Wednesday, January 29, 2014

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Relax: Rod Humble Leaves Linden Lab, But Second Life Steams On (With Surprises Still on the Way)

Midnight at Linden Lab

It only seems dark because it's evening again (for now)

It's day four since Rod Humble announced his departure as CEO from Linden Lab, and though I've asked the company three times for an official statement of some kind, I look in my inbox and see no reply. There may be good reason for that and I'd rather not jump to conclusions, but to judge by the messages I get from NWN readers and through Second Life social media channels, many are assuming this means the worst about the fate of SL. I have talked with insiders since then on background, and looking at it from my own perspective too, I will say this:

Rod Humble is gone and that is too bad for many reasons, but Second Life is doing fine (more or less). Not only that, some excellent surprises are coming soon:

While Rod launched a lot of non-SL products, some of which (especially Blocksworld and possibly Desura) seem to be getting traction, none of them are making as much money as Second Life. (That's true even though it's also true that Second Life's core revenue base continues to erode.) The improvements we've seen to the product are still being carried forward, and to those we'll soon see some new features, some of which I'm involved with. In fact, I can honestly say I haven't been as excited about Second Life now as I have been in several years. (More on that soon, promise.) And while it's still not clear who will lead Linden Lab into this new era of new VR and tablet technology, I can definitely say this 10 year old world still has a few more surprises -- for its citizens, and the wider world. Stay tuned.

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Hitomi Tiponi

Yes, we will have mobile and/or streamed versions of SL available soon, and User Experience gaming stuff is beginning to resurface.

Blocksworld and Desura were becoming successful before LL took them over and Blocksworld is a good fit, but they may want to sell Desura if they can get decent money for it. Let's hope Rod takes Versu and Dio with him - they are nice ideas that are going nowhere commercially. Creatorverse is nice but it may be time to pull out its cogs. That leaves Patterns, which seems a nice fit as well, but will it ever be a commercial success? Maybe it is better to spend the money on other projects.

I haven't even mentioned Occulus Rift support in SL but that is because, although bloggers and geeks may love it, it will remain irrelevant for over 95% of SL's user base.

djehan

I do not worry about the future of virtual worlds in general. I think it is interesting to hear what Shimon Perez had to say to an attendance of global leaders, about virtuality and its place within reality, the consequences of its use, I linked to the specified part of the video because that's obviously not the only subject of his speech, that was a few days ago at Davos :
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=eU2N6BofBSY&t=15m34s

Inara Pey

Subtle title reference there, Hamlet ;-).

@Hitomi

"That leaves Patterns, which seems a nice fit as well, but will it ever be a commercial success? Maybe it is better to spend the money on other projects."

Patterns has yet to launch "officially", but has established a reasonably good community of users along the way. In that respect it's still in the early adoption phase despite being just over a year old. There's been good feedback between those using it and the team developing it in terms of added features and capabilities. As such, I'd say it's too early to judge which side of the fence it will fall. That will likely come down to how much longer the Genesis phase is extended and just how much weight LL put behind it in marketing and promotion at launch & after.

"I haven't even mentioned Occulus Rift support in SL but that is because, although bloggers and geeks may love it, it will remain irrelevant for over 95% of SL's user base."

There will doubtless be immersive environments which take advantage of it, but I agree with your overall summation, and as a blogger, I'm not alone in that view, I can assure you ;-).

olehio

"It only seems dark because it's evening again" haha, wunderbar! thanks for this post, now perhaps i can stop checking NWN every 15 minutes `v´

Hitomi Tiponi

Thanks Inara. My worry with Patterns is that it will cost too much to make it a great product, unless they find some viral line to hang it on.

Jess

Wow new features this is great but how about a few old features missing that could return like lower tier and better customer service just call me old fashioned.

2014

so is the sky falling? or not falling on this post?

Dartagan Shepherd

@2014 You're really the only one that claims the sky is falling, that I've seen. Most people I think are more practical even when dealing with the negatives and possibility of a sale or closure.

If they had the money to spend on other produts and employees they're not broke.

Not sure why they do this secrecy act though. Whatever plans they have aren't hurt by sharing them and people aren't going to faint in shock when they find out what they are.

cathartes aura

@2014 it's falling. one scenario. vc's shopping for a buyer. sell it to the largest land baron. limps along for a few years more. you try to login one day and nothing there. no more SL. just dead space. what then?

2014

there is always IWz... snickers

Metacam Oh

Second Life has to be so secretive with all their products because isn't it obvious, there are so many Second Life competitors they may steal their ideas :) lol So instead of getting current customers and former customers excited by letting us know what's coming down the pipe, they operate in silence like they are building the atomic bomb. Linden Lab as a company is awfully run, awful.

Pussycat Catnap

If the sky falls, it falls.

/shrug

I love SL, I love what I have in SL.

But I've taken to seeing it as a casual entertainment and relaxation. Log in, chat a bit, explore a bit, or just sit around enjoying my avatar and the "toys" of my land - playing around taking screenshots and such.

If it all goes away, I will be sad - but life goes on and I'll take the money I pay in tier and do something else with it.

If it means I have to be one of those people that logs into an MMO just to sit in an 'inn' and chat for a few years - so be it.

Heck, if I end up having to go into some OpenSim... I will, if it has enough people and I can actually make an African Neko Avatar...

But I don't ever see SL as being more than a toy now. Not without some major changes in the corporate culture at Linden Lab. So... enjoy it for what it is, while it is...

Whether its here or not tomorrow - just is.

Iggy

Rod Humble, please don't let the sky hit you on the way to your next job.

One wonders, given all of US as the customer base, who'd be crazy enough to be LL CEO?

I am not counting on anyone turning around the slow ebbing of the SL revenue-stream, as private estates go dark at the rate of 2 to 4 every day. I'm not counting on anyone buying up LL in order to use its cutting edge (ahem) technologies and happy customer base. I'm not counting on the box-on-head Rift as the savior of virtual worlds with lots of UGC. I'm not counting on Philip Rosedale riding back on a white cyberhorse with Hi-Fi plans for SL 2.0.

But it would be very cool if any of these happen. Where can you find the range of UGC and population/community elsewhere online?

I'm waiting for an answer to that one. OpenSim does work well enough for small groups building simulations in academe, but it's not big enough yet for the synergy that SL provides.

Veeyawn Spoonhammer

Hamlet are you suggesting SL will come to Steam with your snappy title?

Steve Avro

Linden Labs should have acquired CloudParty and blended the two technologies together into SL 2.0. Web based Viewer, Better Building tools with Voxel... would have been the most logical & rational to move the technology & acceptance ahead.

Masami
"Hamlet are you suggesting SL will come to Steam with your snappy title?"

I think the title was meant to suggest that there is a meltdown in progress.

SoftPaws

Anyone looking for opensim hosting please watch out for this scammer we broke our story here

= http://grid-press.com/2014/01/is-sasso-safe/

Orca Flotta

And the orice for the bestest comment goes to \o/ Jess! \o/

Zacly, hun, 99% of us don't care about the box-on-head rift, 95% of us have never heard of it. 90% wouldn't be able to use it with their currrent 300 US$ bargain basement hardware. Heck, the Rift would be more costly than their laptops. And 100% won't give a flying wet towel about other games our dear hosting company added to their portfolio. The people we see here on the various blogs and forums are just a very very miscrospic group of "educated" SL users. The vast majority just doesn't care.

People are not as half as geeky as The Lab seems to think. What they want and expect from LL is indeed just better service, better communication from the lab, lower tiers and more user friendliness.

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