Diluting the morass – why the Facebook crowd will be good for SL

Second Life has around 750,000 hard-core users with around 500,000 who come in at least once every couple of months.  It’s around 7% of the total number of registered accounts. These numbers have been pretty constant now for the last 12 months. Kudos to Linden Research for managing to stem the decline.

The current LL business plan is to move to a 2D web-based social networking front end and it’s not a bad idea.  SL is not suitable for anyone but the hardcore or the desperate.  The system requirements to run it are beyond what most average users have and the learning curve for the user interface is off-putting to say the least.  Add the poor quality platform and the amount of time it takes to do anything and the chances of improving the retention rate is not good.

LL do claim they have a new viewer in the pipeline. Apparently it’s completely different to the current viewer.  Whether that is good or bad is yet to be determined but early reports indicate that those who are already familiar with the current viewer will struggle to quickly adapt to the new release. 

But then it’s not aimed at improving the lives of people using SL at the moment.  This is about making life easier for the missing millions of people who signed up and never came back because their initial experiences were so off-putting.  Pity this is 3 years too late.

Second Life is in decline.  A lot of long-term customers are seriously considering leaving and a large proportion of them have begun the downsizing in preparation.  Declining incomes, lack of LL committment to fixing the defects in the product, content theft, capricious application of hastily thought out policies and a myriad of other reasons has created serious dissatisfaction with the product.

A large proportion of those long-term customers are content creators.  As they leave they remove their goods from sale and whilst there are always those who want to take their place, the quality isn’t there.  Bit by bit SL is moving from a platform where businesses can behave as a business, to an evironment where everyone is a hobbyist playing shopkeeper while creating on the whole lower quality items to be sold cheaply to people who don’t know any better.  

Perhaps that’s no bad thing.  LL has no intention of improving the underlying platform and at 7 years old it’s moved into legacy system status now.  The structural issues facing the technology probably mean that it might support anything up to a 50% increase in users but it will never be able to service the numbers that facebook, myspace, youtube et al manage.

So moving into 2D as the primary entertainment provider is probably a good end strategy.  I have no idea what the projections of people moving from the 2D to inworld would be but I suggest that it will be a fraction and those who do won’t stay long.  The makeup of those using the social networking sites is different to SL users.  They want quick communication whereas sl is cumbersome.  

A percentage of those who do come in will stay.  So the initial benefits of an increased userbase will be felt in the avatar augmentation sector – skins, hair, clothes, shoes etc.  Cheap and disposable will become the keywords, they’ll want to look good but won’t be staying around.

For those who do stay and establish a presence here they will be looking for better quality and will be searching for other content; land, housing, furniture etc.  Yet despite the claims of the NYT that people can live the lifestyles of the rich and famous they’re not going to spend anything more than they have to. Certainly the current perspective of younger online users is that they shouldn’t have to pay for content.  The concept of financially rewarding creators is being diminished

Ultimately though I’m looking forward to a more socially adept group of people coming inworld but from a content perspective perhaps the future really is amateur hour.  

We should know in around 6 months at a guess.  That’s if we can hold on inworld that long.

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One Response to Diluting the morass – why the Facebook crowd will be good for SL

  1. Pingback: Diluting the morass – why the Facebook crowd will be good for SL … | Portal site of Second Life and metaverse"MetaLog-meta log"

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