VirTec stops selling vending system, still supports old customers

VirTec has stopped selling its products to new merchants, but the company says it will continue to support existing customers of its multi-grid vending system.

VirTec has removed the stands that sell the vending system from the Great Canadian Grid, Genesis MetaVerse, Dynamic Worldz, DigiWorldz, Mobius Grid, ZanGrid, 3rd Life Grid and Kitely, although merchants are still using the vending machines that they’ve already bought to sell products.

The move and decision was due to a job change and the fact that the project was taking up too much time, VirTec owner Virtouse Lilienthal told Hypergrid Business.

However, VirTec will continue offering support to its existing customers, the website will be kept alive for the next few years to come, and VirTec will continue reporting its monthly statistics to Hypergrid Business, he said.

Although Lilienthal is not considering selling part or whole of the operation, he is open to discuss licensing the code. He is already talking to someone who might pick up the business and continue with sales, development and support of VirTec products.

“I considered multiple scenarios and decided that I am open for licensing the code however not for a complete brand takeover,” he said. “Individual products maybe purchased full perm and may be re-branded without the rights of reselling them full permission.”

As of last month, a total of 72 merchants have been using the VirTec vending system on 15 different grids, with $475 in monthly transactions, as we reported recently.

Lilienthal said that the decision to scale back the service was not connected to recent case of illegal distribution of his products and content. Last month, VirTec accused a number of grids and a copybot website of using his products illegally, but the grids later took down the content.

VirTec posted this and other images as a proof that his vendors were being used illegally in a number of grids. (Image courtesy David Kariuki.)

Grid owners surprised, disappointed

Suzan De Konning

ZanGrid owner Suzan Koning-Moennink had been recommending VirTec to her grid’s merchants, and was unpleasantly surprised when she discovered  that VirTec had emptied his shop at the Hypershopping region at hg.zangrid.ch:8002: Hypershopping.

The decision to withdraw without an explanation means he might also not be reliable in providing needed support in the future, Koning-Moennink told Hypergrid Business.

Plus, if he stops regularly logging into the grids where his system is used, he might miss some support requests, she added.

“On some grids internal messaging to mail does not work or  there is a max on the amount of internal messages people can send to each other,” she said. “So he might not even get  a ‘Help Question’ from a costumer.”

The empty VirTec shop at Zangrid. (Image courtesy David Kariuki.)

For now, she recommends that merchants switch to using non-scripted objects to sell products, and use Gloebits as the purchase currency, and the merchants are adjusting well to the changes. And she is working on finding some alternatives for merchants.

“I immediately got in contact with someone who is looking into working on a vendor system for OpenSim compatible with Gloebits,” she said. “But this is in the first phase and I cannot say much about this at this time.”

A vending system offers some advantages over the unscripted object sales because it can track sales and performance and provide other useful functions. However, non-scripted objects are simpler to deploy because the use the built-in OpenSim buying functionality. Plus, there are no limits to the prim size of the products on the Hypershopping region, said Koning-Moennink.

“We gave that region extra memory to be sure the performance is and stays,” she said.

Other grid owners were also concerned about the VirTec news.

The Great Canadian Grid recorded the highest transactions on VirTec’s network last year as we reported in February, but Lilienthal has withdrawn all his products, grid owner Roderick MacDougall told Hypergrid Business.

“I have a feeling we will see VirTec here again soon when he has time,” he said.

Cliff Hopkins

Genesis MetaVerse was one of the top grids for VirTec, with 195 transactions, the highest recorded by an individual grid on the VirTec network last month and the second after InWorldz in terms of spending on the network, but the withdrawal came without any advance warning, Genesis MetaVerse grid owner Cliff Hopkins told Hypergrid Business.

The withdrawal has not affected the grid because they have their own booming economy. Some of the products that were purchased before Lilienthal stopped selling are still in the grid but he is not selling any new ones at the grid. Genesis MetaVerse will release a statement on the same news soon.

VirTec’s ZanMotion shop at Zangrid is now empty. (Image courtesy Zangrid.)

The decision is untimely and can hurt grid reputations, given that VirTec website continues to announce Dynamic Worldz as one of the top four sellers yet it has withdrawn without an explanation, Dynamic Worldz grid owner Danny Cruise told Hypergrid Business.

“One of the things that I am very hot on, is the ability to offer our vendors and users the best possible assurance that their product and trust is well invested in our grid,” he said. “That I as the owner can, with integrity and certainty, say that all product is securely entrusted to us, within the bounds that are made available to us on the OpenSim platform.

Lilienthal had a good product that many came to rely upon, said Cruise.

VirTec acquired this parcel at Mobius grid and was to bring in his products for sale but has not. (Image courtesy David Kariuki.)

Lilienthal acquired a new parcel at Mobius Grid last month and was planning to import his products there but has not to date. Mobius Grid has its own freebie vendor system that uses Gloebit, but was considering buying a copy of Lilienthal’s product for the grid’s freebies hub, but might need to stop the plans because of the news.

The Kitely Market has also carried copies of the vending system for merchants to buy and deploy on any of the 185 — and counting — grids that the market delivers to.

Ilan Tochner

Those listings are now gone and the VirTec storefront has been taken down.

But merchants still have alternative vendors that they can buy on the marketplace, Kitely CEO Ilan Tochner told Hypergrid Business.

“Merchants who wish to use a vendor system instead of an online marketplace can find several such systems on sale in our marketplace,” he said.

Plus, merchants can sell directly on the Kitely Market itself.

“Kitely Market has much better reach and sales volume than VirTec’s vendor system ever had in OpenSim so I imagine merchants will take that into consideration when thinking of alternatives,” said Tochner.

Some merchants also have in-world stands displaying their products, and when customers click on them, they get taken to the Kitely Market listing page.

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David Kariuki

David Kariuki is a technology journalist who has a wide range of experience reporting about modern technology solutions. A graduate of Kenya's Moi University, he also writes for Cleanleap, and has previously worked for Resources Quarterly and Construction Review.

  • Fanny

    Ah, the old “project was taking up too much time – lets pull the plug” game. It never gets old does it?

  • Cinder Biscuits

    This article would be a lot more readable if all the quotes had quotation marks around them. :/

    • The quotes are showing up okay in my browser — what browser are you using?

      • Cinder Biscuits

        Safari, Chrome on Mac, Chrome on OSX, Firefox, and Edge. This isn’t a browser issue. https://uploads.disquscdn.com/images/5ad12e63644cd16e30deb8956d67ee037ad17fc495c9d33a1285136ad37d26a5.png

        • That’s because those are paraphrases, not direct quotes. We put things in quotation marks if that’s exactly what the people said, and we print things without quotation marks if we had to change the the quotes so that they make sense in context, or if we had to take a lot of asides out from the middle, etc…

          Our house style is that inside quotation marks we make minor changes — fix tenses, take out “ahums”, fix pronouns, that kind of thing. Sometimes, if the person isn’t a native English speaker, we will do more grammar fixes. After all, we (the writers) get copyediting to fix our mistakes, it’s only fair to fix typos by our sources.

          If we have to rearrange sentences or put pieces of different sentences together, we don’t want to make it sound like those are the person’s exact words. But we still try to make sure to get the meaning right. (If not, we’ll immediately run a correction.)

          (This is the standard AP Stylebook recommendation, which our stylebook is based on.)

          • Cinder Biscuits

            Right, however the clauses being used when paraphrasing and the way it skips back and forth between quote and paraphrase is somewhat jarring.

          • Unfortunately, that’s one of the problems with the inverted pyramid, AP News kind of writing style. It’s a little disconnected and weird — it has its own form of rhythm. It was originally developed so that copydesks could cut out any particular section of the story and the rest of it would still be more-or-less okay. That was back in the days of physical type or manual paste-up. And it kind of stuck, like the old typewriter layouts. The hip young generation of writers is moving away from that, but I’m a tired old grumpy person who just can’t understand why everyone is wearing their pants so low and get off my lawn, you pesky kids!

            You know, when I was starting out in journalism — this was back in the day before we had all this new-fangled electricity and push-button phones and what not — we were glad if we got to see any quotation marks at all! Yup, back then, quotation marks were rationed. We were saving them for the war effort. You young people don’t know how good you’ve got it these days.

            And were weren’t allowed to use any long words. Nope, those were only for senior columnists. And we could only use “said.” We couldn’t use any synonyms or nothing. No “commented” or “replied.” Nothing like that. If you did, an editor would come over and hit you on the head with a typewriter. And we were glad for it, too! Those $5 a week wages meant we could buy some gruel to eat that week.

          • Dykoda Desmoulins

            I’m not sure what it says about my intellect, but I had no trouble at all reading and understanding the article. I will say that I’m grateful to have these articles to keep me informed, as I’m not always as connected with ‘those in the know’ as I might sometimes like to be =)

          • Cinder Biscuits

            I will admit, I don’t have the discipline for AP’s style guide. I like my superfluous sprinkling of commas far too much, and dammit, I need the Oxford comma even more.

          • This is where the rumpled old editor comes in, standing behind you with a typewriter and a hangover, ready to whack you on the head.

          • Cinder Biscuits

            Thankfully, a dangling modifier softens the blow.

          • LOL

  • Dykoda Desmoulins

    I’ve known Virtouse quite awhile, close to 3 years, I guess, and although I only know him from our online/in-world dealings, I know him well enough to say that he isn’t the type to ‘pull the plug’ unless there is a good reason. I won’t share my knowledge of his personal/1st life any more than to say that I know he has a great deal going on.

    • Suz Blessed

      I also think he must have a good reason to leave, however I also think that it is appreciated to notify the grid owners/technicians and costumers when you plan on doing so. We do not need to know the reason why. That is not important at all, he can have his privacy. But it would have been nice to know and not be surprised. Sorry but this is the way I am raised 🙂

      • Dykoda Desmoulins

        I definitely agree that giving notice is the best way to handle leaving, but I also understand that sometimes circumstances simply do not allow for advance notice.

  • Da Hayward

    Very sad news I guess this type of thing happens when a certain grid owner gets people paranoid about content theft.
    But Best of luck to Virtouse and hopefully when rl pressures ease he will be back

    • Cinder Biscuits

      Virtouse stated that this wasn’t connected to the content theft recently.

      • Da Hayward

        probably.

        • Cinder Biscuits

          Probably? It’s right there in the article.

          • Da Hayward

            yes it is bit i still think it had some bearing in his decision and who can blame him.

          • Cinder Biscuits

            In other words, you think Virtouse isn’t being honest. Interesting perspective. Hmm..

  • Thelma Marks

    This is horrible news 🙁

  • That would affect creators without vendor boards and it impossible for them to find one that can work! I bought scrolling board from virtec and itt now harder to find one that similar two. Scrolling board and also event board. Virtec really let them down.

  • What a shame. Virtec has some very nice products that I like using on my grid.

  • Da Hayward

    where did i say Virtouse is lying? I stated an opinion take it or leave it!

    • Cinder Biscuits

      Take a look at what you’re saying, hun. You’re spinning the narrative into what you want it to be rather than what is reported.

      • Da Hayward

        no actually i do acknowledge, what Virtous said about real life job taken the majority of his attention now and I sincerely wish him well, my dealings with him have always been pleasant and I believe he is a real good chap. All I was saying was there could be other factors that impacted on his decision as well. I am hoping when things settle into place in rl he will find the time to come back to open sim, I have no issue in saying he is always welcome on our regions. I am not implying he is lying or that the article is incorrect.

        • Cinder Biscuits

          Other factors that impacted that he has said didn’t impact his decision. Uh huh, yep. lol Pretty sure he closed shop because his goose laid a golden egg and now he’s super rich.

          • Da Hayward

            ooohhh. lucky bugger. I’ll have to find that goose. LOL

  • Carlos Loff

    There is sonething I don’t understand and please fogive me for being so naive – When we buy a working product, why do we need the creator to stay up running business ??? Does Vir Tec run special servers for the vendors to keep working ? When someone in Opensim buys a scripted vendor it is needed to think about a long life business creator before ? I have many fine scripted working gadgets that do not have active business creators for years

    • Suz Blessed

      Some items needs updates at times, for example when grids change their money module or OS version they run on. Like rental systems and vendors.

      • And some report back to home base for stats, web-based monitoring tools, updates, and other functionality and if the home base server is gone, all the related items break.

        • Suz Blessed

          Indeed:)

          • Dykoda Desmoulins

            I was about to start this off with an apology to anyone it seems I may have offended, but honestly, I don’t feel like I said anything that deserves an apology. I’m not entirely sure why my statement stirred up the response I got, so I’m going to offer one last post and I’m done lol. First and foremost, I was trying to add a little humor…epic fail, obviously. I was referring to a small group of people of which I am one — housewives with little to no business experience/training, who are looking to make a little spending money, to help support excessive VW shopping. I never said we were the only ones, nor did I say ALL housewives.

            I would like to add, before I close, I honestly don’t understand the bitter feelings toward VirTec, or toward anyone who decides to walk away from virtual worlds, regardless of the reason, but especially if it’s to devote more attention to their real life. According to David’s article, Virtouse is offering far more than the majority of business owners who have left virtual worlds, and in fact, even mentioned that he is in talks with someone who may continue with the sales, development, and service of VirTec products.

          • Da Hayward

            Just for the record I thought your comments were great Dykoda

          • Suz Blessed

            I do not have bitter feelings against Virtec at all. I know Virtouse as some one who always helped and gave good costumer support. I just fear, taken the fact that he might not receive the ‘Help questions’ due to technical reasons in OpenSim he will not be aware of people having issues and asking help. And to help people in those cases he would need to log on to the grids and check his IM in world. And maybe due to his new activities he might not be able to do so. We sure will miss him and lets hope maybe one day he will return !
            And really Dykoda no apologies needed at all 🙂

        • Carlos Loff

          Ok, I see, so what is the future solution ? Purchase only from creators that promise a lifetime customer support ? Achieve a unified OS code with no major changes ? Keep buying new tools and let creators operate on that base ?

          • Dykoda Desmoulins

            The merchant who makes the ‘lifetime customer support’ promise, or the customer who believes it…who’s the bigger fool? (just being facetious lol, but I couldn’t resist lol)

            Kidding aside though, that’s a very good question–what -is- the solution?

          • First, look for vendors who consider their business a real business and not a virtual business. Check to see if they have a real, physical address listed, a real contact phone number, and show the names of the actual, real people working there. You are, after all, giving them real money. It’s a major step for some providers to move up from virtual, anonymous, operating-as-their-avatar status. If they do, it shows a serious commitment to their company. If they do harm, it will have actual repercussion on their real-world identity.

            Second, look for vendors that have teams of more than one person, so that the company won’t instantly fold if something happens to that one guy.

            Third, ask about their processes. Do they have a sustainable business model? Do they keep good backups? Do they have a professional support process in place?

            Finally, ask for customer references and contact them.

            If a vendor satisfies all these criteria, it doesn’t guarantee that they’ll stay in business for ever, but it does increase the odds.

            Obviously, most people won’t go through all the steps. But the more significant the commitment you’re about to make, the more due diligence you should be doing.

          • Dykoda Desmoulins

            Very good advice, Maria! Many merchants in virtual worlds don’t think about things like this (yes, I’m one of those =D). To many, this may seem so obvious, but many are just housewives with little to no business experience/training, who are looking to make a little spending money, to help support excessive VW shopping….er, I mean, so I’ve heard.

          • I write about enterprise risk, compliance and security issues at my day job — I’ve been covering this area for about twenty years. When companies are deciding which vendors to do business with, these are the kinds of things they look for. But the part about real/avatar — that’s pretty much unique to SL and OpenSim. I can’t think of many other contexts in which one business is buying a necessary, long-term service from another business, and doesn’t know the other’s real identity.

            Companies do buy one-off items from anonymous or pseudonymous sellers, though, like stuff on eBay or other marketplaces. In these cases, they look at the seller ratings, and, for high-ticket items, pay through an escrow service. In OpenSim, the closest equivalent to that is the Kitely Market. But that’s for one-off items. An established, well-rated virtual shop may stay in business longer than a new or badly-rated one, but not to a significant degree. It’s hard to tell if a virtual shop is a one-man operation, for example, and if it’s a part-time hobby for just one person it’s just as likely to close down at any moment, or close to it.

          • Suz Blessed

            Sorry but have to say: ‘Just Housewives’….. What do you mean with ‘Just Housewives’ Not only housewives have no experience or training. Many people also do not check if the grid they join is registered and running legal. In fact I know housewives who do check on things. Lots of housewives are great managers:) Raising the new generation which is a hell of a job to do. Merchants in general should be careful who they trust their assets to. And costumers also should be careful from who they buy from. Buying illegal copied items or take free offered illegal copied items is illegal as well. Do you buy a stolen car in rl ? Don’t you check first if the company you buy from is trustworthy or not? People should do the same in virtual worlds. And believe me not only housewives do not check.

          • What about househusbands? Is everybody forgetting about them?? Also, house-grandparents. Turns out, my 90-year-old grandma is pretty tech savvy. 🙂

          • Suz Blessed

            LOL, yes right Maria 🙂 Lets not forget the pappa’s 🙂

          • I never forget househusbands…and cabana boys, I don’t forget them either……..

          • Carlos Loff

            Maybe just look for a more simple product and make sure, although having less functionalities, it will last longer, or else doing like with iPhones, pay a huge ammount every year, 5, 6, 7, for something folks only use for 12 months

  • Fli Girl

    Shame really like Vir Tec products.. But wish him well.

  • Dykoda Desmoulins

    I understand what you guys are saying, and as a user of several VirTec products myself, as well as a friend of Virtouse, I hate as much as anyone to see him go. However, it seems like many are upset at him for choosing his ‘real life’ over virtual worlds and that doesn’t seem fair, and is very sad to me. Yes, it does put some people out a bit when someone with a product like his decides to close shop, however, he did state that he would continue to support his customers, and that the website will continue for quite awhile, years in fact. If people are unhappy about his decision, he’s given more than enough time to find alternate sales tools/vendors. While his vendors do offer things that very few offer, there are a number of other vendors available, and people have used those successfully for many years prior to VirTec’s vendors. We should also consider the fact that very few, if any, know all the details that led to his decision. Virtual worlds may be top priority for some, but for many, it isn’t, and sometimes people have to move on.

    • Da Hayward

      well said. Wishing Virtouse all the best.

  • I don’t think the problem is real live vs. virtual life, since companies close down for many reasons, and it does happen that they close without warning. A promise of lifetime support is an empty promise if the company making it disappears.

    It’s a problem for anyone choosing a vendor that they must rely on, and enterprises have to make this decision all the time when a particular vendor’s products are important to the operation.

    They have a long list of things to watch out for, like funding, and whether the product is a core product for the vendor, but one is particularly relevant to OpenSim, and that is the number of team members.

    If the vendor is a one-person operation, and something happens to that person, then the company disappears. If there’s a team behind a product or service, then if one person becomes unavailable for whatever reason, the company can still continue operations. We’ve recently seen this happen at AviWorlds, for example — everything hinges on just one guy, and things keep happening to that guy, and each time they do, everything collapses.

  • Woopsee

    this is why you should always secure your scripts if they communicate with a server.

  • I think anyone who has participated in an inworld project or group can understand how difficult it can be balancing RL and VR responsibilities. Having met Virtouse numerous time I am sure he will meet his pledge of maintaining support.

    It does raise some interesting issues around running any sort of business in VR. Many customers expect business level support, whereas many creators view their store as a hobby.

    It came out recently that I was the top grossing merchant on the Kitely Market. Let me assure you, this was entirely accidental! But even when added to my SL store, it amounts to not even a quarter of a living wage. 10k sounds like a lot, but spread over 3 years, it isnt really. I would love for it to be otherwise, but that basically means I need a full-time gig to get by.

    People who do shop at my store will have noticed that recently my new releases have been few and far between. This is because my RL job keeps me more and more predisposed these days. Luckily, most of my current products are straightforward enough that very few people ask for support. But I would really think twice these days before releasing a product I thought would require ongoing support or me being in-world to help people.

    What am I trying to say?

    Merchants – Think long and hard about releasing complex products that may require support. You never know where life will take you. And something that seems cool on paper might actually not be much fun to support.

    Customers – Be a bit more realistic in your support expectations. You do of course have a right to support, but most Merchants are just doing this in their spare time. if your going into business yourself, try not to base it on someone else’s tech which may or may not exist in the future.