I finally decided to explore this new phenomenon in Second Life of real world businesses entering the virtual world of Second Life. It first sparked my interest when I heard about American Apparel entering SL with their own store where they would sell virtual copies of their real life goods. I thought that it was just a fluke until recent news of Adidas entering the fray with their own build and store. I decided to visit both places, check out what they were doing and what this phenomenon was.
The American Apparel build really seems like a huge store made in their design. The build sticks to their slick minimal-modern look, but it seemed very empty and plain (although there are plenty of gratuitous butt shots which I liked!). I was even more surprised when I looked around and saw Aimee Weberâ€™s name and face all over the place, the same owner of Midnight City and Preen had done this build. Midnight City is a robust, bursting with life build even when no one is there (which seems very rare). Sounds of the city emanate throughout, cars and trucks moving, sirens, jackhammer, etc. The American Apparel build was just one huge store. There seems to be a potential for hanging out, with really nicely designed chairs, but there no animations in them as you would expect in most Second Life furniture. There seemed to be the possibility of it being an event space, but I donâ€™t know if it is used in that capacity or not. What would be really interesting would be to have events regularly at the space, bring some Second Life talent to host a party every now and then.
What I did like about the build and the sale pitch. Buy something in Second Life and you can receive a code to purchase something from their online store in real life for 15% off. That may actually get me to an American Apparel store to purchase something!
The Adidas build seems to suffer from the same syndrome but differently. Done by Rivers Run Red (who I met at the SLCC), the Adidas build offers Second Life replicas of their shoes. There are two versions which you can buy for $L50 each. The first being the Microride Astronaut (which donâ€™t seem to fit with my feet) and the second being the Microride High Jumper. The shoes do look very cool, and more importantly they both have actions which you can turn on that perform different functions. For instance if you activate the High Jumperâ€™s, you will bounce up into the sky, when you land you will bounce again; the Astronautâ€™s ability is that you will hover around. The build, looks representative of their brand, and there is plenty of space to bounce around with the new shoes or hover, but that is about it. The space doesnâ€™t seem to lend it self well to other events, or the potential for future development. Once again, another empty build.
As much as I enjoy watching real world companies enter into the digital space of Second Life, I feel that they have to do a bit more than just show up. Host events, parties, offer something more than just a store, pull in world designers together. For instance, Adidas could have easily had a showcase of sneakers, each done by a different in world shoe designer, that included the Astronaut and High Jumpers functions. The American Apparel build could be more than just a store, but a lounge, maybe featuring music from new artists, maybe having events every so often. As nice as these builds are and these ideas are becoming, what is missing is their impact onto the virtual worlds. A lot of these people are seemingly showing up, and that seems to be good enough for them.