Ebbe Altberg Talks to The Irish Times About Second Life and Sansar

Outside Blarney Stone

Marie Boran of The Irish Times has been talking to Linden Lab CEO Ebbe Altberg about Sansar and, inevitably, that also means talking of Second Life too.

The article is entitled Virtual reality is giving Second Life a second lease of life and although it starts off with some negative commentary around Second Life, the article actually goes on to make some positive points about Second Life.

The article also points out that Linden Lab do not consider Sansar to be a replacement for Second Life :

The idea is not to replace Second Life or even phase it out, says Altberg, who describes it as “a very healthy virtual world that will be very healthy for a long time to come”. It is celebrating its 14th birthday this summer and continues to have a dedicated team continually improving content and interaction experiences.

An interesting point is made regarding Second Life in terms of it not being easy to find what to do unless you’re inside Second Life and have familiarised yourself with the platform. Sansar will take a different approach, but let’s not forget that Second Life has also started to take a different approach, when Linden Lab announced that places pages are available to all land owners, the blog post also mentioned :

Many of these pages will also soon be discoverable via popular search engines, such as Google. This means that more people than ever have the potential to learn about your Second Life place!

Sansar sounds as if it will start with the aim of being more easily discoverable for people.

Sansar Screenshot 2

The article raises a point related to my previous article, the cost of VR headsets is currently expensive and VR is currently a niche market, due to content largely being around gaming. Linden Lab are hoping to change that niche market and as we know from Second Life, there are many varied uses for virtual worlds, fantasy roleplaying, education, socialising, live music and much more, as well of course, games.

Linden Lab are also hoping to make creating experiences easier, with the obvious link that the easier it is for people to create experiences, the more experiences will be created and they in turn will be varied experiences.

The article also touches upon reach, as has been discussed before, Sansar will be instanced, this will mean more people can visit an experience. Second Life has a limit of 110 avatars and starts to creak at times under that load, in Sansar, as instancing is an option, many times more that amount of people will be able to attend an experience, although they won’t all be in the same instance.

Second Life Image - Steampunk Pirate Ship

The revenue model of Sansar is also once again discussed, and it’s worth raising again. The Tier won’t be too damn high in Sansar as Linden Lab are taking a different approach to revenue, as Ebbe Altberg explains :

Altberg says that it will be considerably different from Second Life where users had to pay to own land or have access to a simulator: “We believe this model is too expensive and meanwhile we have this massive GDP, none of which Linden Lab captures.”

He says it is a bit like a real-world situation where there is massive property tax but zero consumption tax. Sansar will most likely take a piece of the sales or a transactional fee, and they are looking into a monthly subscription fee to own or operate a simulation with the possibility of owners charging for entrance or requesting a donation fee from visitors.

John Mahon, the owner of Virtual Dublin in Second Life who looks set to rebuild it as he returns to a more hands on role over the regions makes some interesting points about why it won’t be that easy for Second Life users to just walk away and join Sansar. A lot of time and money has been invested by Second Life users, but as stated earlier, Linden Lab are not looking at Sansar as a replacement for Second Life and that makes perfect sense.

Dublin by River

Ebbe Altberg suggests that people shouldn’t think of Sansar in geographically limiting terms :

“It will be destinations and experiences rather than cities. Why not visit Joyce’s Dublin, medieval Dublin, ‘true’ Dublin or a better Dublin?”

I haven’t seen Sansar and I am not sure of its setup but I have long had the belief that Sansar will be different to Second Life in terms of it not being all under one hood. I am guessing here, but I suspect that Sansar experiences will in some cases be stand alone ventures, rather than teleporting around and that the experience will be at the fore, medieval Dublin running on Sansar technology, rather than medieval Dublin in Sansar.

Time will tell as to how this pans out, according to the Irish Times article, Sansar will go open Alpha this summer.

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