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.
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.
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?
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.