Two Ways SLers Can Save Second Life in Linden Lab's Post-Second Life Era -- and One Way It Can't
Bob Komin's end as Linden Lab's CFO, as I said, is a good place to mark the beginning of the company's post-Second Life era, but that doesn't mean the end of SL itself. In fact, if SLers are realistic about the world's limitations, and what it needs to grow, there's still a good chance it can be renewed. Here's two ways to do that - and one way it won't happen:
- DON'T: Keep asking Linden Lab to lower land tier prices
- DO: Create DayZ style hits in SL
- DO: Integrate gaming systems into a noob-friendly third party SL viewer
Let me explain each point one by one:
On tier prices:
Linden Lab will very likely not lower these any time soon. It's an utter non-starter. CEO Rod Humble wont even address the question. Why? Because most SL land is owned by a small number of "barons", and if their tier prices are cut, Linden will suffer a huge blow to revenue. They can make more money keeping tier prices where they are, and can then plow that profit into a war chest to sustain themselves years after SL private land finally, inevitably, withers away. That's what is happening now. So just. Stop. Asking.
That said, there is one condition in which the company might lower tier -- substantial growth of active users. Maybe several hundred thousand. Because then the company has a meaningful market to replace its lost land revenue with other streams. How to add more users? Two ways that have been done before:
On a DayZ-style hit:
DayZ, the zombie survival MMO, is one of the most popular games on Steam right now, but here's the interesting thing: It's actually a mod of Arma II, an older game few actually played. In the same way, a multiplayer game built within SL using the new game-centric tools and launched totally apart from the usual first-time user experience, could find a new audience, whether they give a damn about Second Life or not. And the thing is, there are already successful mini-MMOs like Bloodlines in SL, even without the new tools. What will grow these SL-based games? That brings me to my third point:
On a third party SL viewer with game systems:
The Phoenix third party viewers are more popular than Linden Lab's own viewing software. Unfortunately (if understandably), these viewers have been tailored to existing hardcore power users. However, a version of viewers like these, integrated to a simplified viewer interface, and gaming systems that would support MMOs and other games, could become even more popular. (Again, consider DayZ as an example of a mod that's more popular than the original game.)
Doing all this will take a lot of work, yes, and probably require several Kickstarters. (Then again, there have been successful crowdfunders around SL content already.) But at this point, it should be clear to all SLers that this is the only way forward. With Linden Lab devoting less and less time and attention to Second Life, it falls to SL users to give the world a reason to keep existing -- not just to themselves, but the millions who might be interested, if they were just given the right opportunity. The alternative is to remain insular and do nothing... and go the way of The WELL.
Original photo by Joss Widdowson.