If anyone in the tech and VR industry (not to mention the Second Life userbase) had any impression that Linden Lab was mainly walking away from SL to focus on Sansar, CEO Ebbe Altberg just sent out a mass e-mail announcing major updates to the 14 year old metaverse.
- We are hard at work upgrading all of the SL infrastructure and moving it to the cloud, which will bring a wealth of opportunities to Residents near and far, and allow us, among many other things, to make SL more performant for Residents across the world from us. It may also allow us to introduce new products with more flexible pricing.
- We're building out a series of great extensions to Windlight (code name: EEP!), which will give value, flexibility, and new marketability to land, and will make Windlight settings tradeable assets.
- We have an extension to the animation system in the works (code name: Animesh) that will allow non-avatar objects to use more powerful and efficient skeletal animations the way avatars can today, and even more changes planned for creators and merchants later in the year.
- We’ve also got new experiences and events coming. An exciting new grid-wide gaming experience is coming soon!
Emphasis mine. The top key points for me are the hints at land-based discounts, cloud deployment, and the grid-wide game:
Updating Second Life from its ancient connected server architecture to a cloud-based system could vastly improve the user experience. Ebbe adding that "[i]t may also allow us to introduce new products with more flexible pricing" is a strong hint at land discounts, because with cloud deployment, a given sim does not have to be "online" if no user is accessing it -- so perhaps Linden Lab is planning to change land costs from a flat monthly rate to a "pay per use" rate. (Just my interpretation.)
As for a grid-wide game, I've been begging Linden Lab to add that for years, as it could be a great way to increase engagement among the existing userbase (which has been slowly, surely eroding), and give the many new users an incentive to keep logging in to explore. Some Linden Lab staff have been trying to add game mechanics to Second Life for many years, but have been stymied by bureaucracy and fear of protests by the minority of hardcore "Second Life is not a game!" users. Looks like, at last, we'll finally get our grid-wide system after all -- hopefully not before it's too late.
All that said, if you haven't gotten the e-mail yourself, read the full announcement here.
Hat tip: Microsoft Senior Creative Technologist and dedicated SLer James T. Reichert.