Too Many Cooks - Why Second Life's avatar body industry is a crapshoot

 Let it be said that I am all for choice. Whatever body one likes to use, even if it comes from the depths of Onyx LaShelle's dark-as-a-black-hole heart, is their prerogative, and I won't advocate for it to be taken from them, nor will I advocate for barring people from trying to compete.

But in recent months I've come to realize that the fitmesh body industry, home to monolithic companies like Slink, Maitreya, The Shops and Belleza, is heating up for.. no particularly good reason. In recent months if you've been to events, you'll notice a new company in the fray, Inithium, pushing their new body, Kupra. At first glance of a review, it doesn't really do all that much. Unlike Legacy, it doesn't reinvent things by providing compatibility with older clothing. Unlike Slink, it doesn't have a historical pedigree. Unlike Maitreya, it's not run by a megalomaniacal hack.. 

In fact, Kupra feels more like Ebody and bodies of its' stature - ones that fall by the wayside that don't have a certain niche market, like Kemono, AV2, and the dozens of different dedicated furry bodies, or those catering to fetishes like those from SKING.

Honestly, Inithium really seems to appeal to those initially attracted to Belleza, and given the fact that Belleza can't be arsed to update their body to support BOM out of the box, It's unsurprising that someone's coming for their spot. Problem is, that Inithium needs to make up for *years* of content for their body that Belleza has an advantage on if we're going down that line of thinking.

The Inithium Dilemma

As I said in my review of Legacy - no one wants to buy a body that has no clothing for it. And as nice as bakes on mesh is, it's limited by no materials support and the fact that the existing market is overwhelmingly inferior to current offerings due to the fact that prior to BOM, textures were 512x512, rather than 1024x1024 on body clothing - leaving it really only viable for skins and tattoos and maybe underwear in some applications. The same problem extends to Omega clothing.

Inithium has however, made up for this by hyping up their body with what amounts to a blitzkrieg-style campaign to promote it. Never before have I seen a body directly being promoted like this. Even Legacy wasn't promoted as intensely as Kupra has been. And it's gotten them some traction. But here's the thing - that traction won't last forever. You'll need to manage to sustain it for long enough to get a strong market presence or people will just go back to other bodies. It's why my friend Sarrah stopped using Slink Physique - no one made clothes for it anymore after it was more or less superceded by Hourglass in regards of Slink's offerings and by Maitreya overall.

Kupra is more likely than not by 2022 going to be in the same basket as Physique. It feels from the looks of it, to be trying to compete with Freya and Hourglass. And that's a tall order to fill. If I were still using Hourglass or Freya as much as I do Legacy, I wouldn't be tempted at all by Kupra. Of course, curiousity still exists, but it's covered like 10 feet of snow, in doubt. Why should I invest in a body that feels more like a net loss than anything resembling a gain. Sure, the body could be nice for more sexual endeavors that require a body of that shape, but I have bodies like it already. That's the problem with the fitmesh industry, there's too many cooks trying to reinvent the sandwich.

Reinventing the Sandwich

When you think of a female body, in general, not just in Second Life, there's many different forms they could take. From exotic, busty and curvy hourglass figures, to more chubby, 'thicc' figures, to those in between. With Lara, Freya and Hourglass, the general gamut of shapes were more or less met. There was a reason I coined the term "The Big Three". because they were not just the biggest female bodies in SL, but each had aspects of the female form that they met. Lara was a middle ground, with Hourglass being in the former and Freya the latter of those three examples I provided initially. Due to how Second Life handles shapes, a wider gamut on to make one body fits all isn't really possible as it goes beyond the current bounds of the avatar shape system, and even then, the bodies aren't designed to go beyond reasonable configurations, as nice as it would be.

For even more exotic looks we go beyond the big three. We find bodies like SKING's Katena, Utilizator Mode's Kemono, and the various furry bodies of which there is a massive cottage industry around.

Understanding this, there's not really much room to innovate. If Inithium wanted a chunk of the pie, they wouldn't have come 3-4 years late to the party when all that's left is crumbs. If you don't believe me, ask yourself - what features would you want out of a fitted mesh body that isn't provided already by the big three? And keep in mind that it can't require Linden Lab to implement new features, it has to be with what we already have present.

If you're having a hard time finding one, then honestly that's fine. I don't know of any that wouldn't verge on tearing a page out of Legacy's book and using deformers and a LSL-HTTP bridge to back up old omega appliers to the cloud, as much as I dislike the latter for reliability reasons.

The fact of the matter is that at least Legacy tried to reinvent things. They tore a page, intentionally or not, out of WINE's book and just like them giving the finger to Microsoft, The Shops gave the finger to Maitreya in the best way - cutting out their profits and giving people a choice.

Inithium doesn't have that going for them. And honestly? They're in a position where they're maneuvering in a tight metal box. It's almost impossible to grow, and they'll eventually end up falling by the wayside like EBODY. The only way that will change is if something catastrophic happens to their competitors, such as if Onyx LaShelle dies and Maitreya goes tits up ergo, or if the owners of Belleza close up shop.

Inithium I feel is trying to follow in Legacy's footsteps and trying to break into the market where there is literally no room to maneuver. And that'll end poorly for all involved. As I said in my Legacy review, If people aren't buying a body, people won't create clothes for it. if People won't create clothes for it, people won't buy it (or even bother to wear it for that matter). It's a vicious cycle, and Inithium unless proven otherwise, is going to become yet another victim to it.

And for this reason alone, it defines why the SL fitted mesh body market is such a hot mess. It's stagnant not just because of anti-competitive business practices or lack of care, but because every base has literally been covered. You don't see companies making new search engines anymore. Why should companies be making new mesh bodies for markets that are already content with what they already have?

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