Sion Chickens Creator Named Finalist For Linden Prize

It came to my attention today that Sion Chickens, Second Life’s first breedable AI pet have been named a finalist in this years Linden Prize Award, which is an endowment of $10,000 USD given by the makers of Second Life, Linden Lab to those who have exemplified innovation in various fields.

Congratulations to Sion for his achievement!

Unfortunately, it also came to my attention that Linden Lab linked to this blog, apparently mistaking it for Sion’s official website. To those who’ve come here by that link, please take note:

This website is not affiliated with Sion or any breedable pet creator on the Second Life platform and is independently kept for the basis of exploration of industry and market study and analysis.

I have written to Linden Lab asking them to direct the link to one more appropriate. I imagine they came across the same crux as I have; the inability to locate an official site.

That said, we here at the Chicken Blog wish Sion the best of luck and the heartiest congratulations!

Report: Sion’s Chickens Boosted SL Economy

In Linden Lab’s recent economic report, as initially reported by Second Life webrag New World Notes, The Sion chicken craze had injected the Linden economy with a mights strong dose of stimulus during 2009. The report indicates Sion’s feathered pets brought in more that 60,000 new users into the economy, and goes on to speculate further that the virtual pet Godfather took home a check boasting six figures during one month!

No one should be surprised now why so many other developers were eager to come in and pick up where he left off! However, to be clear, I find it incredibly tack to discuss monetary figures here. We don’t have access to records, we have no materials, charts or graphs to look at – thats why I say, regardless of the New World Notes report that, while it definitely made it’s mark on the economy, figures are speculative – and none of our beeswax!

That said, I do often discuss the prices of the products and am not afraid to lay my opinion down on the table while inviting you do the same. I discuss the business models with the information made publicly available, their impact on the industry itself, as well as the secondary market and examine there directions. I think that it’s needless to say, whatever numbers hover above the amount line on their checks is a topic not up for discussion. I’ve not seen anyone make estimations on the real life gross incomes of other high profile businesses in Second Life, why should the pet industry participants subjected?

I think it’s sufficient to say that we can count this instance as yet another unexpected repercussion from Sion’s amazing invention!

The Saga of Sion

We’re well into the year 2010 now, and Sion Zaius has all but vanished from the virtual world radar. The chicken community shrunk by considerable numbers, and everyone has had time to reflect on the era that was defined by Mr. Zaius himself.

While much has changed in the industry of virtual pets, much remains the same. Sion Zaius remains the dominating influence of all pets that have followed in his footsteps. He is the mind behind the devices we use whether the immediate creator or not. He is responsible for the Chickens, which became the first viral artificially intelligent breeding pet on the virtual plain. He is responsible for influencing the business models (And oftentimes, the product execution) of those who came after. He’s responsible for the derivative creators who made toys, vendors and various paraphernalia. He’s also responsible for success of Land Owners and developers who’ve come to cater explicitly to virtual pet farmers. He’s responsible for creating more than just a chicken, he’s responsible for an entire flourishing industry.

And, he’s all but disappeared.

The introduction of higher end, more cost effective and technologically advanced pets have deeply impacted the once booming business of chickens. And despite numerous ethically questionable decisions and public outbursts, he maintained a long stand against the inevitable public backlash.

Now the chicken industry and their creator, the granddaddy of them all, stand in the shadow of their successors. The money stopped flowing, the updates stopped coming, the introduction of new content came to a halt. Now, after nearly half a year, I’ve decided to revisit the past and find out what happened?

It’s safe to say that, in the beginning, Sion had no idea the life his chicken industry would take on it’s own. It was a game he crated for individuals to play passively, to sell and trade eggs on an open market, and to enjoy the process of a cooperative activity. He did not foresee it becoming one of the most monumental successes of all time, nor could he possibly know how it would evolve in the hands of the community – his customers. He did not know people would become reliant on it for income, or that farmers would rear hundreds of chickens and reap hundreds of eggs per day and consider it a business rather than a hobby. He did not expect that suddenly he would be at the helm of the largest economic tentpoles outside Second Life’s fashion industry, nor did he possess any awareness that thousands upon thousand would hold him personally accountable for their losses or misfortunes be they at the devices of a performance challenged sim or self-professed chicken killers who actively sought to murder the stock of farmers.

When events occurred beyond Sions immediate control- things such as Chickens going off world and returned to inventory, or griefers targeting and attacking a customers farm – when people sought accountability, the went directly to the door of the maker – Even when blame was grossly misplaced. Business owners who placed their entire operations on raising and harvesting chickens and eggs felt that Sion was the one directly responsible for any incurred financial losses they suffered, even in events of server outages. It was Sion who had people pounding on his door for answers.

For a man who had only believed he was creating a modest game for people to play, it became a living, breathing nightmare. As real life money began exchanging hands is startling sums between breeders, when something went wrong, it was Sion they wanted accountability – and refunds from.

Sion Zaius is a young college student whose first language is not english. He’s described as “painfully shy” by those who know him. He was an ordinary young man in extraordinary circumstances, but the burden of what was expected from him alone knew no mercy. In recourse, he tried several tactics: He became emotional, frustrated and once threatened to halt the sale of chicken food, starving chickens all over the grid if one resident refused to apologize for threatening a lawsuit against him for fraud. Ultimately, he never did stop the sale of food. Later, he created an unenforcable EULA which created havoc in the community and the Second Life blogs and left many of his customers outraged by it’s delivery. Suddenly there was a license which they felt left them defenseless against any maligned business practices. It was one-sided and bound the buyer completely. In his efforts for mercy, he was merciless. As a result, people left. They moved on to the new AI pets popping up in the marketplace that promised bigger and better things.

Sion released a statement after the impact on his business was obvious through diminishing sales, announcing the development of a new product under the SionLabs brand, SionLife which would allow customer to create their very own breedable pets. It was one of the last times the residents of Second Life involved in the chicken community heard directly from Sion. While the group was maintained by his two customer service reps, Sion seemed to vanish, and has since rarely been seen or heard from. His chickens have not seen an update or new content in half a year now.

I was one of Sion’s most challenging critics. I wrote, in depth, about some of his most fumbling missteps. I highlighted his lack of communication with his community. I blogged about his quiet tweaking behind the scenes which resulted in hundreds of Ancients being deleted. I felt it necessary that a platform be developed by people to speak freely and without consequence on the actions of a man so many relied on. But I am not afraid to ask myself, and you, if we relied to heavily.

I’m not asking if, in specific incidents, Sion was right or wrong. I’m asking if perhaps it was to much too soon for a single, unassuming young student in college to readily endure success, demands, public scrutiny, public service with complete rationale. I don’t think I would have been able too.  In fact, to be completely honest, I wasn’t either.

At 20 I made the move to Hollywood. I was the toast of my town, an award winning writer, published and produced author. I had an agent. I was from a small town in the middle of nowhere and had achieved an incredible amount in my young years. I made a big move, found myself in a corrupted world of extreme competition, was chased around a poolside by a half naked producer, I was the victim of real life content theft by powerful players, and the pressure was inconceivable. By 23 I ran back home to mother, clearly unprepared, despite my self confidence, in what rough waters one must traverse in the real world of business. Success, to a point, is a massive achievement. The concept, to our nature, sounds so beautiful and validating. When success becomes so intense that is spirals out of your own control and becomes something else altogether, it can be terrifying. And lets face it, Second Life isn’t a world where people are known for their cool heads and rational behavior, as I’m sure any business owner or customer service rep can tell you. What the trifecta of Sion and his two hired helping hands endured at the hands of an immersed community far outnumbering themselves is left only to our imaginations, but you can imagine…

I believe that Sion Zaius has deliberately moved away from his own industry, putting ample space between himself and what had become an incredibly challenging obligation of his own making. Sort of like Doctor Frankenstein and his own Monster. It wasn’t what he expected nor intended, but the consequences were heavy a reached deep into the community of players. While the money was quite possibly glorious, the price paid was steep. When people were happy with him, they were very happy, but when they were angry.. it was one against thousands.

I was curious about the status of SionLife – for those of you wondering why this blog has been so quiet for so long, it was because the chicken industry and sions himself- the reason I began this adventure in study, had also gone quiet. It is never easy being in the court of public opinion. I can say that from fair experience. Some people are overwhelmingly kind, and some people are vicious without remorse. Rarely is there an in-between. When something you do becomes public, when people possess an awareness, they are entitles to that opinion, to share it indiscriminately.  It doesn’t have to be altogether positive as no one is obligated to provide that courtesy. When we willfully place something into public domain for whatever reason, for others to develop an opinion and share it, for them to make statements fair or unfair, is their entitlement. Quite often, those that are the subject find the environment far to difficult to breathe in, and they’re scared away- they withdraw.

It is my hope that Sion will return, in his time, with his lessons learned, bigger, better and proud of his accomplishments. People make mistakes, people learn from them. More often than not, people aren’t asked to repent for those tresspasses to thousands of others holding them to a cross for those mistakes. His case is unique. Considerations are necessary. Regardless of the past, no one can question his innovation, or his accomplishments.

Sion Prepares to Rattle the Cage

Has there ever been any question that Sion Zaius is perhaps one of the most brilliant minds on the grid? Business wise, he’s made a virtual killing from his now (in)famous SionChickens, and his keen business senses are not to be bawked at. Few people could achieve what he has in as little time. He was the creator of more than just a chicken, but of an entire industry that is growing daily. We have seen Turtles, two different breedable bunnies, coming soon are Dragons, Pigs, cats and Dog and, yes, even horses! People see the tremendous value of the industry, the huge economic upswing it creates in the direction of the creator, and virtual everyone wants a piece of the pie… and in the most shocking turn of events….

Sion is about to give it to you.

Never did I imagine that it would come to this! It’s both unexpected and exciting and it throws every industry player, even those who thought they had foolproof business plans into question. Sion is going to give YOU the ability to create and distribute your own line of virtual pets.

Now, this sounds like it could be HUGE! But lets not get excited. Just stop for a moment, take a breathe and remember the guy we’re dealing with here hasn’t got the best track record, and how he is implementing this is yet to be seen, but lets face it, with an announcement like this, it definitely puts the ball in his court. Sion could literally decimate his competitors in the field with devising such a framework that would allow you, your cousin Ethel and your Brother Jimmy all to create your own virtual pets.

Now, on the same token this could very well just fizzle in the pan if he, lets say, doesn’t REALLY allow you to create your own pets, but instead something form his catalog of his recently announced SionLife. In this instance, the products still remain Sions, and they aren’t really yours. It could also be that he’ll let you create something with your own prims but he will be the only supplier of food or some other dependency that only he can provide.

However, if it is truly as it sounds, really and truly as it was announced, then he is a genius. Perhaps he is going to license his technology to you under his SionLabs banner which will allow you to utilize his scripts in your own breedable pets. Let’s face it, the only thing in more demand than the rarest of the rare pets themselves are the technology behind them. How many people have YOU met that have their own idea or concept for a breedable pet that they’d love to make if they could, if they knew how, if they had a scripter, ect….

If Sion decides to license his technology or create a derivative of it and introduces it to the Market, we will see a massive influx of breedable pets that will potentially match wits with all of Sion’s present and future competitors, and he will be the only one still raking in the dough from his licensing fees. Meanwhile, bunnies and turtles could find themselves sharing shelf space with frogs, butterflies and just about anything else you can think of. This would spread the secondary market so thin that our primary providers would find what once seemed a guaranteed succeess suddenly becomes an uphill battle. The entire relationship between providers and community could change in one fell swoop and suddenly it won’t be enough for a provider to put something out that simply eats and procreates – they would have to rethink their entire structure to offer something truly unique, something that no one else is providing but everyone wants.

Simmer on that for a moment. “Something no one else is providing, but everyone wants.” Sion did that once. He gave the entire grid breedable pets that went viral in a short amount of time. And now that he has direct competitors, what else would a brilliant man offer that demographic that the others aren’t? That’s right. The ability to create their own via a system only he is willing to provide. It will change the face of the entire industry over night if he does it properly. But if Sion is only thinking of Sion, and he decides to someone maintain his ethose of “I’m the only one who should be making money” and only give the you impression that you can create buts, but actually provide you with premade ones, or allow you to chose from a category of SionLife pets… well, his demographic has had enough experience to recognize the ploy and his competitors are safe. But the ball is in his court, and it could be that the fate of the future of industry as we know it is too. Will he pass down a blessing of a product by allowing users to license his technology to make their own pets, or will he remain all Sion-centric and gouge potential users for ever virtual dollar he can while he hangs onto his position in the industry by his fingernails.

Sion stands is quite a powerful place at this very moment, oddly enough, the very place he began. This maneuver could reposition him as the figure to be reckoned with once again.  No longer will other pet developers be competing with him for business, they’ll be competing with possibly hundreds of you, and Sion will be the only one providing the board on which to play upon – Genius, could be!

The choice is really his, and until he releases more information, he holds all the cards.

Sion: Let’s Reduces Prices!!

Well, as much as I’d love to tell you that this was an unexpected turn of events, it’s actually been a long time coming. Today, moments ago in fact, Sion released a statement through his Official Representative that Sion Products are going to be reduced. Here is the statement.

“Greetings to all of our sionChicken and sionCorn community!

I have some wonderful news for you!

To show my appreciation for your continued loyal support in investing in great Sion Labs products

AND

In celebration of the upcoming release of sionLife, I am pleased to announce a special price reduction on some of the current products:

sionChicken Food Set:
New Price: L$    190              Old Price: L$    240

sionChicken Food Set for Breeders:
New Price: L$  1190              Old Price: L$ 1440

Large Fertlizer For Sprinklers:
New Price: L$     390               Old Price: L$   490

Have fun with the classic sionChicken and sionCorn projects!

Sion Zaius
Sion Labs”

There you have it, ladies and gentlemen. It is a sure sign of the times. Sion has seen the promising new pets waiting in the wings to fill his costly shoes and he’s having none of it! He’s thrown down the gauntlet and has, in a pretty startling move, reduced his prices BELOW that of his current and upcoming competitors – now we can’t work Turtles into this equation because, of course, the only player expense with Turtles is food and dishes, but he did price himself below that of the upcoming Ozimals which will make Candy & Teams darling little bunnies officially the most costly to maintain on the Market so far – that is possibly until HunnyBunny announces their pricelist for fringe products.

This announcement comes right on the heels of Sion’s latest major press release regarding his bio-diverse line of animals coming out in the future called SionLife, some of which will be free to maintain. Yes, I said free. This is really an interesting time in the Pixel Pet industry, and if the Grand-Daddy of them all felt the virtual earth shift enough to slash his prices, something tells me he is determined to stay in the running. And that’s an excellent sign! We all are well aware how hypercreative and brilliant he is, I’ll be fascinated to see if he stays on this track – or – throws you a massive bait and switch by charging you double for his new products – or, in typical Sion Fashion, charging you an arm and a leg for their multiple dependencies, which is a growing trend in this industry.

I notice how he calls them “CLASSIC SionChicken & Sion Corn products.” That wording scares me to be honest. It suggests that there is a potential here for him to make his new line of products Premium – as in, more $$$. When anything is called Classic, it indicates that it is old, outdated, a less optimized experience. I hope that his motivation for lowering prices was indeed to stay relevant in the marketplace, and not to suddenly throw out a clone of the chickens with more bells and whistles that costs you twice what chickens did to begin with. Past experiences, as many chicken farmers will attest, a kiss on the nose from Sion is usually followed by a painful uppercut to the chin that leaves users flat on their back and in shock. If i sound cynical, I apologize, but trust me, it is not for the sake of simply being so.

I hope that Sion recognizes, for his own sake, the mistakes he has made. Only then can he move toward resolve. I want truly to believe that he understands that maintenance for Chickens in the face of current critters would be deemed a bit excessive, and that is why he has priced himself below the Ozimals brand. Of course, it could also be due to the fact that he acknowledges that his SionChickens are disparate in quality, cosmetically anyhow, to the high end Ozimals.

One thing Sion has going for him that Ozimals doesn’t is a demographic already in place, and while they may be throwing darts at a Polaroid baring his alien likeness, there are still hundreds and hundreds of Chicken farms still actively participating – for even those who had been teetering on the fence and speculating whether to toss their chickens and jump on another bandwagon, it’s reason enough to hang on if only for a bit longer. It’s definitely a step in the right direction though, and if he continues on this Path, he could climb right back up to the top and improve public opinion and appeal to a whole new demographic of consumers – those without Lindens to toss out the window. Is it enough to save him completely? I don’t know.

That said, I don’t think Sion is ready for anybody to count him out.

BREAKING: Sion Announces New Product, New Hope: SionLife

Sion Zaius, creator of the first Second Life Breedable Pet was once easily the most championed content creator on the grid. His idea was beyond brilliant, his business model seemed really strong, his execution was fantastic and the product went viral, his name was on the lips of Residents, what we’ve come to know as New World Virtual Farmers around the metaverse. SionChickens gave birth to an industry of secondary trades, and sales paralleling only what Anshe Chung accomplished with Land five years ago.

And then something went horribly wrong. In what seemed a domino effect of bad decisions, poor customer service experiences, new products which gouged customers virtual wallets, mass deleting prized eggs during an unannounced update, the introduction of  an excessively threatening and unenforceable EULA, and a complete shut down of all communication had between him and the enormous community he had forged, it appeared someone got to big for their britches.

The community began to feel resentment, and the backlash began. A flurry of negative press began to swirl around the SionChicken phenomena and through that a whole of sector of community was born: Sion Griefers: People who actively sought and killed chickens on sight, well aware that Sion would refuse to replace them or offer any support from the attacks. It’s estimated that thousands of chickens on both private farms and markets dedicated to their sales suffered incredible losses from the new trend. Sion’s Customers who endured such losses were effectively left to their own devices, throwing up ban lines, hiding them away in skyboxes, or moving them to private estates. The well tred markets hired extra staff to reduce instances of attacks. People generally went to whatever necessary measures within their capabilities to not only protect their Chickens, but their considerable and ongoing investment in them. Sion took no responsibility or offered any consideration for their predicaments. He remained Silent, only speaking through authorized representative. Because of this ongoing negligence, his customer base shrank considerably, the markets for Chicken eggs, now harboring an expiration date with the version 12 update, became ghost towns of dying inventories.

Public opinion of Sion soured to a startling point, and the mention of the name in any group affiliated with virtual pets incited strong, impassioned responses of betrayal, greed and consumer neglect.

But other people were on Sion’s heels with new products – sometimes these were ex-chicken owners who had experienced that betrayal, and they came to the market with an implicit determination to NOT follow in the footsteps of the first.

Enter Petable Turtles, the second breedable pet on the grid. Created by two young scripters, Matthew Anthony and Grim Hathor, both residents well before businessmen, wanted to return the fun-filled promise of virtual farming and breeding to the ownership of the customers themselves. At first, there was skepticism. Residents felt they had been down this road before, and the idea of Turtles was met with an almost knee jerk reaction of an eye roll from ex-SionChicken owners. But it definitely seemed like other people, vocal people were having fun with it, which turned skepticism into curiosity. Turtle markets began sprouting up as more and more people found themselves fans of the little critters, but also of the devotion and communicative nature of it’s developers. That, coupled with the fact that – OMG – they are not charging residents through the nose for air only the developers can provide, and then the subsequent lighting of faces when they say “What? Egg Stands (Proteggtors) are free? Are you kidding? I don’t have to pay for transport boxes? Seriously, I get all this from a HUD button, no teleporting to a vendor? All I do is pay for food?” Well, people didn’t quite know how to react. They were used to creatures that had every dependency on the developer that could be feasibly implemented. They were used to spending thousands to keep up a small flock of chickens. But times, they were a changing, and people met Mr. Anthony and Mr. Hathor with, above all else, extreme gratitude for reminding them why they love this Second Life Hobby. In a short time, the Petable Turtle chat group swelled to more than half the size of the primary Chicken group, and it continues to grow daily as Chicken refugees discover the Hathor/Anthony Opus.

But on the Virtual Pet Farming Front, other wonderful products are appearing on the horizon. Hunny Larimore and Bunny Tremor are bring Second Life HunnyBunnys, animated rabbits that breed into unique colors and lay – What else! – Easter eggs. A new dimension to the farming industry and a welcome addition. HunnyBunnys seems to be making it’s debut right around the same time as another breedable bunny product, Ozimals. Ozimals are a lifelike recreation of real life bunnies that breed into different coats and combinations of features like eye color, ear position and other such genetic dictations. Both Ozimals and HunnyBunnys have been met with immense anticipation for their release, and Ozimals look like they may be the first on the Scene, having already entered a Closed Beta. Both companies have seen a mounting excitement from hopeful owners. But will it be costly? I haven’t seen HunnyBunny’s pricing structure and dependency list yet, but I have seen Ozimals (And you can too) and it looks a little to similar to Sion’s to make me completely comfortable. While the quality of Ozimals is superior, they have several products to sustain your bunnies that have ongoing costs, like love potions and happiness totems. This is on top of the food. I was surprised they adopted Sion’s old business model given what has occurred, but then again, not entirely shocked given how much money Sion has made.

BUT!!!

From his lofty tower, Sion has been watching, and at some point realized that he had to take action really quick if he was going to stay in business. He had to earn back the trust of his clientele. He had to revamp his model to stand solidly with the new kids on the block. People had learned that they didn’t actually have to go bankrupt to play these games. This is second life, after all. His first step toward changing public opinion left him flat on his rump, unfortunately. He decided to stop the support of version 11 chickens and force his tragic version 12 update on everyone. Version 12 was the update that introduced a shelf life to all eggs of 90 days, and obligated to “agree” to his ridiculous EULA. Many suspected it was coming. I predicted it a month ago. When everyone realize their hundreds of eggs they had had rented booths to sell in were now in a race with time, the value of them declined significantly in an already perishing marketplace. There was no demand anymore. To skirt around that, people went actively in search for version 11 eggs, which Sion saw as an act of defiance, thus the sudden refusal of support for version 11 chickens and eggs. In true Sion form, the instance of communication and information has stopped, owners of Sion Chickens of version 11 cannot get answers to their questions regarding the implication of NOT updating. In fact, they can’t even obtain updaters as they have been removed from vendors and disabled. Despite the last update being deemed “optional,” those seeking to update (Since now it appears it was in fact mandatory, or, at best, Sion decided it should have been in hindsight) or making inquiries to the chat group are being told “You had 30 days to update…” when if fact, they were given no deadline; They were told explicitly that if they chose not to update they only consequence was opting out of getting an Astral Breed chicken, but it was their choice to make otherwise. Now, people are claiming all version 11 chickens will be deleted, others have said the vendors selling food will be pulled in coming days and unupdated Chickens will starve to death. Everyone is in the dark. Nobody knows what to do or how to proceed. When it comes to customer communication, it’s not fun to let guesswork be their guide.

But while customers stagger around in the dark speculating the fate of their chickens, Sion made a new, earth shaking announcement today regarding a NEW product in which he references his competitors, claims that SionChicken farming is continuing to GROW – huh? – and give some insight (Barely) on what he has in store for his remaining customer. Take a look.

“Hello People!

When I first started working on the sionChickens in December 2008, I was looking for a challenge and wanted to create a lifeform just for fun.

If I had known they would become so popular and well liked, I would have focused more effort into some of the main features.

Specifically, I’m referring to making them rezzable from inventory and implementation of a secured anti-cloning feature to ensure the project was not exploited or abused should also have been included.

It’s really amazing that Sion Labs has not only survived all the bugs, griefers and recent competitors, but actually continues to steadily grow and expand daily!

Contrary to what some may think, sionChickens and sionCorn were created for the challenge of bringing a realistic life form to SL and to provide more enjoyment within SL. I envisioned my project to be as lifelike as possible.

My intentions haven’t changed at all and I will continue to create new things that haven’t yet been seen in SL. I will also continue to explore new avenues in order to increase the enjoyment of your time spent in SL.

It is at this time that I’m proud to announce a new product line called “sionLife”. It has all the improved features I mentioned at the beginning of this notice, and won’t be limited to a single type of life form.

A newly developed Sion exclusive technology will make the addition of new animals become very easy. It will also reduce the need for you to update any of your new pets when new creatures are added.

I’m planning the initial release of “sionLife” with a variety of pets for you to experience. You can expect the same high quality and attention to detail that all Sion products have supplied. This new product line will Include some pets that will be FREE-to-maintain varieties as well as some others that will require ongoing food.

Since there are many new animals to be released, there was a need to hire a modeler! Teven Snowpaw is sion Labs’ new modeler, who has already begun to design awesome looking pets.

It gets even better than just this though! In the near future you will also be able to create your very own walking, flying or swimming pets.

I would also like to merge the current sionchicken project into the new “sionlife” project once it has been released. This merger will be flawless and ensure the same high standards are uniform throughout the Sion product lines.

My main focus will be to create a new standard for animals very close to the real life. This means that some animals will become food for other animals and then finally implement a setup for a closed ecology.

This is the direction I intend to work towards but it’s all still open. Please understand that I am not able to release specific details at this time or even give you a firm release date. This is something I have already begun working on and progress so far  has been rapid and favorable 🙂

I would like to also take this opportunity to THANK each one of you personally for your ongoing support and confidence in me and the Sion line of products!

Sion Zauis
Sion Labs

His premise sounds interesting in concept, and Sion has proven in the past that when it comes to inventing new, refreshing, innovative products, he does not come up short. This man is an incredibly smart individual whose talent is absolutely undeniable. But his announcement has not received the response he had hoped. Unlike other companies, whose announcements have been met repeatedly with glowing interest and unbridled enthusiasm, Sion’s announcement left even current chicken farmers quite the opposite. Even as I write this article, statements are being made in the group like “I will never own another Sion Product…” and “I don’t care if he craps gold brick. I ain’t buying anything from him again.”

It’s apparent to anyone who has watched just a few lines of discussion on chickens past that Sion has got his work cut out for him if he is going to salvage anything from the wreckage. It will take more than a new product to redeem himself to the hundreds of folks who feel scorned; Many of whom have already moved on to other breedable pets. But lets be honest, emotions in Second Life are pretty fleeting, and if his product is genuinely good and fulfills Sion’s incredible potential as a creator, well, I suspect even the most disillusioned would give him another chance – even if he hasn’t yet given a single indication that he’s learned anything from his adventure. There are always new residents coming into Second Life, and I’m sure each day new people, completely unaware of the pocked SionChicken history, are jumping on an otherwise abandoned bandwagon. I don’t foresee a day when people no longer own or pay for chickens, when one farmer retires their flock, there is always another resident to fill their shoes who remains oblivious to the ongoings. Sion has that to his benefit, the lack of a shared social awareness. While his consumer base may diminish considerably, the ebb and flow will never cease entirely. Chickens will always maintain their place in history as the first.

So now that Sion has decided to stand and be counted amongst the new content creators throwing their hats into the ring, it remains to be seen how his product will be received. I wish him the best of luck.

Sion claims $L 800,000 in theft – Explains Costs

So over the last 48 hours, people have noticing that all of Sion’s vendors have been suspiciously offline – then came the announcement yesterday that Vendors were now only being made available to large marketplaces rather than independent farmers. A lot of people were deeply unhappy about that given the convenience of having a vendor on their farms had been entirely removed.

Well, now we know why. Apparently someone has stolen over 800,00 Lindens worth of SionChicken accessories from a vendor resulting in this public statement made by Sion himself today.

September 16th, 2009

Dear Sion community,

This note should have been a great announcement but *sigh* it’s not. It’s something very painful instead.

First of all, I’d like to thank you for your support. I’m very proud that you supported my peacful projects. You’ve helped me to create something never before seen in Second life. This means alot to me.
We live in a world dominated by violence, sex, etc… and the chickens strengthened my believe in a positive world.

However, about 1% of the people out there have awesome destructive skills. I’m sure they could setup their own creative projects with those skills and put them to much better use.

After several weeks of endless hours of investigation by many parties, it has been discovered that someone has illegally obtained over 800,000L worth of Sion products.

The vendors were taken offline to ensure that the amount of illegally obtained products did not increase while the investigation continues.
Releasing this information to the public could have prevented us from taking the action we have up to this point.

We are still unsure of many things at this point in time and are working with Linden Lab to bring closure to this matter. We ask for your continued patience and understanding as we continue to restore Sion Labs and prosecute those responsible for this.

Our vendors have now been changed so any vendors held by individuals will no longer function. Please delete the catalogue vendors you have at this time. If you would like to request new vendors, you may do so by note card and include the region names you intend to have them on please.

Due to security concerns, the new vendors will only be supplied to larger markets and shops but not to individuals. The vendor locations will be determined by past activity with previously placed ones.

There were no changes to the products themselves at this time but that doesn’t exclude the possibility that additional security measures may be needed. Additional information will be released as possible when it is possible to release it.

Also there are many people who think proteggtors and transport boxes are an unnecassery expense. Let me officially explain WHY they have to cost money.

If you look at the contents of those objects, you will see a ‘sionChicken’ and ‘sionChicken egg’ as objects. They are the chicken/egg objects that will be rezzed after you unbox chicken/eggs.

This means the chicken/egg will have the same version as the proteggtor / transport box.
What happens if it doesn’t cost anything? Right! people would stockpile them and then, updates wouldn’t be spread fast enough.

Sion Zaius
Sion Labs

I think it’s deeply unfortunate that anyone would go to these lengths. No matter how dissatisfied or bitter someone is over excessive costs Sion imposes, if someone is moved to the point where they have to exploit a flaw in a system and take something they are not entitled to, then it taking it to far. Rather than steal – because yes, it is stealing, simply put down the chicken and walk away. Don’t reduce yourself to something that in any life, first or second, is immoral and criminal.

I know that not everyone can comprehend this. In a world like SL, business is not conducted in the same respect it is in other worlds. It’s not as black and white as it is in real life with Services paid for, product provided, end of story. If a merchant develops a notorious reputation as Sion has, there is always that anonymous crew who will seek to exact some revenge against him, his products, and his customers, hence the uprising of griefing attacks that have resulted in the tightening of security at Chicken markets around the grid. It doesn’t make it right, Ladies and gentleman. But I’d like to point out perhaps the most inflammatory concept of them all. Sion has never at any point in time offered to take steps to prevents this, offer any apologies for when it occurs or offer anyone any replacements even when someone has had their entire farm slaughtered by a griefer who just hates chickens. Although well aware of the substantial amount of Chickens innocent farmers have lost to abuse by Griefers, he has never sought to implement any changes in their programming, therefore leaving all of his patrons to the mercy of circumstance.

I’m sorry, Sion, but haven’t you, yourself, programmed your chickens so they could be stolen from your customers by acts of violence or abuse? When someone pays you heft amounts of lindens to feed the chickens that you programmed with such a vulnerability and someone comes along and destroys all the chickens belonging to that customer, did you not ALLOW that act to be carried out, resulting in the obliteration of products that you refuse to replace. Have you not reacted to this with ambivalence and inaction?

After all the trespasses committed by Sion himself that either directly victimize his customers or allow victimization of them, it makes it incredibly hard to feel sorry for him when someone has now victimized him. While sad for certain, it is a challenge to feel sorry for him.

I was quite surprised how he chose to use that specific statement to explain the costs of proteggtors and transport boxes, or “Why they need to cost money.” I had to LOL because I don’t know anyone with half a brain who would uh… buy that! Proteggtors and Transport boxed DO NOT, in fact need to cost money, nothing does, in fact, for heaven’s sake neither does food. The whole thing could be FREE if he wanted. But that’s not business, and most certainly not good business to work hard on a product and then give it out for nothing. But on the same token, when you charge people through the nose by deliberately (Keyword here, folks: DELIBERATELY) by making them dependent on your fringe products for just about everything, don’t try to justify it with double speak or by claiming anything Must cost Money. Your aren’t providing any tangible services, we can’t touch or eggs or transport them to real life, they aren’t bringing anyone enough lindens in Second Life to equate real life expenses of cost of actual living. Nothing that is virtual “Needs to cost money.” It does because virtual reality entrepreneurs have recognized a valuable marketplace where people are willing to pay. I sell things in Second Life, but not because they have to cost money, but because I WANT them too. That is absolutely acceptable. Now, I have sold clothing in the past, novelty items like dolls. If I debited a customer Lindens every time they put on that dress, or attached an item I created to their avatar, or sent them to a sewing machine once a week due to wear and tear where they had to pay me for repairs for the outfit I programmed to degrade… why would I make the statement that It had to cost money?

If that statement was intended to incite some sympathy from his customers, he has failed again.

I Hate to Say I Told You So…

But, I also hate to pass up an opportunity! My beloved readers, yet another one of my forecasts has come to pass. Sion chickens has driven the final nail into their coffin, and all version 11 Eggs are now unsupported and they are halting the sales of any v.11 support products such as proteggtors and transport boxes. In a drop-down notice to residents in the groups, Sion Labs representative GreenShamrock McMahon made the following announcement:

As you probably already know, the vendors have been down for just over 24 hours as Sion has worked on changes to help prepare & move towards a brand new & exciting project !!!

V11 will no longer be supported by Sion Labs & it’s recommended that you purchase & sell only V12 products at this time.

New sionCorn & sionChicken V12 vendors are available only to large market owners at this time. Current vendors can be deleted. Watch for exciting news from Sion on the new project you are simply going to LOVE !!

Yes, yes, how exciting…now you absolutely HAVE to agree to Sion’s ridiculously heavy handed and unenforceable EULA if you want to play. I know a great many Chicken Farmers who loathed the idea of putting death dates on their eggs – which weren’t selling anyway – and who also refused to honor his stupid EULA, not because they intended to break it, but because of the ethics it violated. If you opted not to upgrade to his disastrous version 12, that didn’t apply to you, only to future versions. Now, as predicted, it’s being forced down your throats if you wish to continue you chicken adventures.

So, October 2nd marks the death date of the first eggs produced by chicken who upgraded to version 12, and I believe on that day we will see thousand of eggs across the grid spoil as they’ve been sitting on the shelf and no one wanted them anyway. Sion has a love/hate relationship with his own community it seems, at once he can’t stand the fact that people are making money off his product and vehemently protests it in his EULA. On the flip side he loves that the secondary market sends him countless new customer to his vendors every day for food and accessories. With all the evidence we now have only one thing to consider here… was the implementation of a Death Date, and now the refusal of support to version 11 chickens and eggs created to destroy the heavily saturated secondary market… or a last bid attempt to salvage it?

I mean, the most valued chickens they have now denied service and support for. Any and all Mutations or Bugged eggs (Think of them as a coin with a factory blemish that makes it valuable to collectors) have been spurned by Sion Labs. Farmers have been trying to root out the rarest combination of breeds since they are now the only things people have a remote interest in. So, if you have an Double Glow Ancient Scarce Astral, well, that’s about the only thing that will turn you a Linden dollar after all your food and accessories expense. I think it’s been made pretty clear that the only direction Sion likes to see money funneled is his own. Fair enough. It’s his product, but that doesn’t obligate the community to keep playing.. and many of them haven’t.

Chickens will stand, in a twist of irony, as the first generation of Second Life virtual pets, and his successors are hot on his heels with better business models and less in-your-face financial and EULA demands on the players. With the recent release of the hugely successful Turtles and the soon to be released Ozimals, plus whispers of other bunny pets of which I have no familiarity with, Sion is likely staying up in his Lab clock tower like some Mad Scientist working into the wee small hours of the morning recognizing his ass is in some deep chicken shit if he doesn’t straighten up his act and accept that Second Life is not Real Life, and people, while forgiving, won’t roll over like dogs when scorned.

However, people have been very forgiving of Sion’s ever tightening throat crushing stronghold on their fun. The great egg deletion tragedy that occurred when he tried instituting a a back door update which cost people thousands of lindens in stock. The institution of expiration dates in version 12 which killed them after 3 months on an already dying market which meant that a huge Day Of The Dead was imminent in 90 days and farmer would lose tremendous amounts of their inventory of which they paid to maintain their Chickens long enough to lay. SionCorn was a disaster of epic proportions in the way it was created, ultimately intended to be an enormous money sink, 5k Lindens over a 35-ish day process to grow corn that fetches at most about 40 kernels per cob and as few as 1 – not even enough to make it worthwhile. The public threat to stop service to the entire community unless one customer of his apologized for threatening a lawsuit. The horrific actions of their Customer Service rep who closed off group communication when someone had the nerve to complain about the loss of their paid-for products. The unlawful EULA which actually (attempts to) release him of any and all liability AND responsibility to his own customers, and in which he states he can sue you if you don’t update within 7 days of a new update.

What began as tremendous, light-hearted fun and gave birth to a buzzing Secondary Market has been reduced to whispers of corruption and, yes, I’ll say it, greed. Farmers markets have started to embrace other Virtual Pets to offset the loss of income due to rise of abandoned chicken booths and storefronts. Chicken oriented groups are inundated with announcements of farmers selling all of their stock, having going-out-of-business sales and pricing their eggs at next to nothing simply to get rid of them. The frivolous fun was entirely removed almost entirely when Sion suddenly saw himself as a super-serious businessman with a bottom line relying on the revenue. In real life, that works. In Second Life, when you’re a money gobbing businessman who prioritizes revenue well above quality of experience or product, you fall mighty quickly.

Sion doesn’t speak English, which is why he doesn’t interact with the community except through a spokesperson, namely GreenShamrock and wotshisface with the sparkly name. Fizz Raymaker, yeah that’s him. When you create a substantial divide between yourself and the people paying you, that does become an issue. Now, It would be awful of me to say that only English speaking residents of Second Life should engage is mass business efforts. That’s not true, many of our Residents who run successful businesses on the platform speak foreign languages. BUT – when you disassociate entirely from your consumer base and behave as if you have absolutely ZERO interest in what they are interested in or excited about, when you have no relationship with Second Lifer’s nor do you have your finger on the pulse of the community at large, or posses any awareness of what works and what obviously didn’t, you set yourself up for major fail. It makes you wonder if he is even aware of the tragic effects his actions have had – I bet he will when his next bank statement arrives… or maybe it has.

And we get to suddenly hear about this massively-super-great-awesome NEW product coming soon from Sion. (!!)

After I’ve said all of this, I don’t want to ring poor old Sion’s death knell. He’s not a business man, he is a Second Life resident who found himself suddenly filling the role of one, and he’s trying hard to put on his big-boy business pants and act like one all the while mucking it up. If he has learned anything over the last 5 months it isn’t yet obvious, but perhaps he realizes the mistakes he made with the Chickens and is about to make a great comeback. It is entirely possible. I’d love the opportunity to write about him with praise and enthusiasm again. Maybe he will blow us all away with his new product. Maybe it won’t milk every single one of us for all we’re worth to him… and maybe we as a community will be worth more than a ca-ching to exploit. Maybe he will ditch the ridiculous EULA recognizing how infantile it was, and how it actually opened him up to more legal danger than any such EULA is worth to him. Maybe he will embrace the Secondary Market that is responsible for his very own viral success and take steps to preserve the integrity of it rather than punish those participating in it. Maybe he will realize that he will get a lot more business if he doesn’t charge you for every single possible item he can manifest and be the sole proprietor of, like air for it to breathe. Maybe he will remember the reasons he created chickens to begin with, in a time not so long ago, when for those fortunate enough to have had the experience back then it was great fun, and that was enough. It was only after he became a success that he became intent on creating money pit after money pit with promises of mystery breeds and other such bait for his hook in the Linden river that used to be the Chicken Community.

Want more? Maybe he learned it wasn’t such a great idea to leave all of his customers at the mercy of griefers gridwide and refuse to replace the poultry victims of such attacks.

Maybe he learned that it not a great idea to refuse responsibility to your own creations and penalize your customers who lose items do to no single fault of their own but instead to anomalies of the very grid he developed these things to operate on. Lag return death? Sharp objects in inventory? Hmm… maybe he learned that people who pay him their real life money don’t like that any unforeseen and unpreventable grid conditions can rob them of what they purchased, while he laughs all the way to the bank as they have to pay to replace or go to groups crying over their losses.

Maybe he learned that Customer service means providing more than a heavy handed group moderator with an unnecessary temperament.

Then again… Maybe he didn’t learn a damn thing at all.

Sion Rep says, “I suck at this”

The face of SionLabs products too to the group notices the other day to let he world know that she sucks at processing corn and hopes you have better luck!

“I have corn at 99% and 37 kernals so i guess I need more practice. I hope you all are better than I am but in case you’re wondering how to make your wonderful new coblets into food, it’s simple.

After they are 100% mature and fall off teh plant, place them in a cobserver to take to invetory. You can keep or sell them for new plants or take them to the secret lab and convert them. Ok so it’s not so secret but it was. *rolls her eyes*”

Okay, 37 kernels of corn off a cob that residents have invested over 2,000 lindens in purchasing starter kits, sprinklers, and fertilizer refills and cobservers over a long, tedious 30 days waiting period of prim hogging?

37 kernels of corn isn’t enough to feed mot people’s chickens for one single day. But this is randomized, right, some people may get more kernels, some people may get, dare I even utter it, less?

Once again, we invite you along with the shrinking community of chicken farmer to offer a resounding sigh of disappointment in their relationship with their customer. More gouging, less product!

Most people have now given up on corn. It’s not at all pracical for the common SL’er in cost or prim usage, and many have deleted their crops upon the realization. While we have passed the 30 day mark and a great many flooded Sion’s small alcove in boardman to grab their corn cobs on August 2nd hoping to be the next corn connoisseur, today, when we expected that we’d be seeing all kinds of adverts for SionCorn fresh off the cob, we see next to none.

Not only that but it’s been well over a month now since any SionChicken updates or new content introduced to the chicken line, which leaves a fair amount of people jumping off the boredom bandwagon onto other things.

Finally, the griefer issue has grown to epic proportions as more and more of our less mature fare have picked up tehir guns to shoot down our poultry. It’s happening at the largest chicken-related marketplaces and has resulted in tremendous losses. I think it’s time Sion consider implementing some changes that don’t leave you at the mercy of griefers since he refuses to offer any replacements.

SL Turtle Blog Launches

Today we celebrate the Launch of our Sister site, the SL Turtle Blog where I’ll be studying the developments of the new Petable Turtles which have lept onto the virtual Pet Farming band wagon with a frenzy! On the blog you will be able to find helpful information and the same unbiased thoughts and observations as you have found here!

But don’t worry! I’m not going anywhere and neither are the chickens. I still have plenty of my feathered friends to keep me tossing about my thoughts and observations here on SL Chicken Blog where I’ll be reporting on events and changes as they occur in the industry.

If you want to learn more about these new turtles, head on over to the SL Turtle Blog and read the FAQ!

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