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Friday, March 11, 2011


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Rowan Derryth

I actually think that one of the WORST image problems SL has is it's very name. For the general public, "Second Life" somehow implies that there is something faulty with your "First Life". Who thought of that?

Ordinal Malaprop

Getting new users is completely irrelevant if they do not stay. If they can't find anything or communicate they will not stay. (These things are actually _much more important_ for new residents than us old crusty sorts, who already know people and can use other avenues to find things and chat.) Therefore these are absolutely essential.

Sim capacity is not a significant issue because there are so few instances where there are that many people in a sim anyway. The huge majority of sims _wish_ they had issues with capacity. A few headlining events are not an efficient means of maintaining an SL population, and there are other ways of organising events rather than the RL-based "festival" model.

SL is still very much text-based in terms of communication, most people with consoles do not have keyboards for them, so they won't stay if provided with a console version because without interaction SL is a few pretty things to look at which you soon get bored with. Particularly if you can't find new pretty things via search, which you wouldn't be able to do without a keyboard anyway.

Rebranding is significant in some markets which LL seems mostly to have abandoned; it doesn't matter to potential residents much in my opinion, just potential education and corporate users, and they are being actively discouraged it seems.

Vivito Volare

A number of search engine license their technology for customers to apply to their own databases. This would seem a worthwhile thing to explore if it hasn't been already.


A console version, like a browser-based version, Facebook app version, cloud-rendered version, mobile version, etc. would obviously increase sign-ups, but no new medium will solve the huge churn rate Second Life has right now.

I believe you said before Second Life only retains 5% of new sign-ups, so at best it'd keep 5% of those that try it on something like Xbox 360 or PS3, no? Doesn't sound like its much worth prioritizing new mediums right now if that's the case.

Whatever will save Second Life rectifies the churn issue. Those 95% of people that try and quit anyway obviously weren't bothered by Second Life's branding or not being on console, or they never would've tried in the first place.

I think we've all brought friends to Second Life, and can notice exactly where they've dropped off never to return. We all can recall our initial reactions to a lot of things that have nothing to do with the medium or branding. The expectations of sims loading like game levels, the expectations of clothing to be equipped like game gear, the expectations of camera controls to resemble anything at all familiar.

I'm willing to bet a good deal of those 95% avatars logged off never to return have what they believed to be a jacket attached to their right hand as a box and are stuck in some unstoppable dance loop.

Second Life still needs a whole lot of work; from the initial 5 minutes with the viewer to long term billing relationships with the Lab's pricing strategies and everything inbetween.

There's little point in expanding ways to access Second Life right now when the absolutely guaranteed result based on best evidence we have right now is creating more ex-Second Life users than long term ones.



Second Life uses Google Appliance now...lotta folks prefer the viewer-based search in 1.#. Not that anything is wrong with Google Appliance but it isn't well implemented into Second Life.


I think ArminasX is right on the money, for at least 4 out of 5. If Search worked for multiple search terms... If communication was vastly improved... If sims were able to support 100's or 1000's of people at once, etc. Chances of retention would be much higher if it was easy to hop on and immediately populate your profile with your friends, find and equip a good-looking avatar, jump to an event with lots of people and be able to experience that all without a crushing weight of lag and chat spam.

It's really too bad there's not effective 2-way messenging and friends lists through AIM or Plurk or something outside of the grid. It's a shame that you can't join groups or see cached and collated group notices on a website...
... or a way to share and publicize your outfits so, for instance, you could happen across an SL fashion blog and immediately try the outfit on your own avatar and buy if you like it.

Lots of dramatic growth and improvements could be covered under the headings of improved search and communication.

Thaiis Thei

"Truly, improving anything related to the first 5 minutes of a new user's SL experience is much more important."

I am frankly amazed to hear you say this because;

(a) It's basic business that it's more cost effective to keep existing customers than to get new ones.

(b) That's like saying a big fuck you to all the existing residents. Think noobs are more important? What would happen if all the existing residents split? Instant death that's what.

I would be dead surprised if SL didn't do well if turned into a subscription service. LL just need to offer value for money. The problem with this right now is that they have alientated so many people for so long by taking their money and not giving them what they said they would, i.e. not any actual support (or anything of any worth at all) with Premium accounts, that people don't trust them any more. A new owner would solve this problem.



That whole sentiment comes with the assumption improving the first 5 minutes for new users wouldn't improve the next 5 years for new and existing users alike.

Dunno how you created an existing user vs. new user situation out of that, but the only difference between us and newcomers is demonstrated willingness to tolerate problems. '5 minutes' is just figurative anyway, the decision to quit or stay could come at any time, but the problems are fairly exact and are shared between new and existing users alike. So fixes for either are fixes for both.

Alexandra Rucker

Sometimes, Hamlet, it just seems like you miss. the point. entirely. Try this list for size:

1) Search that works - people can't buy it IF THEY CAN'T FIND IT. If they can't find it? No Traffic. No traffic? No customers. No customers? No tier/rent payments.

2) Communication that works - It's frustrating when you're trying to help someone new and your message doesn't cross the group for five minutes, meanwhile the newbie decides "screw this" and logs off before your message gets through, possibly never to return.

3) AR's that actually get some attention for valid problems, such as chronic stalking and harassment.

4) Get the existing userbase engaged again, and happy about SL. Happy users = happy customers = good word-of-mouth convincing NEW people to give it a go.

Ignatius Onomatopoeia

I'm 5 for 5 here in terms of agreement, but rebranding really tops my list.

The name "Second Life" needs to go. Even if it does not suggest some nefarious hidden life, it's tainted as a "might-have-been" tech spawned like Athena from Philip's utopian cranium.

Some time ago, while giving an OpenSim demo to some of our campus technologists, one of them remarked "no one talks about Second Life any more."

Damning evidence from edu-land, for what that counts.

Adeon Writer

Now Hamlet, I know you aren't trolling, and I respect your opinion, but I am continually amazed at how you have the exact polar opposite opinion as me on so many things. :)

If you were to ask which 2 things on that list were the least important, I'd INSTANTLY, without even needing to think, tell you that they are a Console version and Rebranding, as not only are these unimportant, but they are BAD ideas.

We don't need the console community in SL. Have you heard of Playstation Home? It's filled with 7 year olds. Excuse my layman's terms and sheer dismissal of the youth, but do you want a virtual world that makes money, or one that doesn't suck?

The gaming console demographic couldn't be more uninterested in social virtual worlds. Especially with a medium like a gamepad controller.

Rebranding is more of a neutral issue, I can't think of any reason to get rid of the name Second Life, if anything it keeps out people who judge books by their covers. (A good thing to keep out!)

Now, the remaining three on the list would actually be things the community has been BEGGING Linden to do for a very long time, and would actually improve the world. Search that works. Communication that works. And more than 100 people in one area (with the ability to not lag into oblivion, of course.)

How can we possibly be so opposite?



Xbox Live Audience Profile:

61 percent male
39 percent female

70 percent are 18-34
20 percent are 35-44

88 percent have a household income of greater than $30,000
37 percent have a household income of greater than $100,000



It's probably worth assuming Playstation Network isn't much different. So that fear of a community dominated by 7 year olds isn't worth holding on to.

I also highly doubt Second Life is completely devoid of console owners, so in my opinion it's a bit too late to start worrying about what effect console owners will have on Second Life.

The real skinny is that Second Life on console would make it accessible to tens of millions of new adults who've never tried Second Life before.

Whether or not those tens of millions of people would actually try it however is somewhat relevant to existing brand reception, and whether or not they'd stay after enjoying it depends on all those other suggestions plus a thousand more not on the list.

A console version would be fine, but the other four suggestions are definitely the kinds of things that would help greatly to precede such a thing.

Moggs Oceanlane

Says rebranding/renaming might work if things change as part of the rebranding but if it's a new name for what's there with little else then it's just Windows Vista to Windows 7 - we'll all be left rolling our eyes.

Adeon Writer

Perhaps the 360 community is more mature, I wouldn't know as I don't have the console. But I do know that Playstation Home, the console-SL at the moment, is basically the Waterhead Welcome area, only the whole map, and you can't move around well due to controls.

Arcadia Codesmith

New User Experience:

The 3D virtual world and MMO industry has conventions for user interfaces, and ignoring them is like building a Windows app with the shortcut keys mapped to the "wrong" functions.

SL ought to have a simple but robust "offline" character customizer that is usable before a user first appears in world.

The interface for this should also double as a preview pane so you can modify your outfit anywhere without inadvertantly flashing the world.

On first login, there should be an instanced "quest" to learn the interface. You don't dump folks into the deep end cold. You don't give them some so-called tutorial that presumes that they can figure out HUDs before they start.

Take them by the hand and guide them step by step in a little pocket dimension inhabited only by the new user and friendly bots. Build it into the client so they can't screw it up by accidentally resizing the HUD or attaching it to their right ear.

Once they've mastered the basics, then you can release them into a welcome area, preferably a strictly-monitored space with zero tolerance for griefing.

And the minute they arrive in world, they should already be able to use a robust SEARCH tool to find REAL events (eff your effin' "yard sales" and other crappy non-events -- weed the shills out with vigor).

They ought to be able to get into a show to hear a popular band with more than 40 screaming fans (concerts routinely cap the sim).

And they ought to be able to join a group chat about the band that isn't a lagtastic epic fail.

In brief, new users need many of the same features that will retain existing users.

I'm not certain about consoles until we have a good enough engine to really shine as a game platform.

And a big "no" to rebranding. I've never seen a successful rebrand in the VW/MMO space. If you want an untarnished name, don't replace the name: remove the tarnish.

Unless you're dying to have us called "the virtual world formerly known as..."


Most of the people I know who tried Second Life and didn't stay, did so because of the people in Second Life. They found the people in SL to be largely rude, uncommunicative, and perverted.

To solve that problem would be to solve the problem of humanity.

Personally, these discussions I come across on blogs surprise me. I have been a member of SL since 2006 and I don't have all these problems people are always complaining about I don't know why. Maybe it's a "glass is half-full vs. half-empty" kind of thing.

I enjoy logging into my sim each day to build stuff, explore and attend the occasional music event. If the day comes that there is no SL to log into, I'll just go for a RL walk or call up some friends to go for a drink. Yes, I would feel sad but would move on. Nothing lasts forever, so enjoy SL for while it lasts and stop worrying about it so much.

The worst experiences that I have had in SL also have had to do with the people in SL. How do you solve that?

Adeon Writer

I do agree entirely, the biggest problem new users face is not being welcome, landing areas for new users are the most trollish and laggy places on the grid. I was orbited and veiwer crashed numerous times in my first month before I learned there were better areas to visit. I'm very thankful I had the patience TP find that out. Most never make it out of the dangerous welcome areas and that becomes their entire exit opinion of SL.

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