Please make your New Random XR Creator Platform into an actual capitalistic ecosystem
September has been an odd month in that every week, I receive yet another “try building on our new XR creator platform” spam-quest. Some of this comes via mass email or LinkedIn messaging — and some come with stronger recruitment — people who would text me a bunch and show me random things people have built on their platform — but, they all lack realistic sustainability factors for me to seriously consider evaluating much less adopting their platform.
Being in the business of “I’ve built MVPs that have won 2 TechCrunch Disrupt Hackathon Grand Prizes — and now, beating multi-million dollar teams in SIGGRAPH Real-Time Live” — I strongly respect the world of creator tools and creator platforms. Especially if it can help me build things I want to build faster. And, be sustainable. And, highly flexible. And, have an ecosystem — so that I can properly sub-contract on larger projects, or ask questions and get near-instant responses when I’m learning it. And that is exactly the problem: none of these new random XR creator platforms have an ecosystem and lack the roadmap milestone to kickstart or sustain one.
The ecosystem is what will make or break your platform.
If you view your platform as land or virtual real estate, then please take into consideration examples from history. In every great settlement effort — from imperial colonization to venturing westwards in the US’s manifest destiny — the government provided funding for those settlers risking their time (their life!) to be the ones to make this new platform happen.
Some may argue that the role of government or larger companies is to provide a funding ecosystem to smaller companies and individuals. This is certainly true by how many in tech rely on a steady paycheck from a “dayjob”. And this is true when the government bails out banks so that they can continue to be intermediary financial institutions for smaller entities.
In a proper capitalistic (okay, only slightly meritocratic), talented people can trade their talent for competitive pay in a free market. When there are many opportunities to build amazing things and get paid well, why should someone spend time on your platform… especially if there are *so many risks involved* from additional sunk cost time in learning it, tweaking it, and even what-if after all that work, you disappear (or get bought out) and just leave people who tried building something on your platform stranded?
The point is, if you build a platform, the talent just can’t afford to come, unless the money is there. Further, the experienced talent have too much sunk cost and battle scars to dedicate on something that might just disappear next year.
Let’s take into consideration just the XR behemoths who have created similar such funds to help creators justify the time to build on their platform. From the $500M+ Oculus Developer Fund to the (albeit-mismanaged) Magic Leap Creator Fund to the Epic Unreal MegaGrants— even the indie-hacker-friendly $50/pop Leap Motion had a creator funds and even an accelerator fund.
The point is, regardless of whether the platform succeeds or not, talented people are paid for their time to create on said platform. That’s the right and respectable way to do things.
So, in short, with a very essential caveat that I hope you will agree with me on… I can be happy to take a look building innovative and awesome apps with high value proposition, solving real problems, that will likely win awards… but, please have a creator fund or budget for this settler to spend (risk) her time (and life) on trying to build on your new frontier.