The platform is selling tickets and exclusive merchandise for a “Virtual Comedy Experience” like no other.
Fans will soon be able to step into a virtual Sansar comedy club and enjoy live stand-up shows by well-known comics such as YouTube personality Steve Hofstetter – for a new event series called “Comedy Gladiators: a Virtual Comedy Experience.”
The live comedy showcase will, according to Sansar’s creators, Linden Lab, allow fans to do everything in VR that they could do in a real-life comedy club: purchase tickets in-advance, shop for custom merch and memorabilia, even order drinks.
“Fans can purchase tickets online via the Sansar Store, just as they would for a real-life event, and receive instant access to the virtual venue. Once there, they can purchase a wide range of items, including commemorative virtual t-shirts, beer mugs, and even physical copies of Steve’s most recent book, Ginger Kid,” according to their news release.
Tickets are now on sale at $9.99 for the first event in the series which takes place Monday, December 10, at 7:30 PM PT, and features stand-up and storytelling from Hofstetter alongside Ben Gleib (voice of Marshall in Ice Age: Continental Drift), Maz Jobrani (part of the “Axis of Evil” comedy group), Alonzo Bodden (winner of Last Comic Standing season 3), and Mary Lynn Rajskub (actress in Fox series 24).
This idea itself is nothing new, of course. There are many companies out there trying to monetize on virtual live events, such as concerts. AltspaceVR tried it as early as 2016, before they were acquired by Microsoft, claiming to be the first ones to host a live comedy event in VR (on a slight side note, any time anybody claims to be the first to do anything in VR they are almost guaranteed to be flooded by comments and clarifications from the Second Life community who will helpfully inform you that they’ve been doing that s**t since the 90s).
Sansar itself has been successfully exploring different in-world experiences, including an exclusive exhibit of Star Wars memorabilia and artwork from Burning Man in partnership with the Smithsonian, a majority of which are 100% free. Since launching Sansar’s public beta last year, however, Linden Lab has made no bones about the fact that monetization is a core part of its plans for the platform, much like it has been for Second Life. This is, according to Linden Lab CEO Ebbe Altberg, quite a big milestone for the company .
“By bringing these commercial opportunities into VR, Sansar is taking virtual events to a whole new level – enhancing and expanding on what’s possible in-person. We look at Comedy Gladiators as the first ripple in a larger wave – the first event of many more that bring entertainers into VR – and we’re thrilled that Steve shares this vision”
For entertainers like Hofstetter, the collaboration offers a chance to greatly expand their audience without compromising the intimate feel of a live performance:
“Every day, I get emails and DMs from fans who want to see a live show, but they live in parts of the world I’ll probably never tour in,” Hofstetter said. “VR allows those fans to not only see a live show, but feel like they’re part of a bigger community,” he says.
Sansar’s Avatar Broadcasting feature will enable the performers taking part in Comedy Gladiators to virtually broadcast their performances across an unlimited number of spaces in Sansar, reaching a wider audience than a physical event could ever allow and giving more fans than ever the chance to grab a front row seat.
Whether or not users will keep coming back to spend their real-world cash on virtual shows and merchandise will really depend on the quality of experience. In terms of visuals, Sansar is probably the most advanced of the social VR platforms, but that often comes at a cost in terms of slow loading times and intensive demands on your GPU and CPU. It will be interesting to see whether they manage to lure enough pundits to develop this as a scalable commercial avenue. I’d say that for $10 it’s worth a try, even just for laughs (pun intended).
Image Credit: Comedy Gladiators: a Virtual Comedy Experience