Linden Lab CEO Ebbe Altberg was refreshingly honest in the first episode of Lab Chat last week (which Canary Beck nicely summarizes here), and at about 30 minutes in, acknowledges that Project Sansar will probably cannibalize Second Life:
"The cannibalization effect is obviously real and all I can say to that is that it’s better us than someone else. Because it’s going to be someone, someday.”
I'm not even sure that last assumption is correct, because virtual worlds with a strong community can thrive for quite awhile -- Ultima Online is still online after nearly 20 years. Anyway, the real revelation comes immediately afterward, in which Altberg says there's a possibility that Sansar cannibalizes Second Life enough to cause the SL economy to "implode", while the launch of Project Sansar somehow goes wrong. And then, says Altberg:
"Now you have two things that don’t really work rather than one thing that sort of works. [But] I don’t see if we have a choice."
Like I said, it's admirable for Ebbe to state the risks up front and give it straight to the Second Life community like that. Because he's very right that the risk is high:
To be sustainable, Project Sansar will surely need hundreds of thousands of users, and as a VR-enabled platform, it's going up against incredible competition -- people who might be interested in Sansar, but instead, may choose to spend their time in Oculus' own VR space, or High Fidelity, or whatever Valve is building, etc. etc. Though again, I disagree that there's no alternative but to take this risk: There are ways Second Life could be greatly updated to the modern era of 3D graphics and connectivity and attract new users and launch with a new, sustainable revenue model for years to come. But that's a topic for another post.
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