Monday, December 7, 2009

Who The Hell Has The Time and Desire For a Second Life?

A post today on Massively asked "Is Linden Lab wasting its time on the existing Second Life population?"  I think a better question might be, "Why doesn't Linden Lab spend more time on the existing SL population?"

I don't mean figuring out how to keep residents happy. The core SLers who spend 30, 40, 50 or more hours per week in avatar form aren't going anywhere. Their assets are all locked up within Linden Lab servers.

Digital assets are held hostage by DRM. Years of accumulated clothes, poseballs, HUDs, animations and even those beloved chickens would have to be left behind. Even the creative class has big investments in purchased assets.

Social assets are also pretty much locked up within Second Life. Although many residents extend identity through social networks and instant messaging, it just ain't the same as actually being able to spend time together in avatar form. So until there is the free transit of identity between Second Life and OpenSim grids, it will be very hard for socially active residents to leave.

Finally, OpenSim grids aren't technically competitive to Second LIfe yet. No matter how much residents bitch and moan about things, they aren't going to leave their First (Virtual) World lifestyle for an immigrant's life in an undeveloped grid.

So if current residents are going to stay put, why do I think Linden Lab should focus more on them? It's because I think the best way to figure out how to target, attract and retain new residents is to put existing residents under a microscope and figure out who they are and what makes them tick. To put it bluntly, what needs to be determined is who the hell has the time and latent desire for a Second Life.

I'll have more thoughts on this in a post later this week.


Tateru Nino said...

It would be nice to feel like the Lab understood you, wouldn't it?

Mister Crap said...

Someone once put it to me simply as "You're not going anywhere. They have you by your virtual balls."

I think he had a bag on his head. Not sure.


A. Burgess said...

I think the law of diminishing returns may be in effect--LL is only going to do just enough, and the rest of us are always going to want more. I'm with you though, focusing on improving the experience for current residents would attract more of the same, it's just at a certain point the cost per new resident goes up significantly. I think LL is probably far from the optimal level, but I'm not sure they think that, based on the behavior of the company.

Botgirl Questi said...

Tateru: Ha. Maybe they could then help me understand myself!

Crap: I think you're right about the source. Crazy wisdom.

Botgirl Questi said...

A.: Good point on the diminishing returns. I actually don't think LL needs to improve user experience for current users, just figure out who to target and draw into their addictive monopolistic web (I love to kid the Lindens.)

Prokofy said...

Your creations aren't "held hostage" because you don't *have* to create here.

Go and create on OpenSim if you fin it so horrible to have to cope with DRM, which, after all, is designed as a somewhat ineffective but realistic protection against copyright theft.

Botgirl Questi said...

Prokoy: I agree with you about having the option to move to an OpenSim, assuming one is willing to give up all of your purchase inentory.

As for DRM, it doesn't need to be eliminated to allow digital assets to be transferable between grids. It's just a technical issue that a few groups (including IBM) were working on. I don't know what the current status is on creating some sort of trusted source means of accessing your digital assets on multiple grids.

Lalo Telling said...

...the best way to figure out how to target, attract and retain new residents is to put existing residents under a microscope and figure out who they are and what makes them tick.

Exactly what I meant in my comment to the Massively post. Thank you!

On transworld inventory: I would be willing to purchase duplicates of certain items (my furry avatar/outfits, for example) if they were offered by the same creators in another VW like OpenSim, for use there -- thus avoiding DRM altogether. But, there's the Catch 22: the creators won't go if there's no market; the market won't go if there's no creators.

Sinnyo said...

Precisely right! I didn't join because I wanted a home or to explore my own personalised plot. I joined because of what other people were doing.

I left. because Linden Lab forgot all this, and through inaction or clumsy policies, I and my friends found it steadily harder to do this. So we buggered off to World of Warcraft and the realms of our imaginations instead.

Lewis E. Moten III said...

I'd like to see options to import/export my own things. A step in the rite direction would be a new tab that say "My Objects" that lists all the things in my inventory that has my UUID as the creator.

sororNishi said...

There's more than one company over the years that has found that diversifying into other markets than their core has been a waste of time, I would hope the Boys find the same true and really get to grips with theirs.

We live in hope, but, as you say, we aren't going anywhere.