Second Life parent company Linden Lab has acquired XStreet SL and OnRez, a pair of virtual goods trading sites. Terms of the deals were not disclosed, but the SF-based company plans to consolidate both sites under the XStreet SL brand. It’s a push to grab a larger piece of the booming virtual economy the company created — but hasn’t been fully reaping the benefits of: Linden Lab said Second Life residents spent $360 million on virtual goods and services in 2008, and it only got a cut of the sales by charging in-world vendors land ownership fees. Third party sites like XStreet (formerly called SL Exchange) have been exempt because they don’t operate in-world; these deals change that.
While residents will still be able to buy and sell virtual items on the Web, Linden Lab will now profit from the 5 percent commission merchants previously paid to the sites — which amounted to about $1.8 million last year, per the LAT. The additional income may help stave off future land rental price hikes, as Linden Lab has to balance being profitable with keeping land prices from spiking, which would drive residents away from owning virtual land altogether. Release.