Xstreet Web-shopping adjunct in the near future. Within hours, vendors took down thousands of products, many abandoning the service entirely in favor of alternative services.
It's unclear just how many vendors have abandoned the Xstreet SL system, but it apparently was enough to temporarily overload the Web-sites of third-party sites such as Slapt.
Linden Lab indicates that the move was espoused by vendors and customers during three Commerce office hours sessions, which is interesting, because from going through the transcripts, the discussions give the appearance that the changes to Xstreet were pre-arranged.
The majority of the vendors who are still listing products on Xstreet SL have increased the price of freebies to at least four Linden Dollars (to cover the new minimum sales-commissions and listing fees) and appear to be trimming all but their top-selling content.
Anything remaining as a free product will have a listing fee applied to it, and be shunted off to a category where it will not appear in search results. New monthly listing fees are being applied, and the cheapest items are to have minimum commissions. Basic profit appears to be the motivation here – we've not seen any other more plausible explanation to-date. If the move is intended to boost Xstreet's bottom line, we don't think the remaining content will make up enough of a difference.
With hundreds of vendors and thousands of products going dark over the move, it seems like the shopping experience is either moving back in-world, or going out to third-parties. Thus far, according to Linden Lab's figures, Xstreet SL has failed to capture more than a tiny fraction of overall Second Life commerce and, given the state of Xstreet's search facilities at present and the limited integration between Xstreet and Second Life, shopping for items in-world still seems to be the more engaging experience overall.
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