Monday, January 9, 2012

Opinion: Why Second Life Isn't Going Away (and Why It Doesn't Appeal to Everyone)

Some of you may remember CNN iReporter Any1 Gynoid's article predicting Second Life's doom last month. Marx Dudex recently wrote an opinion piece in response to the "doomsayers." Marx commented that there was reason to feel pessimism for the past couple years, cluelessness at the Lab, talk of Second Life being sold, some noteable departures from the Grid, etc. But he feels more confident about the future, signs including a CEO who actually uses the virtual world, and a number of disgruntled residents who left coming back.

Why haven't the alternative virtual worlds been able to draw more people from Second Life. One reason Marx felt was the small market of goods available to buy. There weren't enough to convince many to stay. Then there was that Second Life had emerged as "McDonalds" of virtual world with no one else coming close. Timing also had part to do with it's success, he felt ...

Second Life came into being in the waning years of the dot-com bubble, and I think that it will be quite a few years yet before we see the advances in technology and new ideas that could bring about another such ‘goldrush’, if ever. Second Life came along at just the right time. It doesn’t necessarily matter that it did not become the game-changing ‘killer app’ that many had hoped.

I share Marx's optimism about the Grid's future. Although the sim closings still going on are sad, things are looking up compared to 2010. Although I know a few people who invested in Avination and Inworldz, they never really left Second Life but logged onto both worlds. One will probably still keep his casino in Avination due to his love of gaming and gambling, but he still comes back to the "Mother Grid" regularly.

And why hasn't Second Life caught on with the public to the extent World of Warcraft and Facebook have? Many have put the blame on the Grid's learning curve for new residents. But Marx saw it as more than that, "Second Life requires an investment of time, dedication, and most of all, imagination." The Grid's "core membership" he felt were more imaginative, and broad-minded, than the general public.

Marx hits the nail on the head here in my opinion. MORPGs such as World of Warcraft, while often flexible, offer pretty simple goals compared to Second Life. Go on quests, whomp the bad guys, maybe raise your crafting skills on the side, pretty simple. Second Life on the other hand is a blank slate ready to be drawn on, or in Marx's words, it "provides the canvas for our imaginations." Not exactly the ideal place for an intellectual couch potato, those who look for easy entertainment in which they don't have to think too hard. With Second Life, either you find your entertainment, or at least know someone who can find it.

Of Linden Lab on its way to shifting focus to other products, Marx felt that at most there would be fewer performance improvements and bug fixes to the Grid, but they would still continue. He saw two possible outcomes. Either Linden Lab would make something that would finally catch on with the public and Second Life could ride it's way of popularity, or the products would fail and the Lab would fall back to it's mainstay. This is something I've written about before. As a company, diversifying into multiple products is better business sense for it. And one doesn't just up and abandon the product that got you going, especially if it remains profitable.

Despite some rough times in the past, Second Life will not only survive in the years ahead, but thrive. And that's something we both, and others, agree on.

Source: Inworld

Bixyl Shuftan

1 comment:

  1. I warned the lab about 2 years back that the people willing to pay massive amounts to play virtual house are the early adopters. And once the lab's incompetence drove them away, there would be no more deep wallets.

    The lab must come to grips with the fact that they will never get more people with the tier prices the way they are today. They should expand the special pricing of Atlas across the board to all of us and cut the tier 33%. They should also offer a "Welcome Back" program where people who abandoned land could get the same size of land back for no fees (as they already paid big bucks for land and abandoned the money) just by picking up the new tier again.

    I have hope that the new leadership will turn SL around and make it the wild fun anything possible playground SL used to be, or at least a resemblence of it. But the tier is illogical and too expensive -- it costs the same to add 1m to an 8K parcel as it does to double it to a 16K parcel. A flat per meter rate and a cut in the price would bring some of the people back and get more newcomers to "buy" land.