Contemplating Second Life’s Demise

March 20, 2007


This just has to be said.

The Herald recently featured an announcement about the YearlyKos Convention using 8 sims with 4 more set aside as backups. Many of us read that and thought: “Oh, ok, I might actually be able to go to this event without the sim crashing.”

We probably said it without any bitterness because we’ve become used to the limitations of SL. Most of us have abandoned other virtual worlds in favor of this grand experiment in self-expression, and we’ve forgotten that most MMOs don’t lock up just because there are ten avatars within a thousand meters of each other.

This is why I love when publications like Kotaku comment on Second Life. While the details aren’t any more in-depth, they say things that we don’t think to, like:

“What I don’t get is why organizations waste their time. I mean most sims have a pretty tiny cap. For instance, the turn out at last week’s book reading by Dean Koontz was expected to be about 30 people. Why in the hell would he waste his time?”

They have a point. This is ridiculous.

There is no truly viable alternative to SL yet so we put up with the limitations. Nowhere else offers people the opportunities for self-expression that we have here, and when you add to that the free market economic system, Linden Lab pretty much owns our asses.


We’ll all at least check out any system that allows for the independent creation of scriptable objects and a free market system. Just look at Kaneva – it’s clearly less than SL, but the latent desperation for something better has driven many to put up with it long enough to take a really good look.

When the new thing comes, be it Areae or Outback Online or HiPiHi, the number of people who can sit in a room together will make all the difference. Imagine the Koontz event in front of 100 or 1000 people. SL’s hype machine will pale in comparison to what would be created by an event like that. No matter what Linden Lab came up with, be it voice capabilities or other marvelous toys, “U2 Plays Virtual Concert For Hundreds” would bury them.

Hype aside, I’m curious about how ready to jump ship SL residents really are. If something better came along, would you leave? Many would be abandonning a legacy of work, but if it meant that our new creations would have a better home it might be worth it. Some may harbor a sense of loyalty to Linden Lab, and there are a lot of “what ifs” here, so I’ve chosen to phrase my question thusly:

If Linden Lab created a separate, completely rebuilt-from-the-ground grid and client (Second Life v2) that was essentially the same but could handle much higher loads, would you cash out, leave the old grid behind and switch?

… and a follow-up question that should be of particular interest to LL …

Do you think the corporations will?

(Sidenote: this came dangerously close to explaining Onder’s Big Three. They’re listed towards the bottom of the “BoingBoing BOOM” post if you’re curious. I’m still trying to avoid that argument… )



  1. […] Update: Onder just told me in the comment section that he simultaneously posted about, quote: “The demise of Second Life”. Thanks for the hint, Onder! […]

  2. I think there’s a lame myopia about numbers games alone. Some big-name authors like to do intimate book readings at small venues. Same goes with some famous bands who desire to “return to their roots” and do surprise gigs on clubs where they wouldn’t be noticed much otherwise. But the best is to have both — art holds both the individual and the vox massi close to its bosom.

    To paraphrase someone, it’s frustrating wanting to paint on an epic canvas with a white-out brush. And region crossings suck, we know this like water is wet.

    I actually have a thirst (after not seeing 300, but hearing of it…) for seeing 100s, if not 1000s of avatars all storm down a hill clad in armor.

    Remember Jade Lily’s “Camport” idea referencing several others’ desires for more regions in one sim?

    And to answer the question, I would hope that there’d be some transportation between grids, e.g., the old one would be(come) like a burnt-out Earth from some sci-fi series (I’m thinking Firefly), meaning you could go back and forth, but certain exclusive capabilities would only be available in the new one.

  3. I meant “more Residents in one region”, not “more regions in one sim” — altho the latter makes a quirky nod to nomenclature. 😉

  4. That typo IS fascinating though, isn’t it? Would it be possible to get more than one server handling the load within a sim?

    Ok, but that geekout moment aside: SL survives by the need for the intimate locale. If that need didn’t exist SL would be vacant. That need does not, however, mean that the need for large numbers is irrelevant. Neither does it mean that small venues wouldn’t be possible if SL was scaled up!

    Here’s what I think I was really trying to get at with this: going somewhere and talking to people is the ultimate killer social app.

    That’s why crowded bars stay crowded and half-filled bars soon empty. We like to stand in a large group, wander around in it, make noise, make a mess, bump into each other, and happen upon each other.

    So seriously, save the fancy Web 2.0 apps, elaborate profiles and data aggregators. Just give us all a place to hang out together!

  5. SL, Sim City, Barbies and her House is just games hinting at us that we are in a game.

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