Nov 24, 2008

Second Life's Demise Forecast - Again

Three Second Life-related topics have peaked my interest in the past few day. The real life divorce of Amy Taylor and David Pollard after she found him dipping his virtual wick into another SL resident; the posting by Eric Reuters about why Reuters left Second Life (which didn't actually tell us why but merely let Eric toss out his own ideas about what Linden Lab should be doing); and how the closure of Lively heralds the ultimate demise of Second Life.

Well, welcome back the non sequitur! Google's Lively closes its portals therefore Linden Lab is next. Which logic class did folks miss? There's another argument that says Linden Lab's position is now strengthened by this, and it's based on old-fashioned supply and demand.

Imagine everyone wanted to "play" in virtual worlds. Also imagine we only had 24 hours per day to do this. If logic isn't your strong point, surely simple math is: The more worlds available, the less time you can spend in each. Ergo the fewer worlds available, the more time you can spend in each.

No-one assumes Linden Lab doesn't have problems. Software (in)stability; server issues; dissatisfied customers; bad press (what, you haven't heard - people have SEX in Second Life); and others. But take a look at the SL forums. Thousands upon thousands of posts from residents attest to the fact that even if you think it is the worst company on earth, people are ENGAGED to the point of near-fanaticism.

I appreciate I am in a minority but the actions of Linden Lab in handle their business - and the resultant revolt of Second Life residents - neither indicates a conspiracy nor a complete disregard for its customers; it simply indicates some bad management. And bad management is a feature of many businesses. What Linden Lab needs is a review of its products, policies, and procedures.

And once again, least anyone think I am a raging apologist, I am not. However, I do think that knee-jerk reactions along the lines of "LL is full of assholes," or "they don't care" distracts from any real analysis of where mistakes are made and what should be done. Furthermore, it needs to be remembered that LL is as driven by the desire for profits as any other company so painful decisions (such as the repricing of Openspaces) have to be made and implemented.

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