I don’t want to dis Second Life too much. You gotta give it up to the Linden Labs folks for taking on a business that has an absolutely horrific track record with a string of failures. That said, I’m getting a bit tired of the hype. So when Mitch Wagner posted his article, I took a look at it. He talks about all the fun things to do in SL, most of which don’t sound new or even very exciting, but whatever. Then he decided to post his in-game pictures, and for me, the wheels fell off the wagon.
of this photo he says ” Times Square. Notice the steam rising from the sidewalk vent on the left.” What I notice is that no one is there. It’s empty. Doesn’t sound much like Times Square to me.
Again, where are the people? I see 5 there including the author. How social is that?
I’ve got two problems with SL, both business related. Most of the company that the money has earned have been from virtual real estate sales. There are some real market dynamics problems here. Since this is virtual real estate, this can be a continuing source of revenue for the company since it can create more on demand. The problem is that the more real estate that the company produces, the less any existing real estate is worth. Since there is an active market in re-selling real estate in SL, this makes it harder to put any real price on any of the fictional land. Secondly, the more land that the company makes available the worse that the density of users to land is. This makes it harder for users to encounter each other and can make SL a very lonely place, which isn’t a very good experience.
The other main issue that I have is with the Linden Dollars model. This is also another source of revenue since there is a real exchange that the company brokers between Linden Dollars and real dollars. At this point, however, things get sketchy since it is in Linden’s best interest to continue to create as many Linden dollars as they can since they make a profit on each transaction. You then get into the real-world economic issues of inflation. The more popular that SL gets, the more real that this problem becomes.
I have seen some comments from Linden about this, and I don’t think that they are stupid. I know they have probably considered these issues. However, since their continued success relies on an ever larger revenue source, they will have a serious problem reconciling doing the right thing and doing what they need to do in order to keep the world going.