Being original, copy-catting, or reinventing the wheel?

What am I getting at? Well, Second Life is one of those examples: something coming from a tiny start-up that actually went quite well. Sure, we had ActiveWorlds before Second Life: so it was not completely original. It is the complex combination of interaction between users, the environment, the economy, the society that makes Second Life unique. And it’s hard to replicate.

Not that people aren’t trying to do that all the time. Cloud Party, of course, is one of the latest attempts in replicating SL. The idea is simple: if SL, as a business model, works out fine, then copying the model should allow Cloud Party’s owners to get as rich as Linden Lab, too.

Well, we’ll see. Blue Mars thought the same, and clearly weren’t successful. Others attempted different variations on the theme of virtual worlds, and also went bust — from Lively to Kaneva (even though Kaneva still works; and There.com has made a comeback!). There seems to be an oddity about Second Life. Can people develop a virtual world that does not compete with SL and is definitely not inspired by it and still be successful? Well, Will Wright’s Spore was supposed to be that, but it didn’t quite work out. On the other hand, can someone copy the idea, tweak it, make it better, and launch a successful competitor?

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