Blue Mars Gives Corporations a Monopoly on Content Creation


   Will players accept very restricted development tools?

We received our strongest hints yet that Avatar's Blue Mars is moving towards an in-world policy that would make large corporations the sole licensed content sellers in their virtual realm.

I spoke with Blue Mars guide Summer Studio about the ins and outs of getting content built in Blue Mars.

As you might recall, our review of Blue Mars praised its graphical beauty and hauntingly realistic character models while slighting it for feeling empty. Now, we don't mean empty in the physical sense. We just felt something was, well, missing from Blue Mars.

That missing something is content creation, and by the look of things, individual users have some serious hoops to jump in order to unlock the modeling power of CryEngine 2.

Living in a Pre-Built World

Many gamers already knew that Blue Mars wasn't going to be Second Life Redux. Pixels and Policy reported back in September that Blue Mars aimed to change how companies interacted with the virtual world by providing them a near-monopoly on content creation and sales. Back then, Glenn Sanders of Avatar wrote us with this to say:

Do we
have an agenda to exclude independent creators? Nothing could be
further from the truth. The vast majority of our registered developers
are individuals or small groups working together.

That was on September 1.Now, a little over a month later, official Blue Mars guides are responding to questions about content creation with the following: Individual users can apply for content creation rights, but "city" creation space and selling rights are reserved for, as Blue Mars guide Summer put it, "large developers."

I was forwarded to the application form. When I asked my Blue Mars guide what Avatar was looking for in applicants, she replied, "Nothing." Doesn't that seem strange to you? If they're not looking for anything specific, why have a registration process at all? When have you ever known a company to add on an entire department of administrative paperwork when they weren't applying a response filter?

When asked more directly why individual creators had to fill out forms of intent and partner with the large corporate creators responsible for building the structures and shops of Blue Mars, my guide deferred.

While I was prodding this poor, overworked intern, another player asked how to create a custom shirt for personal use. Summer suggested he get in contact with the development sources at Avatar Reality, the parent of Blue Mars. He'd have to ask for permission to create personal content.

Big Creators vs. Virtual Entrepreneurs

Blue Mars Online even confirms their stand against individual content creation in a section of their project website: 

Does the Blue Mars client come with content creation tools?

The core Blue Mars client and interface is focused on
enjoying the world through play and interaction, not content creation.

In so many words, the core experience of Blue Mars is for the user to wander through a high-resolution world and enjoy the products and creations of large companies with dedicated content creation teams, who are paying a high premium for a monopoly on digital products.

Companies may think this is a solution to their failure to market in virtual worlds. After all, much of the problem in Second Life is that individual users are taking advantage of an even playing field to create content superior to that of corporations in-world. In truth, this is likely to drive serious players even further from Blue Mars.

Giving large corporations a monopoly on content creation (and, unironically, giving avatars the option to make the money needed for these virtual wares by working for the virtual company) runs afoul of the promise of virtual worlds. Will players log in to Blue Mars to assume the role of store clerks and tour guides?

Would you?

24 thoughts on “Blue Mars Gives Corporations a Monopoly on Content Creation”

  1. While I’m also a huge fan of user content creation, and I’m concerned about to what extent Blue Mars will make it easy, I think you’re overinterpreting the evidence we have so far.
    I think saying that city devs in Blue Mars will be large developers is sort of like saying that private estate owners in Second Life are large landowners. It’s true in a way (owning a city in BM will be a large thing in some sense), but that doesn’t mean you’ll need to be an RL corporation with a legal staff, it just means you have to be willing to make the investment.
    Similarly, when BM says that the “client and interface” are focused on experiencing the world, all they mean is that they’ve decided that content creation will happen via a different set of tools, not part of the standard client. But it doesn’t mean that they’re necessarily going to make the content creation tools hard to get; that remains to be seen.
    I don’t see any evidence so far that Blue Mars is planning on “[g]iving large corporations a monopoly on content creation”. If they do, I will probably become much less interested in their world(s)…

  2. I think there is a paradox between businesses and externally ran virtual worlds. When a company gets you on their website they don’t want to be sending you someplace else. So unless these worlds can integrate into their existing website i think they will only get niche markets with specific focuses that target groups outside their normal customer relationship web sites.

  3. > I don’t see any evidence so far that Blue Mars is planning on “[g]iving large corporations a monopoly on content creation”. If they do, I will probably become much less interested in their world(s)…
    No, I don’t think the intent is to restrict it to large corporations either – but the model is still significantly different to SL’s. It’s restricted, and raising those restrictions is based around you being part of a larger group.
    I’m sure a non-profit, small-profit or educational group would be welcome, but the individual who creates microcontent that is sold in environments where they’re not part of the creating group – that seems to be a model that’s, at best, not really catered for. If you want to produce inworld stuff you have to be part of a group.
    Of course one could go down the usual routes that content creators in other platforms do – contracted builds, selling models and animations, that sort of thing. It’s SL that is the weird platform on this basis, letting just anyone model and script.
    Appropriate creation tools themselves by the way are much more standard than SL’s from all I can see, though the process of importing them may not always be entirely obvious. They’re not in the client certainly.

  4. This piece is a load of tosh. There was nothing that either Glenn or Summer said that warranted that outrageous headline.
    I am creating content, and I am a City Developer, and I am not a corporation (large or small), and neither are the dozens of others like me in the Blue Mars forums and who chat together in Skype.
    A City owner sets the theme for the City, terraforms it, then parcels it into Blocks. That is his job done, unless he wants to be involved further down the chain (as I do).
    A Block is equivalent in size to a SL region, and I will rent them at a fraction of the cost of a SL region. Block ‘owners’ can then develop their Block with their own Editor, and rent out stores and residencies. Store renters will have their own Editor, for uploading content into their stores.
    The reason they have a registration process is, (unlike SL where content theft is rampant, and where griefers can create rubbish and scripts that spew it out, all behind the anonymity of an alt, created with a throwaway email address), Avatar Reality take content theft and griefing very seriously. Only by registering can you introduce content into Blue Mars, If you are then caught copying or griefing in Blue Mars, it will be a real person, not an avatar, with verifiable name, address, tel. no., credit card details etc, that will be banned, and who could be sued through the courts.
    A very poorly written piece.

  5. Rock,
    Sorry you feel that way about the article. My point in quoting Avatar Reality’s Blue Mars FAQ was to point out that content creation for individual users is officially discouraged. This is their line, not mine.
    The system you outline was created with large corps in mind – developing the entire city and deciding who can sell what in it runs counter to the individual-as-creator mindset dominant in games like Second Life.
    It leads me to wonder whether players will be interested in essentially working for someone else and navigating a registration process for the opportunity to create content that can only be sold at the discretion of someone else – with 50% of sales going back to Blue Mars, in some cases.
    So you can see how an individual is effectively barred from profiting on his or her own content unless they get the approval of a higher power (City Developers who exercise say over what individual stores market by way of their landlord power.) It’s an awfully tortuous way to discourage content creation.

  6. PixPol please locate the solid facts in quote that state according to your recollection of ” content creation for individual users is officially discouraged” Ive been VERY active within the community, spoken with many AR employees, one in specific who is working on the tools to ALLOW INDEPENDENT DEVELOPERS to upload into blue mars. Your claims here are so outrageous that they could almost be considered slanderous or libelous just in their assumptions. I am an independent developer, as are a large part of BM residents who are nowhere near a corporation or company of any size and especially no where near what you are suggesting here. Companies will be able to have a high profile existance in BM but in the same manner that an independant city developer will be able to. I completely agree with Rock here, and in my own opinion this is a horrible piece that has misconstrued any currently known news to the worst that it could be twisted to.
    Misrepresentation at this length makes me sick, you wouldnt by any chance be a politician too would you?

  7. Zetsumei,
    Thanks for the comment. I cited Blue Mars’ official project page, which makes it clear that the primary experience of Blue Mars is not/should not be content creation, hence the move to put all content creation external to the platform.
    I’ll have a deeper article tomorrow morning, as the comments and e-mails both pro and con have provided me with a wealth of information.

  8. In what sick demented world does the quoite that you posted mean what you are accusing it of meaning? All they are saying is that the client and the interface are not meant for content creation. Which is true. There are other pieces of software for that. Have you not read the Blue Mars forums or the Blue Mars developer forums? Please read up a bit further and make sure you arent understanding before you go slandering a company which such large misinterpretations as your header implies.

  9. Zetsumei,
    I encourage you to check back tomorrow, when we dig in-depth as to what “external” content creation means for Blue Mars.

  10. Oh and the ENTIRE quote instead of the little snippet you cut out to make your article more ‘juicy’ apparently is this. ” The core Blue Mars client and interface is focused on enjoying the world through play and interaction, not content creation. Rather than force developers to learn new ways to create content through our own proprietary toolset, we support industry standard content creation tools like 3DSMax, Maya, and Flash. ”
    And i don’t need to check back tomorrow to learn from you of all people what external content creation means for Blue Mars because I AM an external creator for blue mars. The quote above is as exactly as it sounds. You create content out of world, upload it into the editor provided, make sure it looks right, then you will upload it into your inventory. Without independent developers, the whole shop system would fail and forgo a massive amount of people. As i pointed out before, please read up thoroughly before accusing.

  11. Zetsumei,
    We take into account the whole quote when analyzing how much those production tools cost – anywhere from $3,000 to $4,000 and quite a bit of technical expertise – certainly not in the range of some small creators.

  12. Blender and Google sketchup can also be used which are entirely free, are extensively detailed with many tutorials throughout the net and any serious creator who wanted to develop for Blue Mars could pick the tools up and in a relatively short while be able to develop something to be sold in a shop in blue mars. Your justifications thus far for the slander have been almost empty at best.

  13. By reading too much into how Blue Mars “is focused on enjoying the world through play and interaction, not content creation.” you kind of defeat the purpose of why that statement was put on the site in the first place. It’s because many users might expect Blue Mars to have in world content creation tools like SL. That’s why it’s stated as such: to make it clear to SL users that it’s not SL.
    So a copy of Max or Maya may not be affordable to small independent content creators who are used to SL. The flip side is that there are already hundreds of thousands of existing Maya and Max users that may have wanted to create content for SL, but didn’t want to deal with SL’s clunky in-world building tools. Those individuals will have a head start in being able to create content for BM.

  14. “My point in quoting Avatar Reality’s Blue Mars FAQ was to point out that content creation for individual users is officially discouraged. This is their line, not mine.”
    YOU are the one that said “content creation for individual users is officially discouraged”. Those words are not in the FAQ. The FAQ simply states that the BM Client will not have content creation tools built in. It says nothing about whether or not private individuals are discouraged from creating their own content.

  15. You might consider to think twice before investing into something such as Blue Mars. There is a lot of other technology currently in development offering the same features as this 3D world for free and almost free.

  16. You’re rather deep in denial, aren’t you? ๐Ÿ™‚
    Content creation for individual users isn’t discouraged. Intentionally or not, you took a quote out of context from the FAQ, and made it mean pretty much the opposite of what it actually means.
    If you write a piece claiming that you have to spend 3-4000 US$ to develop for Blue Mars, you will be wrong again. Go get a price on Blender before you go there…

  17. Look how upset the Blue Mars cult gets when some truth is posted about their content sale system! I can’t wait to beg someone else for the right to sell something I’ve created!
    You can tell this is coming from high up, though from what we know about the founder of the Blue Mars project, he’d shut down a charity for making an open-source Tetris.

  18. On the Blue Mars forums I get accused to being part of thee Second Life cult! ๐Ÿ™‚ Which is probably closer to the truth, really.
    I’m more interested in reports being accurate than I am in which ‘side’ they favor. The statements in this article about the meaning of that FAQ answer, and the stuff about the high cost of the development tools, is simply incorrect. Not because it’s pro- or anti- any particular platform, but because it doesn’t correspond to the truth.
    I guess I am funny that way. ๐Ÿ™‚

  19. Oh, my word, how badly written is this article and how lacking in knowledge this person is.
    I have only been in Blue Mars a few days but have been on the forum for a few weeks and have been watching this platform develop over the last year waiting for the chance to be both a user and a developer.
    Blue Mars is a ‘platform’ – a place where developers will all have new ideas and new environments that will be different and unique to their own projects. Of course it is for large and serious developers! No one wants another in world full of really bad building and a server full of millions of useless items that make it completely horrible to wander around in.
    I applied to be a city developer for a PhD study in Fine Art. Sure, there are costs involved and yes, I have my own personal mountains to climb as a Mac user and this is a Windows platform, but like all serious developers, those are just hurdles. There has been no evidence that I will be rejected as a developer because I am not a corporation. There has been no negativity towards my ideas from the Blue Mars team. And frankly, I hope Blue Mars never goes down the same road as Second Life because if any organisation can be accused of playing to the corporate market it is them.
    And no, I do not belong to any cult.

  20. We at Engulf and Devour Corp are heartily sick of seeing our name disparaged in blogs such as this. Our people will be talking to your people.
    Connie Sec
    Engulf and Devour Corp

  21. Gotta love(hate) wannabe journalist bloggers. I am not a major developer at all. I was able to sign on as a dev, got the tools and such no problem. Blue mars uses outside tools to create. Maya, Blender, lightwave etc. So there are multiple entry points for high and low. Sure it isn’t a platform you create a handful of cubes put it in the sky and call it home. Independent developers are already currently hard at work learning how things work. I realize people like SL and such I am in SL also for 5 years now. But thats no reason to start a BS campaign.

  22. You also have to realize that bloggers did the same to SL. But I do like this article its very informative and I did check it out and do my research and id say that the article here is about 95% right I think most of the average creators will stay within SL because it is so hard to create content for BM im staying with second life because the community here is so much nicer I tried to talk to ppl during the meet and greets in BM and never got anywhere so its SL all the way for me.

  23. Dear, you’re an idiot. Pay more attention more often before you go off making claims. Thanks.

Comments are closed.