Isn’t the new theme for I Rez looking great? It’s cleaner, feels more up to date, and more representative of what we’re doing here and where we’re going. Speaking of website redesigns, I’m sure that if you’re a Second Life user, by now you’ve had a wander over to the new Linden Labs website? They’ve had a makeover too.
A few bloggers have chucked in their two cents on Linden Labs’ two new product launches. They’ve called them derivative of other products out there and not having much in common with the Second Life that many of us know and love. Others have pointed out that the company has decided to rebrand itself as a “maker of creative spaces”, which is telling in itself.
A friend of mine pointed out to me that the Second Life page on the Linden Labs website displays the headline “The pioneering virtual world that millions of people around the world have enjoyed.” This headline contrasts significantly with the more future-oriented Patterns page, that has the headline: “Imagine a 3D universe of creativity…”. It is also very different from the Creatorverse page that features the headline “Set your creations in motion.”
While it’s undeniable that Second Life has existed for 9 years and is no longer new, the headline Linden Labs chose to spark a new user’s interest in Second Life sounds a bit like an old grey-bearded man describing a theme park well past its prime. It seems that Linden Labs are more excited about their two new products, which are all about building and gaming. It’s only natural that the shiny new toys that get all the attention on Christmas morning.
I’ve read several posts, and comments to the above posts, that view the introduction of these products as a positive step towards diversification which may lead to a stronger Linden Labs, not mainly reliant on 500 land barons to keep it afloat. From my very limited perspective, I tend to agree that diversification is a reasonably good business move for Linden Labs. But will it be a good move for current Second Life users?
So what might the second life of Linden Labs be like?
Do you imagine a new Linden Lab focused on fixing, developing and maintaining the Second Life most of us have come to love – a place to re-identify, to explore, to meet and socialise with heaps of really diverse people, and to have fun with each other as we live out our Second Lives?
Or, will new Linden Labs mainly work in favour of tailoring their product to the more lucrative gamer or content creator, effectively abandoning Second Life as a cash cow that perennially provides positive cash flows, which is allocated to other divisions within Linden Labs, like the ones they are now launching?
Time will tell if they do one or the other, or impossibly, both.
As a postscript, my recent visit to the Linden Lab website was not without its fair dose of irony, when I noticed that they were using a well-known piece of user-generated content for one of their image sliders (see above). Yes, that’s Hosoi Ichiba’s Japan Kanto Sim, that visitors to this blog will no doubt recognise as the poster sim that not only represents one of the best places to visit in Second Life, but was also the subject of a few posts about it being at risk as a result of their inability to pay tier. As a result of restructuring, that particular piece of user-generated content pictured above no longer exists by the way, and now serves as an example of the decay we’ve seen in Second Life as more and more sims are lost.
Is it just a little bit lazy that Linden Labs has chosen to feature a sim that no longer exists in Second Life as an example of their greatest achievement? It all just seems a tad out of touch, doesn’t it? As a private company that needn’t listen or answer to any of us users (except perhaps the 1% that own 75% of the current land base), what Linden Labs decide to do with Second Life is up to no one else but Linden Labs. After all, it’s their world, their imagination…