UPDATE: You can read more about this story thanks to the Courthouse News website via this link here: http://www.courthousenews.com/2010/12/16/32638.htm
Once upon a time, breeding animals in Second Life was all about chickens and turtles. I knew LOTS of people who suddenly became obsessed by these virtual critters, and they spent a whole load of real life cash nuturing and breeding and raising what was, effectively, a bunch of rather ugly pixels in a virtual universe. I didn’t like them, couldn’t see the appeal and thought it was just a fad.
But then Ozimals appeared, and thus began the time of the breedable mammal. All cuddly and fluffy, these bunnies blazed a trail in setting the new standard for breedable animals in Second Life. I remained unenthused by them, until a friend gave me a pair of my own baskets to hatch…and I was hooked, line and sinker. These beautiful little hoppers led me on all sorts of adventures; I made new friends, made some Lindens and bred some amazing bunnies. Times were good. For a short period, they were the ultimate in-world breedable pet, with auction houses packed to the rafters and customers clamouring for every new breed and shade before gradually, and rather too quickly, the decline started to happen. The grid became choked with bunnies. People made and subsequently lost small fortunes on these hoppers as the bubble burst and prices plummetted, as did the over-all popularity of the product. Other issues came to a head too; once ardent Ozimals supporters became aggravaited by the continual wait for Bunnybury and Socialbun, useful tools which some thought may have helped appease the eventual product decline. It became a no-longer whispered opinion amongst many of my bunny-breeding peers that Ozimals had gotten way too comfortable resting on their laurels and I’m afraid, in a sense, they had. Despite their honourable intentions they had lost focus, and as their vision started to blur Amaretto appeared upon the horizon and started to rake it in with their horses. Bunny breeders, myself included, that once saw the potential of all things small and furry now saw the potential of all things larger and four-legged, combined with a new level of interactivity with a breedable pet that hadn’t existed before ( that’ll be riding then, you perverts) Many breeders, like myself, combined both breeding hobbies, but many more left bunnies behind and went to the Amaretto side of the pasture.
Of course, with this being Second Life where no one seems to be able to learn from previous mistakes, the Amaretto horses rapidly saw their popularity peak and then just as quickly decline in a much more melodramatic fashion than the bunnies ever managed, and despite both products taking stock and issuing new starters and updates to allow for new breeds and traits to be discovered, the truth is their respective markets just aren’t as profitable as before.
And therein lies the rub; because no matter what anyone may tell you otherwise, there is one major motivating reason for all the blood, sweat and tears that are invested in creating a virtual breedable in Second Life, and that is MONEY.
Chickens, turtles, fairies, pigs, plants, fish and most recently cats all need to be purchased, and then fed and nurtured on a continual basis to be successful in the breeding game. If you get lucky you can establish a great breeding line and people will buy off you, which goes some way towards your in-game costs and is a source of great personal satisfaction, but nine times out of ten the money you make goes back into your breedable habit. It’s no wonder that breedable creators are so testy and bitchy about the products produced by their peers (some more than others) If you have the time, the creativity and the scripting abilities you could potentially be onto a winner, as the Ozimals model initially proved, so it’s not hard to see why these tough bunnies won’t go down without a fight.
Today, on the official Ozimals blog, Candy Cervau has posted an extensive and very eloquent explanation regarding the lawsuit that Amaretto have filed in California against Ozimals, in response to the DMCA that has been filed by Ozimals against Amaretto ( You can view Candy’s post at http://blog.ozimals.com/2010/12/regarding-lawsuit-against-ozimals-by.html)
Right from the off, Candy states that “…(We) are NOT claiming and have never claimed to own the idea of a breedable animal..” but what they are miffed about is the alleged ‘cloning’ of their product by Amaretto, and the post goes on to explain in length,the procedure that is currently ongoing , featuring various links to submitted evidence. Once you’ve read that, go get a brew and read the actual court filing that is Amaretto’s response at : http://www.courthousenews.com/2010/12/16/Virtual.pdf It’s worthy of a read, and interesting to note that Ozimals appear to assert (unless I have misread) that the recent decline in their business was as a direct result of the Amaretto horses emergence upon the grid. For what it’s worth, and it’s only my opinion, the Ozimals bunnies product as a whole was in decline before the horses ever appeared, and subsequently BOTH of them have to a certain extent have failed to sustain the level of interest that was originally promised in their halcyon days. Of course there are still a core group of ardent supporters, but I’m sure both would admit, and you only have to look at group chat logs to see the evidence, that the glory days for these breedable products may have already passed (although I would dearly love to be proven wrong on this point) Many a lesson to be learned from the way both parties have conducted themselves there methinks.
It will be VERY interesting to see how each player in this ‘Battle of the Breedables’ responds to this lawsuit, and also what the eventual outcome will be, because it’s not just going to affect these two heavyweight breedable companies but every other breedable that has been and is about to be released onto the grid. In fact, I wouldn’t at all be surprised to see an end to Beta breedable releases for the forseeable future, until this horse v hopper drama is fully played out.
But let there be no doubt, there is a LOT at stake here. The very fact that court proceedings have begun should indicate to you that we’re talking about a very profitable business model that is about to be disseminated and dissected by the courts. That’s exactly what court proceedings do; all the dirty laundry gets aired in public and because this has all taken place in the electronic age, the data will be (hopefully) conveniently time-stamped and accessible to all for scrutiny. It also has the potential to get nasty. Will we see horses disappearing off the grid as a result of the DMCA action, and if so will other pets soon follow?
Such actions would rock the in-world virtual community to the very core, because if this action sets a precedent regarding virtual breedables and they start disappearing from the grid as a result of this, for example, can you imagine the furore and anger this would cause and the bad press that Ozimals could potentially suffer as a result? Think of it this way; if you’ve spent thousands of Linden dollars building up a collection of prized virtual animals that you are rightly proud of and one day you logged in to not see them anymore, you’d be pissed right?
Not for a moment am I suggesting that this situation will become a reality, but then again, what do I know. Well actually, I know this: This is Second Life drama at it’s peak. It’s practically Wiki-leaksesque, and you will need a vat of popcorn and an unbelievably comfortable chair to sit in as this one unfolds.
I for one will be following this drama VERY closely indeed, but right now I have a barnful of bunnies, horse and cats to go and feed….
Watch this space.