Fancy a bite,
Yum yum gee it’s fun,
Banging on a different drum,
There seems to be a concern in some quarters that Linden Lab’s Project Sansar is poised to eat Linden Lab’s Second Life. I’m not quite sure where this concern stems from and that’s before we mention that Linden Lab have another product; Blocksworld, which people don’t pay much attention to in terms of eating too much of the Linden Lab pie.
Yes, Project Sansar is the project that Linden Lab have most employees working on, yes it’s new and shiny, yes it will tie in better with HMD’s than Second Life does. None of this means that Second Life will be swallowed by the Project Sansar shark. A lot of the current concern seems to stem from the recent Lab Chat and a question from long time Second Life resident and all round good guy, Qie Niangao :
Assuming Sansar makes it into a revenue-generating beta, how will the Lab organization be structured to keep SL and Sansar from sabotaging each other’s success?
This has been a problem for the Lab, historically, most disastrously with the competition between Marketplace and the Land product, but this could be worse: the Sansar team has a natural incentive to cannibalize the Second Life business — but if that’s premature, LL could be left with no profit from either product. How will you prevent this?
(Yes, eventually Sansar’s market should be so large that the current Second Life business doesn’t even register as a blip on the adoption curve. But initially, Sansar Marketing will be tempted to feed off SL, potentially leaving neither platform viable).
Good question, which deserves a good answer and it pretty much got one from Ebbe Altberg, Linden Lab CEO :
Well, I’m not sure why we would try to sabotage ourselves in the first place. But they are two very separate teams, from product and design and engineering are two completely separate teams … at some point they meet-up in the organisation higher up, but they are working very independently today.
And there’s some pieces the two products will share. Clearly we don’t want to have to replicate the whole virtual economy pieces, and all the compliance work that goes with that, so that is something we try to make sure we only do once; and that will be a service both Sansar and Second Life will leverage. but other than that, the teams are free to work completely independently on what they think is best for them and their users every day.
However the answer went further, it went into the cannibalisation issue and that’s where things get a bit messy in the minds of some.
Yes, so this is the cannibalisation effect. It’s obviously real; and all I can say to that is, it’s better it’s us than someone else. Because it’s going to be someone, some day. and so we’ve decided it has to be us. It is a complex thing, and we want to make sure that we make it easy for users. Because in the beginning, Sansar might look all shiny and whatnot, but it’s not going to have the level of complexity and sophistication of Second Life, that’s been developed for almost 15 years now. It will take time for a lot of the things that you all love and do in Second Life to be something that you could completely do in Sansar.
Now there are a couple of ways of looking at this. One is that it seems that Project Sansar is seen to eat Second Life whole and not spit anything out, or you can look at it in terms of Second Life being in a slow decline and inevitably going to struggle to stay relevant in a fast changing market where Virtual Reality comes to the fore and can’t breathe in Second Life’s atmosphere. The former seems to spell the end of the virtual world of Second Life as we know it, whereas the latter offers hope that those who don’t jump on the hype train will still have somewhere to play. I favour and fully believe in the latter scenario.
Second Life is not a Virtual Reality world, it has lasted for over fifteen years without people needing to put on a HMD and immerse themselves in a VR universe, in short, Second Life is not the VR droids you are looking for and has a very healthy user base that no sensible company are going to turn away until it makes absolutely no sense to keep them around. That day is nowhere near here.
So really, people need to step back, look at what’s happening and realise that any virtual world may not be around forever, but Second Life has defied its critics for over 15 years now, what’s to say it won’t defy them for over 20?
The recent Lab Chat is now online, you can watch videos, read transcripts, you can find all the details here. The videos or transcripts are very much worth viewing/reading, there’s a lot of conversation. There’s a lot of positive discussion about Second Life there and in terms of Second Life looking to attract new users, the part about The Gateway Program is very relevant :
So, the Gateway Programme is of significant interest to us, because again … we want to make it possible for creators to attract their own audiences. We are in the testing phase … Laws, and all kinds of things have changed since we had gateways way back in the day, and it comes to who can collect what information, and what information can be stored where – so we have to get those pieces right. So the team has been working on it for quite a while, and we’re also going to make some improvements to the API so we can have a better experience for the Gateway Programme.
Obviously, we want to work first with people who are likely to be able to bring-in meaningful numbers of audiences. There’s no point in us having to manage thousands of gateway programmes that each bring in one user a week. So we want to clearly work with people who have the capacity and know-how to be able to attract meaningful numbers of users.
With the best will in the world, if Linden Lab were looking to shut Second Life, they would have absolutely no interest in spending time or money on The Gateway Program, a program designed to attract new users.
The future of Second Life lies not in the palm of what Project Sansar does or doesn’t do, it lies in the hands of what Second Life residents do and if enough Second Life residents want a Second Life, Linden Lab will keep the lights on. Many products have defied sell by dates, Floppy Disks and VHS being two glaring examples. Second Life could very well join that club and not only defy predictions, it could very well eat the cannibals that are circling it.
I eat cannibal,
You bring out the animal in me,
I eat cannibals.
The future may point to Project Sansar, but Second Life’s proud past gives it more oomph than many are giving it credit for.