Immersive Reality closing due to regulations, lack of interest

Immersive Reality Welcome Center. (Image courtesy Immersive Reality.)

The Immersive Reality grid, founded in late 2014, will close at the end of April due to new regulations and a lack of interest, owner Bob Reite announced yesterday.

Land and currency sales will cease immediately, but the grid’s free land offer will continue until the end of April, Reite told Hypergrid Business. “We are still letting people play with that until the day we close the grid.”

Region owners will be offered an OAR export of their builds that they can take to other grids. Many grids, including Kitely and DigiWorldz, as well as independent hosting providers like Dreamland Metaverse and Oliveira, offer OAR imports, meaning that users can move their entire regions over. Those running home-based regions or grids can use the OpenSim console Load OAR command to import a full region file.

The only user who had an outstanding balance in the grid’s IR$ virtual currency has already received a refund, Reite said.

Inventory exports in the form of IAR files may also be available, he added, though he’s had problems with the exports in the past.

“Users can request an IAR export, but it is not guaranteed to be usable,” he said.

New regulations

The major reason for the shutdown is the new European General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR), said Reite, who is also known as Tom Wyoming in-world.

“It is our opinion that OpenSimulator as currently offered, especially the currency module, is not secure enough to meet the requirements of
the new regulations,” he said. “We do not have time to develop new code to meet those requirements.”

Immersive Reality uses the IR$ local currency.

Switching to a fully external currency, like Gloebit, would address some but not all of the issues, he said. To start with, the Gloebit currency is fully convertible, but, as a gambling grid, IR$ have to be non-convertible.

“And while switching to Gloebit might resolve some security issues, there is still the problem with collecting personally identifiable information,
in this case an email address,” he added.

GDPR requires that European users have to offer informed consent before their personal data is collected, to encrypt personal data that is stored, and to offer users the option to delete all their data if they want.

“Although some have suggested configuring a firewall to block known European IP addresses, that would be a lot of work and we feel that it’s
just better to close down the whole grid before the regulations go into effect,” he said.

Once the grid closes down, he said, the database will be erased and all personal information permanently deleted.

Lack of users

Reite also cited a lack of interest in the grid as one of the motivating factors for the closing.

The grid peaked at 24 active monthly users in May of 2016, and has reported a dozen or fewer actives each month for the past year.

This despite the grid’s free land offer, which has been featured on the Hypergrid Business Free land in OpenSim page.

Reite will maintain a small presence in OpenSim, however, with the Boom Town 2 region on OSgrid, with his “Tom Wyoming” avatar name.

Maria Korolov