Survival of the Fittest: Will Second Life Be A Success?

Now all this combined makes SL attractive to the residents. I love to quote Philip, and one idea he has is that SL is not a game, but a place. So you “travel” to this place instead of “joining a game” – it’s like having vacations on another country. Things are similar – since SL models itself upon RL – but still different. This is quite different from the notion of “pure entertainment” provided by most online games, or “virtual 3D rooms” like TSO or There. SL is all about a growing community, gently guided by Linden Lab, but which shows the first signs of self-rule. Something appealing to us is logging in over and over again, and having a notion that things have changed, but stayed the same. This means your friends are online, there are still sandboxes in Morris and Cordova, the L$ is stil worth about the same, and Elite is still the biggest club in SL – but probably new stuff has also been brought in: new content (new clubs, new shops), new ideas (like SimHorror), new people, new ways of doing old stuff.

So, where does all of this leads us to? Recent talks with Andrew Linden – which seem to reflect much of what has been said – shows that LL is worried about “exponential growth”, just to please the media and give us a warm, cozy feeling that everything is going well in the right direction. SL as a “gaming platform” simply does not attract a large number of people by “word of mouth” – currently, still the biggest way to attract people to this “virtual environment”, in a steady way with which LL is able to keep up the growth. Meaning that unlike other games, people at LL seem to think that they should throttle growth, not encourage it – until the platform is ready to handle it.

Since the completely unexpected funding by Benchmark Capital, LL has found a way to speed up their growth. They seem to want to concentrate on stability and speed of the technical side of Second Life® – instead of making more money with a large marketing campaign that would attract millions of users. Now this is something very unexpected coming from an US company – relying on quality instead of quantity. Being an European and educated under those principles, I really appreciate the way Linden Lab seems to be running their own approach to become” successful”: stay small, grow in a sustained way, focus on quality, improve the platform and the experience of current residents, make them spend more on SL instead of attracting new people that would just log in, see that the frame rate is around 10 and that vehicles get lost across sim boundaries, and never return to SL again.

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