It’s a comparison I’ve made many times before, Second Life and World Of Warcraft both sit proudly at the top of their respective classes. Despite technologically superior newcomers arriving, they have both fought them off, they both contain the social ingredient that has allowed them to thrive and enjoy greater longevity than many believed they could. I made the following point in a post at SLUniverse regarding the hurdles a new venture faces :
Second Life has a lot of similarities to World Of Warcraft, right place, right time, and they bagged those interested and despite falling numbers continue to have more than enough to make other ventures jealous beyond belief, despite others offering more modern options.
Along came Bagman Linden, AKA Jeff Petersen, Vice President of Engineering at Linden Lab who on his arrival at Linden Lab introduced himself via a blog post :
For me, the challenges and the opportunities at the Lab are a perfect fit for my background. I come to the Lab with over 20 years of experience as a game developer and engineering lead, primarily in the MMO area. Prior to joining Linden Lab, I spent 10 years working for Sony Online Entertainment doing MMO RPG development (with a focus on the networking, servers, and core technologies), along with PS3 and PSP development. Some of the titles that I worked on include: Everquest, Everquest II, Star Wars Galaxies, Planetside, Untold Legends PS3, Field Commander PSP, FreeRealms, and CloneWars Adventures.
Bagman disagreed slightly with my comparison of Second Life and World of Warcraft, Bagman feels that virtual worlds haven’t reached the World of Warcraft stage and that Second Life is more akin to Everquest, as he explained in a reply :
It’s interesting that you compare Second Life to World of Warcraft, as I have made similar comparisons myself, but come to different conclusions.
Before I joined Linden Lab a little over 3 years ago, I was at Sony Online Entertainment for over 10 years. I was part of the EverQuest development team for years, and at the time, EverQuest was the biggest MMO RPG on the market by far, and with the revenue it was generating, it was the envy of the industry.
For years EverQuest had similar user engagement and revenue to what Second Life has. I remember well at the time the common belief at Sony and in the rest of the industry was that EverQuest was a smashing success and people would be thrilled to match it.
Then Blizzard came along and created World of Warcraft, a product that was ultimately over 30 times more successful than EverQuest. We can speculate why that is, but I personally believe it came down to the quality and polish of their product. Fundamentally, the game was very similar.
The comparison that resonates with me is between Second Life and EverQuest. Both are similarly aging products with similarly sized user bases. Both at the top of their market segment. Both had countless people trying to bump them off with little success. We know how the story ends with EverQuest.
I believe the virtual worlds market is ripe for their own ‘World of Warcraft’ to come along and show us just how much bigger this market could be. And I don’t think you need to leave behind anything (concept wise) that made Second Life successful in order to see that growth. But you do need to raise the bar, and that is exactly what we intend to do.
Interesting stuff. I haven’t played Everquest, but I can see where Bagman is coming from here. He’s basically making the point that the virtual world market is ready for something really big to catch people and that what’s happened before is impressive, but possibly way below potential.
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