The End of Second Life?

Everything ends. It is just a matter of when. We hear this story of Second Life™ ending all the time. It is not new. Lots of Chicken Little. That SL has not ended, does not mean it won’t. The sky COULD fall. But, I think we will have plenty of warning should the end draw near.

mediterranean girl

Mediterranean girl by Annahyss Resident, on Flickr

I came to Second Life from Myst Online, which has closed and come back a number of times. So, I’m used to games I like closing. Rizom is another one I liked and played for a time. It too closed and came back. Others just closed. 

Second Life, if it closes, is not likely to come back. With petabytes of content it would be hard for a fan group to bring up the servers or get access to all that content. I suppose some people would move to OpenSim. But, by the time a Second Life closing would happen we will likely have a Facebook, Steam, Microsoft, and other big name virtual worlds.

I jump into this because Juicy Bomb has an article on her blog about the ending of Second Life. Remember. It is Aemeth speaking/writing not Gogo. See: Observing Two Sides Of The Mirror.

Aemeth thinks SL will end in 2019… may be that will happen. Four years is a long time in the computer world. Aemeth thinks the Next Generation Platform (NGP), Project SANSAR, will fail. I think that is rather pessimistic speculation.

Smile With Your Eyes

Smile With Your Eyes by Desiree Davison, on Flickr

I do think creation of the NGP world will split users into groups. There will be those that move to NGP and leave Second Life. There will be those that spend time in both worlds. There will also be those that decide they do not like NGP and stay only in SL. That will split up the number of users and decease logins for both SL and NGP. But, as both are Linden Lab properties, the Lab is not likely to see a decrease in users from having the two products.

However, SL already seems empty if you don’t know how to find the hot spots where people are hanging out. So, the decrease in user count in an individual product may be a problem. There is a point under which an MMO’s concurrent user count seems to lead to failure from lack of interest.

Remember the Longevity in Second Life study? (I covered it here: Improving Second Life Player Retention) The big finding is the thing that MOST influences people to return is interaction with other players. So, the number of concurrent users is an important issue. Dividing up the user base and decreasing concurrent user counts is not a good thing to do.

We do have the coming of VR revival. This is sure to bring in huge numbers of new users. So, the new influx of users could more than offset the decrease from dividing the user base. But, we are far into the world of speculation when we make these guesses. We don’t know what will happen or what things we have not even thought of may pop up.

There is also the possibility that the Lab will handle the problems that users find too annoying to tolerate, like lag. They may be able to lower the initial learning curve, but I’m not putting any money on that one. Whatever, they may do something that attracts and holds more users with NGP. They are also working to improve Second Life. So, Aemeth’s thinking that they will build new, fail, go back and try – too late – to save SL is not acknowledging the reality: they are doing both simultaneously. So, it won’t be a matter of doing it too late.

Aemeth’s advice is that we all start planning for the end of Second Life, especially if you make a living from SL. I agree about the planning, but for mostly different reasons. That ‘planning’ is the smart thing to do. A five year plan would need to include the eventuality of SL ending. But, it also needs to include the eventuality that SL would continue, grow, stay the same, or devolve and die. What would you do in each of those scenarios? Is there something you need to do to prepare for them?


FINESMITH – INVERT by Caprycia, on Flickr

It would be smart to include the same planning for the eventuality of NPG failing or succeeding to some measure. Also, including Facebook, Samsung, Microsoft, and others trying to cash in on the VR thing should be a consideration. How well will they do? Will they steal Second Life’s users? Or will they bring in millions more users that don’t play in SL now?

There is the doom and gloom version of Second Life’s future… run for the hills it is dying. I don’t share that Chicken Little vision. There is also the possibility of a booming array of new virtual worlds. I believe there will be a huge demand for immersive experiences in the new 3D VR worlds. That will generate a whole new demand for ‘things’ to put in those worlds, content. This is what I am looking forward to and planning for.

What one thing becomes most important as a step in that planning? I suppose that depends on what you want to do in the new worlds. If you are a creative type and plan to build content, then learning Blender or Maya is likely the best preparation you can make… other than making a plan.

12 thoughts on “The End of Second Life?

  1. Pingback: El ¿futuro? de Second Life (Revisión 2015)

    • This article is interesting, but seems to ignore the positive possibilities in SL’s future.

      The article presupposed that SL is NOT technologically up to date. There are things in SL that we cannot do that are possible on other platforms like Unity and Unreal. Scripting is definitely a bit of a dinosaur in SL. But, there is little in SL that is not state of the art. It isn’t so much that SL doesn’t use the tech as it has limits on how far we can take some of the tech.

      For instance mesh morphing and animation. SL uses morphs to animate the avatar’s face. Morphs are used to shape the avatar. But, we cannot make our own morphs and load them into SL. So, it isn’t like the tech isn’t there. It just isn’t implemented in a way that users can take advantage of. It is both correct and incorrect to say this tech isn’t there, depending on your viewpoint.

      • My view is that SL is NOT technically up to date and every time i buy a super new computer I’m reminded of this where there is no boost to performance. if you asked me why Linden Lab are even working on NGP i’d say it’s because things like new VR technology, mobile Tech, and current rendering technology are a joke on SL.

        • The performance is limited by the connexion speed. You can buy the best computer but as in all online games the bottle neck will be your internet speed.

          • It can be. But, there are several factors that can bottleneck game streaming. I don’t use anywhere near the capacity of my connection. My computer limits me well before my connection does.

  2. I think if everyone keeps talking about the end then people will leave, more numbers and faster.
    It might be the lab is trying its very hardest to improve second life so it remains around another decade or two.
    Ebbe might be trying desperately to keep it alive for the long run as long as he can keep the board of directors happy with it, ..This “self-fulfilling prophecy” might lead it to doom when it otherwise would have not had to happen.
    Key words from Ebbe Linden: The grid will be around as long as ‘it’ can keep itself profitable with no reason to discontinue it.

    I beg everyone across the other websites to stop the grid is dying drama, it’s what is shrinking the grid now since the last SLBB , If an end has to come come it won’t be the lindens who killed it but the residents.please for the love of god!

    • You seem to be of the school of thought that thinks people can be controlled by what you tell them, allow them to hear. It is a type of thinking held by dictators and other politicians. In many ways it is just arrogant to think people are not smart enough to think for their selves. You might want to think the idea through a bit farther.

  3. Did I just read too fast or did you not mention High Fidelity? Since the Lab decided to cut Linux support, after they broke the Linux viewer completely (3.7.28 is not working at all right now), I am more sure than ever that we cannot rely on a single corporation to run our virtual world. We need an open source solution, which Philip Rosedale is currently building. So I am bullish about that. Imagine the Internet was owned and built by one company, it would never have become that big and successful.

    • If virtual worlds run on some ubiquitous software like the Apache web server, it would make for an interesting scenario. I think HF is hoping that is the way things will go and is working toward that end.

      I agree that open source would be a good thing.

  4. It’s a fact that LL did more key improvements in the last 2 years than in the last decade.
    Any business holder knows that when one rolls up his sleeves it’s a clear sign that something is not going as expected.

  5. HI, read your article and readers comments, any feedback from Linden Labs?
    I’ve been in SL since late 2008, and have seen SL organically grow, then shrink at times, change is inevitable, but how ??

    Cheers, caramia

  6. Pingback: A pornographic tour | Second Sighting

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