Commerce System

Never Sold in Machines

The Commerce System of the VKC®

When you go to a VKC Dog Park, the first thing you will notice is that dogs come from all directions to greet you. “Greeting Leo,” whispers the Australian Shepherd as she sniffs Leo Ligula inquisitively. “Noticed Trenz,” whispers another dog as he trots up to Trenz Pruca. Soon the dogs are all around us performing a variety of tricks. Some are rolling on their backs, others are offering their right paw in a handshake, still others are begging for our attention, and some let out an occasional howl or bark.

Once you have chosen your favorite dog — a task far more difficult than it sounds because they are all unique — you give a quick right-click to pay and a dog promptly appears in your inventory. Pop him or her out of your inventory and your dog appears sporting the name “Pup.” Word spreads quickly throughout the park and soon the new pup is surrounded by inquisitive dogs sniffing their welcome to the new one in their midst.

When they were first brought into existence, the VKC Dogs were sold in a very different manner than they are sold now. Your dog could “breed,” in a sense, so that someone else could buy the “offspring” of your dog. As the owner, you received a commission for the sale. As creator of the dogs, Enrico Genosse received money as well.

For example, imagine that you ran into Wisi Praesen with her Bloodhound Baron on a sim somewhere in the outer reaches of SL. If you liked the dog and wanted one of your own, you would have simply right-clicked on her dog, and a Bloodhound magically would have appeared in your inventory.

Although very interested in scripting and exploring the possibilities of artificial intelligence through his Virtual Kennel Club Dogs, Mr Genosse has a strong interest in exploring the economy. The risks and rewards of the Linden economy are the same as they are in real life. Marketing dogs provides a platform for his exploration.

There is an aspect of SL that is quite different from that of the physical world: you can give away or sell something and still have it yourself. In the original marketing scheme, someone could buy your dog, and you still would have a copy of your dog. The possibilities of multi-level marketing were fascinating to Enrico.

Although buying the offspring of someone’s dog was a very cool way to go, it was not entirely successful. People had to give their their dogs access to their purses, and that made people a bit skittish. After all, who has ever met a dog with a good head for money? Some folks never enabled the marketing feature on their dog. For those who did, the dog occasionally would feel greater loyalty to his owner than to his creator, and all the payment would end up in one account. Most owners were upright citizens who dutifully passed along Mr. Genosse’s share when this occurred, but not all were so honorable.

Giving up on this first marketing idea, Mr. Genosse began thinking of another way. Blu Sparkle and Sandry Logan advised him to avoid the typical SL approach of boxing up the dogs and putting them in vendors. The result is that we now find dogs roaming freely in the VKC parks, enabling one to become acquainted with the dogs and to begin to bond with them emotionally.

Having no idea of what to charge, Mr. Genosse took an experimental approach to pricing the dogs. The first idea was to set prices so that they only increased in response to the popularity of the breed as reflected by sales. Given this plan, dogs would eventually price themselves out of the market and become rare. This idea of dogs becoming rare and unattainably expensive went well with the 19th Century elitist ideals of the original kennel clubs and fit nicely with Mr. Genosse's curiosity about the role of scarcity in an economy. “This was before I saw how people connect to the dogs. … I was surprised by that aspect.” 

For a long time the adoption fees for the dogs would move up and down, not in an effort to create scarcity but as a reflection of popularity. The VKC Dog database was polled every three hours and the fees were adjusted accordingly. “So far as I know, there is nothing like it in SL,” Mr. Genosse says with just a hint of pride in his voice, and rightfully so. Because the prices were managed centrally, at any given moment they were the same in all the parks. This removed the need to go from one park to another in an effort to find the best price.

In December 2010, Mr. Genosse switched to a simple two-tier static pricing model. You can adopt any sculpt-based dog for L$4800 and any prim-based dog for just L$1800! Sculpt-based dogs are: Bichon Frise, Chihuahua, German Shepherd Dog (all colors), Husky (all variations) Jack Russell Terrier, Old English Sheepdog, and Portuguese Water Dog. Prim-based dogs are the earliest VKC dogs. They include: Australian Shepherd, Bloodhound, Chow Chow, Doberman, Irish Wolfhound, Labrador Retriever, Newfoundland, and Rottweiler. Our charitable dog, the Widget, continues at the same L$2000, part of which goes to RL dog-related charities chosen from among suggestions sent in by you and your friends.

In another innovation for the VKC, Mr. Genosse offered the VKC Dogs in the SL Marketplace beginning with the release of the Husky in August 2011.

Drop by your favorite VKC Dog Park to play with the dogs and choose your current favorite. It's for sure you will like the dogs you see there! ❧