Hamlet has looked at the recent figures coming out of the Lab showing a decline in the number of private islands and has once again called for radical changes that will have the missing millions flooding onto the grid. Beyond saying that these changes must be radical, however, he is offering no real way forward – and personally, I remain unconvinced that the millions are out there, thirsting for a taste of Second Life that some radical change would give them – which could be accomplished without decimating the (declining) user base that is keeping Second Life afloat.
An alternative that many people are calling for is to cut tier. But Tateru Nino has analysed why that would be largely impractical in a great article here – and Inara Pey, insightful as usual, has looked to the future and analysed why Linden Lab’s future revenue will be based not on Second Life, but on diversification into new products.
And I think she’s hit the nail on the head – no matter whose fingers are in the way.
It seems clear that Linden Lab have decided on a policy of revenue growth by diversification, and I imagine that for them the way forward is not only narrative games, but narrative games built for mobile devices (tablets and phones) that make use of user-generated content – possibly (and primarily) mesh-created. The external creation of mesh products will allow porting into a new environment, but could be done through a marketplace rather than through inworld stores in the new application. And that user content is already being eagerly created – by Second Life creators.
Could that developing mesh content be sold in Dio?
So, for sake of argument, you could buy a house from Dutchie or Rustica to live in as your new “Dio” home as you follow your narrative but it would have to be purchased from the Marketplace. And for all Second Life denizens enjoy the luxury of shopping inworld for their new homes, as buying over the internet increasingly becomes the first choice for real world purchases, so of course it is for apps and add-ons to apps. Second Life’s re-creation of the shopping experience inworld is really rather old fashioned in that respect.
We are moving increasing to a world that breaks away from the big old desk-bound PC, the sort of power machine that is needed to run Second Life. But many of the elements that people love about Second Life – the creativity, the involvement of many different creators offering a vast range of selectable content, the ability to form yourself and – perhaps more importantly – nest within the created world … these could be strong selling points for new Linden Lab products.
And surely creators, offered the chance to get in on the ground with mesh products that they have already manufactured externally and sold in Second Life, would leap at the chance for increased revenue?
Second Life, in that scenario, continues its steady, gentle decline … but has validity for some while as a sandbox where creators can test out new products that will then be sold on the Marketplace for Dio and (perhaps) other applications.
The form Dio will take will be fascinating. To what extent will the application be game god driven, and to what extent user driven? Will it have the same pattern as Second Life (albeit with the balance slightly shifted in favour of narrative) where people can foillow narrative paths, play games – whether they be a hunt, a roleplay, a breedable game or a structured game created by a company like MadPea – and then go to a club to hang out with friends, or retire to their private homes for … ah … more private activities?
And will there still be a place for the extraordinary creativity that we see in art exhibitions like the Almost Flat Land created by Tyhrel Beck? Or in the glorious user-driven events like Relay for Life, Burn 2 and, of course, the Second Life Birthdays?