Tuesday, June 28, 2016

"There" is Back, But Few Are Playing

Longtime users of Second Life may remember "There," another virtual world which in the early days was considered it's most noted competition. There was launched by Makena Technologies shortly after Linden Lab's virtual world in October 2003. While it had an early advantage due to having more funding at the start, it soon ran low, and Second Life's gaining the media spotlight put it in the shadow of it's rival. It tried to distinguish itself from it's competitor by marketing itself as family friendly and appealing to teenagers, whom at the time couldn't get on Second Life unless they were 18 or over. But in March 2010, the CEO of There announced the virtual world would be shutting down.

About a year later, Makena took a survey among former users of There to see how many were willing to return, with two stipulations. One was that There would no longer allow teenagers, but be 18 years old and up. Residents would also have to play a $10 monthly fee. CEO Michael Wilson published the results on his blog in April 2011, with 2400 having answered, and 80% willing to return under those conditions.

That would be the last I or anyone else at Second Life Newser would hear about "There," until a few days ago when I ran into Christopher Organiser at the Second Life Birthday. Among the things he talked about was the virtual world there, which he stated he was originally from, "It has since reopened, but is not the same and they charge a monthly fee for everyone and made it 18+. That caused a decrease in active memberships." He brought up Michael Wilson's blog page at https://theremichaelwilson.wordpress.com/ , "At the bottom of the page are real-time stats of how many people are online. Daily max is around 80-100 people. That's pretty small, which is really bad. Compare that to Second Life."

According to Wikipedia, There reopened in May 2012, about a year after the results of the survey. It also has a blog at https://blog.there.com/, which has entries going back to Septemeber 2014, the first entries saying, "today, nearly two million people have become members, making There the destination of choice for anyone who wants to experience the power of chat combined with the fun of online games. ... we created a world of continuous fun, over 20,000 different clubs to join, and thousands of cool places to play games, meet someone new, or just go exploring."

But with numbers as low as 30 active in the entire virtual world at once, a number that could easily fit in a single Second Life sim, it's clear that the virtual world that was once Linden Lab's greatest rival has pretty much become a faint shadow of it's former self.

Bixyl Shuftan

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