Monday, January 14, 2008

Second Life is Dead, Welcome to the Post-Mortem Era!

If you look around in the news, people are trying very hard to "prove", without a shadow of doubt, that Second Life is basically dead. The economy has stagnated; nobody wants to buy land; companies are moving out; other social networks are catching up; every tiny company that has one programmer and a designer are launching their own virtual world, and they all will be "faster, better, cheaper" than Second Life.

Linden Lab is also getting more tyrannical and shutting down everything attractive in SL. From gambling to ageplay to age validation to banking, with each blow, SL becomes poorer, and hordes of people are leaving. The markets crash. Insatisfaction rises. And, well, there is now only the mature content left to entertain the masses; with age validation, or the lack thereof, this will naturally also be deleted.

With nobody around having fun, everybody's closing down shop, and moving away, never to return. Or at least that's what I get from everybody I talk to: the media, the potential customers, the opinion makers. Even some of my partners frown upon me and ask if I haven't lost my mind and are too stubborn by remaining faithful to Second Life.

Enter the post-mortem era of Second Life. The virtual world is dead, but now you have to attend to the corpses as well. And, surprisingly, the corpses are a nice market. In fact, they're buying sims, and expect a return on their investment. And they do invest a lot! My company, a developer for Second Life, is getting more contracts in just these couple of weeks of January than on the same date a year ago (where the economy was blooming, according to the analysts). And they come from all areas — media, government, land rentals, small businesses, service industry. And they don't even discuss prices a lot; they want it done, quickly, and pay well.

So what's happening? Are people basically ignoring what the media are saying? Well, not really, because the first words I get when sitting down on a meeting are invariably: "Before we start... everybody says that SL is dying or even already dead. What do you think?" I point out to some statistics, like saying that there will be more registered users in SL than on Facebook by the end of the year; and that, overall, there hasn't been any visible reduction on either the economy or the land sales or the number of new accounts registered daily or the peak usage... so it's just the media panicking...

The strangest thing is, they listen. And after a few days or weeks, depending on the company, they are ready to start committing to an investment in Second Life. Weird. Why flog a dead horse?...

Well, perhaps, after all, the horse is not dead yet. It's just the bookies that are changing the odds. And perhaps it's now the time to place a bet and reap the benefits later, when people suddenly find out that, after all, the dead are still alive and kicking... and making the world spin.


  1. Where have a read this before? Was it Silicon Snake Oil?

    Was it every paper or tech-magazine I was reading in 1999 who predicted the collapse of the Internet due to pick-one:-
    It's full of porn

    The overloaded amount of traffic

    Government regulation (or lack of)

    Businesses would never set up shop on something so insecure

    Oh hang..Did we just hit a new concurrency high yesterday?

    Well that's obvious proof that Second Life is well on it's way out.

  2. What's clearly happening is that all the people that entered SL with inflated expectations have left, leaving us to a more natural growth rate. It makes our jobs as developers easier because we can better manage expectations.

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  4. Gwyn, I think that many of us are complaining about SL but extremely few are saying that SL is dead. It is a fake argument to dismiss the criticism of SL by caricaturing it as "Second Life is Dead". If you wanted to show a positive take on SL you should have done just that, without making it look better by putting it in contrast with a exaggerated doom.

    I just wanted to add something to the above but I ended up deleting the previous comment. I am probably particularly put off today by a story like this because of seeing the hype engine getting a new wind with the new year. There's also a lesson in there for everyone: close the comments if you want to keep the message positive.

  5. This echoes what I've heard from the tech community in Los Angeles, those who are NOT inworld. They only see the gloss and buy into the technology fads, so SL must be dead in their eyes if it's not in the papers. They've bought into the 12 minutes per user stats and are preaching to the masses to avoid SL at all costs.

    I'm more agnostic and thankful that some of the louder big businesses are moving on.

  6. @Lem, ... but keep the comments open to see if the irony sinks in :)

    I'd say, it did :)

  7. I agree,sl id dead,or in the throes of it,businesses are closing,rapidly,big and small,the massive 'freebie' and reseller marjet is making things so bad that that content creators are giving their creations away free or for a $L1 just to get traffic in the door,false traffic as it is because they grab the freebie and run,I experience this on a daily basis with my own business,I've been a resident in various guises for 3 years,I've never seen so much land for sale and unsold in all those 3 years,I've watched in the last year as business after business folded,prices on creations go from 2k to 1 linden just to get a sale,anyone who thinks sl isn't dying is either blind or in denial

  8. just cashed out all my linden! forgot i had some in the account woohoo! US economy sucks so i really dont trust second life economy lol

  9. SL can be useful. The technology is interesting. Will it still be in 5 years?

  10. To be honest, i have been in and out of secondlife over the last 3 or so years, never really spending to much time in it.

    A few days ago i went back in to take a look, and it seems dead to me. Years before, i could find people everywhere without looking very hard, i found dance events where i could listen to live dj's, i could even just find some decks and start streaming in game.

    Now, i fly around for nearly an hour, can't find anyone, goto the recommended sites (since there is not population listing anymore) and it was a ghost town. Tried dance island, found a few people, seemed like they were just camping though.

    I cant even find the island i used to goto regularly (was some rave based island).

    Infact all i find is well developed buildings and areas with no one in them and nothing to do.

    Yet i see articles like this saying SL is getting bigger?

    Is everyone hiding in the mature areas?

    I have probably spent less than 50hrs total in second life, which is enough to know how to use and move around the virtual world. Good luck to any real newbies who enter like i did and find it to be a virtual ghost town.

    Please tell me, where is everyone.

  11. Second Life: Oh geez. Surely one of the major reasons SL is dead is because, besides the clever programming, it's an utterly stupid concept...? I say to anyone who has spent more that a day on Second life: "Get a life." What a waste of time.