Saturday, June 14, 2014

What’s Going on in Second Life?

Study the past if you would define the future.


          I thought my opening question would get your attention.  (You’re here aren’t you?)
          No, this isn’t a bait ‘n switch ploy. 
          It’s just that after what seemed like some hopeful new beginnings for Second Life (SL) earlier this year, nothing seems to have happened!        
          First, we lost Rod Humble only to have replaced by Ebbe Altberg. 
          Then the highly touted and overrated SL Go appeared.  (Which I still won’t use by the way because of its ridiculously short trial period.)

            (N.B. After this blog was first posted, a reader brought to my attention that SL Go now had a one week free trial in response to user demand.  I checked this on their website and this is now the case.  When I'd rechecked my facts for this story earlier the change hadn't been made yet.  One week is a fair period for a trial and I'll write a review of SL Go as soon as my blogging schedule permits.  My thanks to the reader for pointing this out and sorry for the confusion!)
          New starter avatars were to be available and have appeared.  Rumors of the return of Lindens inworld were about. 
          A new Golden Age was to be upon the loyal fans who had stayed the course and hung on to being residents of SL even as Real Life (RL) friends went from making snide comments about our participation inworld to asking what it was.  (I don’t know about the rest of you but the latter really annoys me.)
          Now, mid-year, where are we?  Are we any better off?
          At the risk of being accused of nay-saying and alarmism, I really don’t think we’re any better off than we were six months ago. 
          Ebbe started strong, met with many, was engaged, but I haven’t heard a lot lately.  Haven’t heard of any new investments.  He recognized the IP issue with terms and conditions brouhaha but hid behind that old saw of business leaders and politicians everywhere, “The lawyers are working on it.”  Someone should point out to him that the lawyers work for him.
          (If I’m wrong and great strides have been made and I missed the memo – I won’t go into how nobody talks to me anyway – then I’ll happily apologize once the evidence is produced.)
          Then there was SL Go which was going to permit to all be mobile while we were inworld.  I was not a fan of the original pricing model or the twenty minute free trial but the company has addressed these issues.  Folks still find it pricey and compare it to less expensive alternatives.  This may be a case of too little too late. 
          Let’s talk about those new avatars.  Seems they have become something of a nightmare to support with the new mesh technology.  A SL friend who volunteers at a newbie support center inworld speaks of the frustration of new members who are trying to change their appearance and can’t do it readily.  Oh, and BTW, seems that the new avatars don’t work too well with SL Go.  (I’m sure a twenty minute trial really goes over well here.)  
          Then there were the rumors of the return of the Lindens inworld to lead us all to Nirvana.  (I once thought this was a wonderful idea until I realized that all the experienced ones had either been let go or left for greener pastures.  Linden Lab (LL) will be hard put to place experienced Lindens inworld who can hold their own with many residents.)  There have been a couple of sightings.  Although, from the descriptions that I read, they sounded more like they were lost and didn’t respect any of the local sims’ guidelines for dress and behavior. But, when you’re a god…
          Speaking of gods…
          Anyone remember Philip Rosedale?  You know the guy who got the ball rolling way back when SL was just a silly video arcade game for the shopping malls.  Seems he’s made the big time – again.
          Seems he was recently on CNBC talking about his latest foray into virtual worlds with his new company High Fidelity.  (I’d have included a link here but my anti-virus software didn’t like its security certificate, hmm.)  Oculus Rift is part of his strategy.  If he succeeds, and note I said “if”, then what happens to SL?  Enough said.
          OK, got the picture?
          Lots of things happening in SL but they don’t appear to be coordinated very well.
          Lack of involvement with the customer base by LL who appear to be taken for granted.
          New threat on the horizon and a lack of vision and capital to deal with it.
          Have I missed anything?
          Normally, I try to be positive and upbeat.  I can ignore dumb things inworld and focus on the positive.  But, what I’ve blogged about here affects all of us and the future of SL.
          LL has to focus on these issues and do something about them.  More to the point, they should be communicating more directly with more if not all of us.  I know Ebbe meets with some prominent residents from time to time and I applaud him for that.  It’s just not enough. 
          I’ll wrap it up and get off my soapbox with one last question to LL:
          “What’s the plan?”
          And, don’t worry. I’m still going back inworld and will keep blogging for as long as SL and I are both still around!   I believe in SL.  I just wish it did more to justify this belief.
          Finally, if I’m missing something then I’ll be the first to admit I’m wrong.  (Significant Other sees to that.)  Just drop me a line with what I’ve missed and I’ll be happy to apologize! 
As always, I’m grateful to all inworld for their kindness and time in stopping to talk with a stranger who was passing through their lives.   
My Twitter handle is @webspelunker.  Please feel free to follow me and I’d be happy to follow you.
I welcome feedback from readers, please either comment on my blog or e-mail me at . 

          If you would like to read about my other adventures in Second Life
please click here.


Deirdre Graves said...

The SL Go Trial is now a week. I haven't tried it myself, but I was glad to hear they increased the length of the trial. They also changed the payment scheme significantly in response to feedback, I believe.

webspelunker said...


Many thanks for pointing that out!

I've amended my post accordingly.

Thanks for reading!



Marx Dudek said...

Looks like $9.95 per month unlimited or $1 per hour now. That's much better.

webspelunker said...


Yes and with the longer trial, SL Go is now with looking at.

When I get some time, I'll check it out.

Thanks for reading and commenting!



Terag Ershtan said...

Picking up on your comments about “Lack of involvement with the customer base by LL ...” I’ve got to admit to being fairly disenfranchised by Linden Lab’s lack of interest in giving PR to their own product. A number of people – you and me included – have recommended to Linden Lab (i.e. via Twitter to @secondlife and @lindenlab) that it would be a great idea for them to be much more proactive in supporting other parts of the Second Life community, Machinima makers, Second Life events and activities et al. While certain communities in Second Life get a bit of support (i.e. these days the Education and Art communities – and I love that this occurs), there are significant aspects that rarely get a look in (i.e. the vehicle communities as discussed in James Wagner’s post: “Where's the Coverage of Second Life Vehicle Communities? (Comment of the Week)” here:

@secondlife on Twitter has 39,600 followers (current at 5 Aug 14) yet it is rare to see them post much more than the Second Life Pic of the Day, the occasional promotion of an event, maybe a picture or a video and a couple of replies to tweets from other Twitter accounts. Hey, they even failed to promote their own SL 11th Birthday “Celebrate Your Second Life" Picture Competition mentioning it only once on Twitter and I’m not sure they even posted the winner! I sometimes wonder if the person or people behind @secondlife actually understands marketing/communications – or even has an indepth appreciation of Second Life itself.

When @secondlife does tweet something it typically gets shared more than most things tweeted by other Twitter account holders. This is great and it achieves the outcome that social media is ultimately about: creating a buzz, sharing, conversations, keeping something front of mind. There are lots of other people like Draxtor, Inara Pey, Indigo Mertel, Elisa Butler, Honour McMillan, James Wagner – to name just a few – who make up for @secondlife and @lindenlab’s inadequate engagement by blogging and using social media regularly but I would be surprised if their combined audience on social media came to more than 5,000 followers. That’s not their fault, it is hard to get a huge following on social media without having a significant ‘brand’. So why, with so many followers on social media would @secondlife and @lindenlab rely so heavily on advocates to do all the leg work in promoting Second Life when their own reach is MUCH larger. On Twitter alone, @secondlife has more than SEVEN times the number of unique followers than you, me and all of the people I mentioned above.

I note that High Fidelity are hiring a Marketing Communications Manager – see Linden Lab better watch out. If the person who fills that role is any good, High Fidelity will run rings around Linden Lab on social media and in other communication forums.