Monday, July 15, 2013

Linden Labs Buys Desura

On July 10, Linden Lab announced it had acquired Desura, a digital distribution platform based in Australia. Sometimes compared to Steam, Desura is best known for focusing on small independent games, or "indie games," instead of those from the bigger companies Steam has. This continues the trend of Linden Lab buying or establishing platforms centered around user-generated content, such as Patterns, Blocksworld, and Versu.

In the Linden Lab press statement, Mark Humble stated, "Desura puts the best games, mods, and downloadable content from developers at gamers’ fingertips, ready to buy and play. The free Desura application can serve and patch games, mods, and add-ons directly for customers around the world. Developers and publishers can share news, images, videos, and other content through their profiles, while every member of the Desura community can post comments, submit reviews, and upload screenshots from their own playing experiences. Desura also demystifies user-made mods and add-ons for games by making them as easy to find and install or update as professional titles."

Desura called it's acquisition, "an important milestone in the company's history, with much more to come."

For our community of gamers, publishers, and developers, rest assured Desura shall continue running uninterrupted. Long term, expect plenty of polish as we continually strive to innovate and differentiate ourselves as we have done in the past with our Linux client, alphafunding, mod support and self-publishing for developers. We have big plans and many ideas to explore, and the resources we now have as part of Linden Lab will allow us to do just that.

Our aim remains to put great games, mods, and downloadable content at the fingertips of players - and we look forward to doing this in a greatly expanded manner and challenging ourselves to grow with the games we support.

In an open letter to its game developers, the Desura team stated, "... To date Desura has been built and run by a dedicated small team- and it's grown to the point where we list over 1,000 games and have served over 1,000,000 customers. We are very passionate about the developers and community we represent, and I want to assure you now this policy isn't changing. With Linden Lab's support, we plan on expanding our team and providing you with more co-ordinated coverage, sales, marketing efforts, reporting, and assistance from us. We want to solve challenges like discoverability and giving your customers' choice, and we look forward to doing so. We are going to continue to polish and innovate so Desura stands out and does its most important job better: getting your game into customers' hands. ..."

There have been a few opinions about the matter, and considering it's earlier moves some wondered if this was another move to "throw enough things at the wall and hope something sticks." In the SL Universe forums, a couple people expressed worry that Linden Lab would just "gut" Desura of it's technology and then close it down like when it acquired "Avatars United."

Iris Ophelia expressed the opinion that Desura was different from Linden Lab's earlier moves, "At points, it seined like they were snapping up promising creative gaming projects and hoping that one might magically blossom into the next Minecraft. But they've yet to demonstrate the follow-through that would be necessary to make that happen." They neither had a community of fans nor did the Lab did anything to nurture one. "But Desura is very different. If we're talking about Linden Lab buying up projects to see what will stick, Desura's already well into the process of sticking, if not already 'stuck.''

Iris called Desura, "Steam for Indie games … if you're big on indie games, you're probably big on Desura." And indie games were what Iris called "a big f**king deal. In the past few years, some of the most memorable games have been indies that seemingly came out of nowhere. … this segment of game development is big and only getting bigger. Desura appeared at the perfect time to take advantage of this, making an array of publishing and vending tools available to just about anyone with a game they wanted to sell."

Linden Lab made what could be a brilliant move, Iris felt. Provided the Lab can help keep it's momentum and help fix what problems it has, this could easily be it's best purchase, "I'm not worried about Desura 'sticking,' so long as Linden Lab sticks with Desura."

Most responding to Iris's article expressed optimism, though there was one person asking, "What does this have to do with Second Life?"

So it seems Linden Lab, for once, made the right move at the right place at the right time. But will they continue to avoid blunders with their new acquisition?

Bixyl Shuftan

Sources: Linden Lab, Desura, Wikipedia, New World Notes, Business WireTechcrunch

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