Did Any Second Life Competitors Pass 1M Users? I'd Say So
"Philip Rosedale: The Media Is Wrong, Second Life Didn’t Fail" is an interesting new PandoDaily article with a lot of points one could quibble with, and a lot more that's already been exhaustively covered here, but at least one passage stands out to me and is worth highlighting:
[R]osedale argued hard — and pretty convincingly — that Second Life was a success. Second Life has 1 million active users... The problem — really the only problem, but a big one nonetheless — is they couldn’t ever find a way to make those numbers grow. Nothing they did worked, and Rosedale doubts that even early Facebook integration would have helped. And as Rosedale pointed out, VCs invested half a billion dollars in Second Life competitors, and none of them found a way to get beyond that number either.
To be fair to Philip (and it's foolish to fail to), I think he's probably referring to the many virtual worlds that were launched shortly before and after SL went commercial. (Think Sims Online, think There.) But if by "competitor" we mean a 3D virtual world with user-generated 3D content, I think several virtual worlds have attracted much more than a million users. For instance:
- Roblox, the 3D game world building platform, claims "millions of users", and its Google Ad Planner data seems to back that up.
- IMVU, the 3D virtual chat room with user-generated content (which is also sold in a virtual marketplace), had about 3 million users last year.
- Minecraft isn't strictly a singly virtual world, but a lot of its millions of players connect on multiplayer servers, which are effectively mini virtual worlds.
Some SLers will say these aren't direct competitors with Second Life, and to be obsessively strict about it, that's true. (Then again, to judge by recent ads, Linden Lab itself considers IMVU a competitor.) Some objections have been rendered moot by Second Life's own evolution: You could insist that a virtual world must be a fully contiguous space, but in practicality, SL hasn't really been like that in years. For how it's used by 70% of its users, who rarely explore outside their log-in point, it might as well be a series of separate chat rooms.
All that to one side: It remains true that there is a proven market for 3D simulated worlds where user-generated content is possible and popular, and it's much larger than a million. (10-15 million seems like a more plausible number to me.) So I'd say the reasons for SL failing to pass that one million hurdle remain more vexing than a larger lack of interest.Tweet