What Second Life Creator Linden Lab Could Learn from Eve Online Creator CCP. And the Vietnam War. And Jesus.
Online community academic John Carter McKnight has a very interesting post comparing the corporate strategy of Second Life creator Linden Lab and Eve Online creator CCP. Both worlds are profitable with a relatively niche userbase in the mid six figures, and like SL, as we saw from tragic events in Libya this week, Eve Online also has a passionate and supportive user community. But CCP's approach is different from Linden Lab's, and here's fundamentally how:
The core difference, I think, lies in accepting reality over institutional wishful thinking. Both EVE and SL are niche products, but with a very devoted base of users who’ve been around for a long time. The reality is, that’s the product. If you have dreams of huge successes (and why, really?), build another product. Especially in online communication and gaming, don’t try to pile stuff on a seven-year-old engine.
CCP moved away from doing that, McKnight argues, by rejecting the "Jesus feature" (what one Eve player called "the awesome idea that will solve all of CCP’s problems"), while Linden Lab is imitating the mistakes the US military made after fighting the Vietnam War. Yes, really:
[Consider] John Nagl’s Learning to Eat Soup With a Knife: Counterinsurgency Lessons From Malaya and Vietnam. Nagl looks at two institutions as similar as LL and CCP: the American and British armies, and two similar “products,” insurgent warfare in Southeast Asia. The two institutions developed radically differently from similar origins: Nagl says that the British learned from their early mistakes while the US doubled down on them.
I probably disagree somewhat on this analysis, because here's another crucial problem: Unlike Eve Online, which always was first and foremost an online game, Linden Lab and a lot of its own most passionate users convinced themselves Second Life was ready to become something more than a game. (I include myself in that category, at least at the start.) To extend the Vietnam analogy, it's as if the US Army treated insurgencies as a problem for the tourism industry. Or vice versa. Oh just read the whole thing already.
Hat tip: Second Life's Subreddit, submitted by "themittanidotcom".Tweet