New grid uses Bitcoin for payments, gambling

In the past, several grid owners have discussed using Bitcoin, the peer-to-peer cryptocurrency, for in-world payments but, until now, no grid has done so — Bitcoins are typically too volatile to be used within a grid. Instead, most grids that accept Bitcoins for payments use them as an alternative to PayPal or other payment options for currency purchases.

YrGrid's Welcome Center region is a recreation of the gambling district in Macau.

YrGrid’s Welcome Center region is a recreation of the gambling district in Macau.

Now, Hong Kong-based gambling grid YrGrid, a closed commercial grid which launched at the beginning of the year, is using microBitcoins, or uBTC, for in-world commerce. Each uBTC is one-millionth of a Bitcoin.

Each new user gets their own Bitcoin deposit address that they can send Bitcoins to.

My Bitcoin deposit address.

My Bitcoin deposit address.

Users can also load up their avatar’s personal balances through in-world cash machines, powered by Podex. The buy uBTC button in the top right of the viewer window doesn’t work.

Podex cash machines on the Area 51 region.

Podex cash machines on the Area 51 region.

Focus on gambling

It’s clear from the moment you land on the grid’s welcome region that YrGrid is focused on gambling. The welcome region, for example, is a recreation of Macau’s famed gambling district.

A variety of gambling-related vendors are available for sale on the welcome region.

A variety of gambling-related vendors are available for sale on the welcome region.

Checking the map, most users were clustered on the Area 51 region, home to a busy casino, though personally I preferred the ambiance of the Sharkland Gaming region’s casino.

Sharkclub Gaming, another casino on YrGrid.

Sharkclub Gaming, another casino on YrGrid.

And gaming is, in fact, the biggest draw, said Cindy Chidester, the technical director for YrGrid.

“We pulled a bunch of people over here who are unhappy with Second Life’s skill gaming changes,” she told Hypergrid Business. “Creators come, they bring their players.”

YrGrid currently has 55 regions, and 206 registered users. A full 15,000-prim region can be rented for $60, with no setup fee. Non-profits and educators get a 50 percent discount.

Voice chat is not currently available, but the grid is working on it.

“We will be using Mumble once it’s been released by Digital Worlds Group,” Chidester said. “It’s about time there was an open source proximal voice system for OpenSim.”

Hypergrid is also currently not enabled — but that will change.

“We are planning on opening up the Welcome Center and it’s surrounding sims to hypergrid once things have settled down a bit here,” she said. “The virtual Macau is too pretty to keep locked away.”

Welcome Center signage is both in English and Chinese.

Welcome Center signage is both in English and Chinese.

As a brand-new grid, YrGrid still lags behind a bit in content. There are freebie stores on the Welcome Center region, mostly stocked with Linda Kellie items, and a high-end commercial store on the Gr8 Creation region. The Best Mall region is still under development.

YrGrid is operated by Hong Kong-based Universe International Develop Ltd. and Sweden’s Ultimate Gaming Europe AB.

maria@hypergridbusiness.com'

Maria Korolov

Maria Korolov is editor and publisher of Hypergrid Business. She has been a journalist for more than twenty years and has worked for the Chicago Tribune, Reuters, and Computerworld and has reported from over a dozen countries, including Russia and China.

  • hack13

    Its a very awesome grid, I joined and it was very fun to see the grid that really embraces bitcoin 🙂

  • Giulio Prisco

    Very interesting, I was waiting for a grid with a Bitcoin-based economy. I just signed up and I am taking a look.

  • Geir Nøklebye

    Biggest problem with Bitcoin is the supply is too unstable (long term) as the cost of minting has exploded. There are other crypto currencies that are more suitable for a grid economy, but the general idea is interesting. The OMC is already convertible to Bitcoin and actually also L$ to Bitcoin on VirWOX.

  • Geir Nøklebye

    The fact that there is a finite number of 21 million bitcoin that will ever be mined alone makes it unsuitable as a long term virtual currency for a grid that wants to stay in business over time.

    Technically the tangible cost of minting bitcoin has exploded where you a year back still could generate bitcoin on graphics adapter cards with some profitability, now requires very costly ASICS that have an economical lifetime of a few weeks. This has reduced the average operating margin of miners way into the negative as illustrated by this chart https://blockchain.info/charts/miners-operating-profit-margin and it has also served to drive the market price significantly down https://blockchain.info/charts/market-price

    For grid operators and customers who want relative stability, the (wild) fluctuations in market value alone is an issue since customers increasingly have to finance Bitcoin out of their pocket since minting on their own gear is close to impossible. The fluctuations also create all kinds of issues for grid operators and merchants in pricing services and goods.

    My point about the OMC and Bitcoin was that if you want to add the ability for grid customers to participate in the economy of a grid, it is perfectly possible to do so by exchanging Bitcoin to OMC or L$. This leaves the risk of value fluctuations of the Bitcoin on the customer and does not expose the grid operator to this fluidity.

    While the OMC can crash and burn as any virtual currency can, it has the advantage there is no tangible cost in minting it, and since VirWox seem to tie the valuation to the L$, the value will be reasonably stable as long as Linden Lab keeps the value of the L$ stable – as they historically have done.

    Other crypto currencies, that don’t have the 21 million limit, is IMO better suited and also allows currency holders the ability to mint coin on own equipment, thereby lowering the barrier for participation in a virtual economy.