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财经商务 & IT & 行业动态 mmpower on 25 Jan 2007 01:06 pm

关于虚拟世界Second Life的金融模式--是骗局抑或新经济?

今天看到一个新闻,一位金融分析师认为SL的经济模式是一种骗局,挺有意思的,在这儿抛抛砖欢迎众大侠聊聊侃侃。

在说说这个分析前先简介一下 Second life:

第二人生 (Second Life)是一个互联网上虚拟的3D世界--在这个世界中,每个人可以建立自己的一个虚拟的“第二人生”,与在这个虚拟世界中的其他人发生各种各样的关系,实现自己在现实生活中没能实现的梦。

与一般MMORPG不同的是这个世界里几乎所有的东西都是它的居民(也就是游戏参与者)自己创造的,包括房屋,商店,银行,报纸。。。任何你能想象得到得东西。这些东西的所有权属于它的创造者而不属于游戏商…SL的成员之间可用虚拟货币进行交易并可以second life 用美元与虚拟货币进行兑换。也就是说你可以用美元兑换成虚拟货币在SL里投资,在second life里的虚拟business里赚了钱也可以cash out变成真正的钱的。

自2003年开张以来,SL迅速扩张,现拥有超过两百万的居民, 虚拟的经济规模GDP达到2.2亿美元,同时产生了一批在现实中通过cash out在SL赚钱维生甚至致富的玩家(例如著名second life房地产大亨Anshe Chung)。最近一段时间seond life名气越来越大,例如获VC投资,吸引多家大公司进驻(在虚拟世界中做广告,培训, 建立汽车城,甚至发行信用卡等等).

最新的新闻是前几天AOL宣布将在second life里开名为AOL pointe的虚拟商店; Second life 宣布将open source其客户端软件等。。。风头甚劲

回到正题,说说seocnd life的经济模式--这是一个纯粹自由的资本主义经济,没有任何干预和监管。不断有人质疑这种模式的可行性。 例如,去年就有关于Second life里的最大银行Ginko Financial的大争论--至去年10月Ginko Financial号称拥有6000万虚拟货币的存款(相当于20几万美刀), 超过一万的存款帐户,每个帐户年利息收益达44%。许多人认为这是一个典型的 Ponzi 模式(http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ponzi_scheme)--又称金字塔模型(Pyramid scheme),也就是说先来的客户的利息是依靠新加入的客户的存款来支付的。。。银行没有投资收入。。。这样的话结果银行一定会崩溃而后来的客户会血本无归。因为second life是一个完全没有对business监管的社会,公司的操作也不透明,自然而然引发这样的怀疑。

一位金融师在深入second life分析(链接)后,得出的结论是:

• One cannot profit at greater than the risk-free rate of return for investments into Second Life;
• "Virtual labor" performed by the denizens of the game on their various Second Life business projects is always compensated far below the real-world USD equivalent;
• SLL are effectively illiquid beyond small volume trades –

What you’re left with is lots of people putting USD in, and a small group taking those USD out, leaving the rest with no financial claims on anything - just an imaginatively sexy avatar.

”. . .We concluded that we weren’t playing in a market at all. We were suckered in by a classic pyramid scheme, albeit one with a pretty new user interface. New entrants plow real money into the game. Only the guys at the top can extract that money with any volume (and in excess of the risk-free rate of return). Attempts to move anything more than token amounts out of the game generally result in real-returns of almost exactly the prevailing USD deposit interest rate. "

4 Responses to “关于虚拟世界Second Life的金融模式--是骗局抑或新经济?”

  1. on 25 Jan 2007 at 2:06 pm 1.mmpower said …

    标题:附: Randolph Harrison 的分析 (转)

    SecondLife: Revolutionary Virtual Market or Ponzi Scheme?

    Ponzi

    In 2005 I began working as a venture consultant for some entrepreneurs and investors trying to develop a fairly ambitious “real-money-trading” (RMT) business idea. My work resulted in my collection of a large amount of RMT market data for most of the popular massively multipla<x>yer games and virtual worlds. Although the new venture was never pursued due to my analysis of the true RMT market, one game caught our particular interest: SecondLife, operated by Linden Research Inc. (privately held, San Francisco CA).

    Unlike the makers of nearly all other online games, the operators of SecondLife not only allow and encourage the exchange of game currency for real money, but they actually facilitate it. As early as 2005 I began noticing a rumbling in interest-focused blogs about the exploding market that was SecondLife. Touted as a pioneering future me<x>taverse on the industry’s most informed blog, TerraNova, an array of journalists, academics, and company executives have claimed that SecondLife boasts an economy complete with in-game banks, multiple currency exchanges, a floating currency exchange rate, and a burgeoning in-game commerce and business ba<x>se.
    The Virtual Economy

    Although many people were introduced to the idea that commerce and trade within virtual reality worlds could represent real world money profits by BusinessWeek’s cover story on infamous SecondLife resident and self described “Land Baroness”, Anshe Chung, industry followers had long realized the potential of RMT. Shanda Entertainment (SNDA), operator of the most popular and successful games in Asia, for example, had committed to a strategy of harvesting RMT profits long before Linden Research set up shop. Nonetheless, financial publications such as The Economist and The Financial Times began catching on, running articles about RMT – often citing SecondLife as the phenomenon’s leading model. One Financial Times article, referencing a university professor who makes his career by studying “virtual economies”, suggested the size of the total RMT market was $1bn USD in 2005, and would grow to over $7bn USD by 2009.

    And SecondLife was at the forefront of where money was being made. Or, so one would rationally conclude from the buzz. When BenchMark Capital backs a company like Linden Research, it’s safe to assume otherwise smart investors are expecting huge potential market payoffs.

    The idea of SecondLife’s economy is simple. It’s just like a real world economy, except it takes place entirely within the company operated game servers. Customers from around the world connect with a sort of super-browser, which renders complex graphics, video, stereo music and other useful utilities not unlike a web browser. But the difference is that SecondLife is a virtual world. More like a Hollywood representation of the web than today’s mundane reality. Customers take on avatars which represent their presence in the virtual world.

    As these avatars interact, commerce is conducted. One starts SecondLife with some fairly mundane clothing, for example. Upon entered the world, a new customer is immediately assaulted with a variety of clothes, jewelry, shoes, hair st<x>yles; and that’s only the tip of the iceberg. But nothing is free, not even in virtual reality. New customers are allocated a few “Lindens” or L$ (SLL being the standard trade abbreviation). Most new customers quickly blow through these starter L$ as they dress up their avatars.

    New L$ are distributed to customers as they pump real money into the virtual world. Nearly all customers utilize the game’s built-in “buy money” feature, which allows them to charge their credit card or PayPal account “micropayments”. Micropayments are a popular, proven business model first established in the mobile-phone market. All SecondLife does is extend this concept to a virtual reality game world.

    Sllsinks_sources200612Multiply all these micropayments among Linden’s claim of millions of customers, tens of thousands of which are online at any given time, and SecondLife supposedly represents a very real economy generating hundreds of thousands of real dollars of commerce, daily. Linden self reports an astonishing L$314,101,463 were earned in December 2006. That’s $1,163,338 USD of value by Linden’s average “exchange rate” of SLL/USD. But more about exchange rates later.
    What are People Buying?

    Reading BusinessWeek, or studying Linden’s or various other SecondLife blogs, it appears that the largest business of SecondLife is land speculation. Anshe’s claim to have earned over $1m USD from SecondLife is primarily related to her virtual land brokering business.

    Another important source of SecondLife commerce is people “playing dress up” with their avatars. Buying clothes, earrings, new faces, or other more private body parts represents a great deal of the readily visible commerce outside of virtual real estate brokers.

    Of course, anyone lingering in the world of SecondLife for more than a passing glance quickly discovers the real engine to the SecondLife economy: sex and gambling. A healthy share of micropayments are pumped into the system as customers engage in pulling the virtual slot lever or patronize one of the myriad virtual sex workers.
    But it’s Still an Economy, Right?

    As opportunists and capitalists, we’re not particularly bothered by indications that SecondLife generates most of its economic “wealth” through a rampant virtual real estate bubble which makes San Francisco, Marina District condo look like a bargain. Nor are we particularly bothered that the virtual playground provides a safe harbor for what is effectively the phone-sex industry reinvented. And internet gambling, despite the US Federal Government’s recent protestations to the contrary, is inevitable. So why not profit off of it? And how better, than in a utopian Ayn Rand open market capitalistic me<x>taverse?

    Of course, it’s not all that simple. And what’s true of the real world turns out to be true of the virtual world: if it sounds too good to be true…
    The Test

    In order to participate in a legitimate economy, there are a few basic prerequisites. SecondLife has the appearance of a virtual “securities and exchange commission”, virtual banks, virtual currency exchanges, and even virtual venture capitalists and REITS.

    In July of 2006 we took a look at two in-game banks which allowed SecondLife residents to deposit their L$, and earn interest on the balance. These are private banks, run by other pla<x>yers, not by the game company itself. I discovered that the interest rates being paid by these banks, when calculate by interest-rate-parity against the USD, were mispriced allowing for a whopping 2,786.32% return arbitrage opportunity. Over some months we sunk the better part of $10,000 USD into SecondLife, borrowing from banks, lending to banks, and entering into various types of virtual financial arrangements with virtual businesses.

    The first problem we encountered was one of counterparty risk. Put simply, you can seldom trust those with whom you’re doing business in SecondLife. Even supposedly well established, well regarded business citizens are prone to defaulting on any obligations which prove inconvenient. Whole banks will disappear over night, along with your L$ balance. Private businesses will simply refuse to make good on financial contracts. And individuals, pretty much all of whose real world identities are carefully guarded anonymous secrets, sometimes even will openly default, without recourse.

    Justifications for default and non performance are usually wrapped in pseudo-libertarian internet political rants, or SecondLife political hyperbole. The simple fact is, if you arbitrage a bank for over 2,000% return because they don’t understand financial engineering, don’t expect to be able to collect come payment time.

    But, that doesn’t mean it’s impossible to make L$. In fact, we were able to make quite a few L$ in a very short period of time, despite disingenuous counterparties.

    Enter the second problem, the L$ exchange markets are effectively rigged. Sllrates20070122 At any given time over the past year or so, the SLL/USD exchange rate has hovered between about 250 and 300. That is, for every L$300 you earned, you could expect to get $1 USD. Now recall, there are supposedly hundreds of thousands of real dollars being spent daily; over L$250,000,000. Between Linden’’s official exchange market and the private exchanges, all appearances suggest a large volume of L$ daily exchange trade.

    The catch is, however, these headline rates only apply to small amounts. For small time buyers and sellers of L$ — be they virtual Johns paying up for sexy avatar escorts, or small time digital jewelry makers cashing out a couple hundred real dollars – this works well. Most of these people will use Linden’s official LindeX exchange, anyway. LindeX is actually not a virtual currency exchange market so much as it is an open auction, anyway. This means LindeX is not particularly useful for big trades.

    SllvolumegraphSllrategraphThe private exchanges, however, are owned by the businesses which sit at the top of the SecondLife economic pyramid. The “Virtual Land Baroness” owns the largest such exchange. So it is not surprising that our attempts to trade our L$ for $ USD were met with confiscatory market reflectivity. Or, put simply, every time we attempted to transact more than a couple hundred dollars, the SLL/USD rate would spike to levels approaching or even greater than 500. Example: mid July 2006 SLL/USD was 293.0/279.2 bid/ask on the primary open exchange. Our attempts to trade L$650,000 resulted in settlement bids of 350-450. Interestingly, these trades tended to net returns of right around 4%, which was the prevailing dollar deposit rate.
    The Ponzi Scheme Epiphany

    As we scratched our heads trying to figure out if there weren’t a more clever way of disguising our trades, or perhaps creating our own in-game banks and exchanges in order to arbitrage the other direction, it suddenly dawned upon me.

    This game was just a pyramid scheme.

    SecondLife is not a dramatic taste of our future, in which markets are virtual, currency is free from government control, taxes are non-existent, and normal people can become real millionaires simply by clicking their mouse a few times.

    SecondLife isn’t even a simple virtual economy, with legitimate buying and selling, and opportunity for those who would compete.

    No, SecondLife is a classic pyramid scheme. Or, more of an Amway-like pyramid: partially legitimate, partially ponzi. Sure, there are plenty of legitimate SecondLife customers who just like to go there to get their kicks, spend a couple dollars, and be on their way.

    But, the buzz isn’t that Joe Sixpack can sit at his computer and gamble a little before bed with a smashingly attractive avatar. The buzz is that Anshe and others are making real millions. And a short visit to the world of SecondLife will reveal the frighteningly large portion of residents who “know someone who makes his or her living” doing something in SecondLife. Just the other night I had an interesting conversation with someone claiming to be a single mom of three, who spends her days turning virtual tricks and arranging for E-Bay payments through SecondLife L$. She didn’t seem to have any idea why her mysterious benefactor would pay her a commission to simply arrange PayPal transfers. More cynically intelligent readers will immediately recognize these transactions for what they are.

    Again, the fact that tax evasion, organized crime and money laundering exist in the virtual world doesn’t distress me all that much; these things exist in the real world, and have for a pretty long time. The distressing part is what this single mom said later; the same thing one will hear over and over from SecondLife residents: she was just doing the cybersex and E-Bay stuff to fund her virtual jewelry store. She was a jewelry designer, and had already opened a little shop in a virtual mall. And, to her amazement, she’d already made over L$50,000 after only a month (about $185 USD). I didn’t bother to point out that she hadn’t counted her expenses for renting her virtual shop or accounted for taxes, let alone the fact that she was earning less than 1/100th of what she could get just flipping burgers in the real world.
    SadLife

    And that’s the story of SecondLife. Like the paid promotion infomercials that run on CNBC, sadly SecondLife is a giant magnet for the desperate, uninformed, easily victimized. Its promises of wealth readily ensnare those who can least afford to lose their money or lives to such scam in exactly the same way that real estate investor seminars convince divorcees with low FICO scores to buy houses sight unseen with no money down.

    Even some corporations have dedicated marketing budgets to creating a presence in SecondLife. While few will shed a tear for the frivolousness of these companies’ spending, such adds a false legitimacy to SecondLife. Interestingly, no legitimate, real world corporation has earned net profit from SecondLife activities.

    That’s because there are but a very tiny handful that profit off of the SecondLife economy. A handful of casino owners, large scale virtual land flippers, and brothel owners are responsible for nearly all of the real money extracted from the game. And they continue to attract new recruits to the bottom of the pyramid.

    After all, Anshe Chung herself started out as a virtual whore, so you too can become a SecondLife millionaire, right?

  2. on 25 Jan 2007 at 11:57 pm 2.文清 said …

    标题:When we think about the market share in big China

    Everything would be different.

    So big a cake…hahahaha

    :mrgreen: :P :lol:
    :mrgreen: :P :lol:
    :mrgreen: :P :lol:
    :mrgreen: :P :lol:
    :mrgreen: :P :lol:

  3. on 26 Jan 2007 at 1:51 pm 3.文清 said …

    标题:金币农夫:游戏即工作–游戏中虚拟装备和货币与现实世界中真实货币的兑换可能

    原文选自: http://movieworm.mysmth.net

    在中国东北的辽中及其他地方,一些高中毕业没受过高等教育也找不到好工作的年轻人开始在网吧里挣钱。当其他年轻人在工厂做鞋,他们在网吧打游戏,辛苦的是双眼和手腕,挣来的是约100美元的月薪。他们的挣钱之道就是打魔兽之类的网游,通过杀戮积攒装备和游戏金币。自有商人给这些职业玩家付酬,将他们获得的虚拟物品拿去欧美等发达国家卖给需要它们的玩家,以此兑现。

    此举不难令人想到耳熟能详的Nike赚钱之道:利用中国廉价劳动力进行大批量制造,再在发达国家的市场上卖出,从中牟取巨额利润。这一依靠全球化扩张和劳动力差价的传统制造业内的剥削,看来业已来到数字世界和创意产业领域。只是由于互联网世界的特殊性,引领这一浪剥削潮流的并非现有的大型公司,而是占据一个小小数字领域的生意就可以蓬勃地生存下去的新兴小企业。

    畅销书《世界是扁平》的一文中,幽默而又令人心酸地描绘了美国大企业的“外包”生意,接受这些“外包”工作的是印度的小白领们。他们从事着美国大生意中非核心业务的重复性工作,如电话服务或基本会计工作。因为能拿到比同龄印度人更多的报酬,他们分外珍视这一工作机会,并认为它象征着某种社会地位。其情形堪比中国某些外企从事低级重复性工作的白领,心态也大为类同。细想起来,与这些在网上靠杀戮耕种金币的农夫们,在多个方面有一致之处。不过一些是白领,一些是网吧里嘿嘿傻乐的容易遭人鄙视的“沉溺网络游戏的人”。不知有一天,当这些被称为“金币农夫”的人能赚到外企普通小白领的收入的时候,我国纸质媒体是否还会一边倒地将孩子自杀、杀他人、杀父母等所有罪名加诸网游之上。

    这并非全无可能。在这个后面的是游戏中虚拟装备和货币与现实世界中真实货币的兑换可能。

    2001年,加州大学一名经济学助理教授爱德华•卡斯特拉诺瓦(Edward Castranova),计算了《无尽的任务》的货币单位白金币在真实世界中的价值。根据eBay上的交易情况,他计算出该游戏的虚拟币的价值高于里拉或日元。而通过普通玩家在游戏中通过屠杀怪物获得财富的比率,可以计算出在该游戏中劳作起来,每个小时的“工薪”能兑换到3.42美元。假设我们不算外企白领通常要进行的加班工作,让“金币农夫”们每日工作8小时,每周工作5天,那么在这样规律的工作条件下,月收入亦可达4800多人民币。

    尽管这种虚拟财产的倒卖为一些玩家所不齿,也为一些大型游戏公司所不允许,但一旦人们可以在网上创造价值,那么只要有需求,虚拟价值就可以与现实生活中的货币交换,套现。

    曾经轰动一时的清华学子复制虚拟货币事件,则是更违规的做法。该同学通过duping的复制方式轻松复制虚拟货币,批量廉价卖给国外网站,狠赚了几百万。空子总是有得钻,中国人总是那么机灵。

    在游戏中赚钱,已不是什么新鲜事。娱乐与工作、享受与赚钱之间的界限日益模糊。而围绕这一现象的经济语境和文化语境,倒是值得我们玩味。

  4. on 26 Jan 2007 at 1:58 pm 4.文清 said …

    标题:Should I were evil enough—

    我可以coach and train 大批这种secondlife designer 民工.

    我已经把这个LSL语言简单翻译发布到创业论坛.很多游戏爱好者的3D功底都很强. 这个游戏,对于中国学生,目前最大的门槛是英语.

    一般高中生,学了几行VB, 或者C的学生,英语多么烂,都可以训练来进入这个游戏.

    数量众多的他们, 可以在secondlife里面创造无数的小泡泡—

    secondlife 宇宙常数将重新计算.一切洗牌.

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