I made a fairly radical recommendation last January to remedy the stagnant growth of Second Life:
The growth of the Second Life active user base has been stagnant for the last couple of years. When contrasted with CityVille's recent jump towards 50 million users in less than a month and IMVU's 600% annual growth rate, it's clear that Linden Lab is missing out on a huge potential market. The trick is to figure out how to break into the rapidly growing mainstream without jeopardizing the current user base and existing $75 million annual revenue stream.
I've been flirting for a while with an idea that I think can meet those aims by extending the foundational vision of Second Life as a user-created world. Here's the basic vision: Second Life developers and entrepreneurs are given tools and support to create and market stand-alone applications using the Second Life platform.A year later, Linden Realms has launched along with planned tools for residents to create even richer original experiences in Second Life.
I have no idea if someone at Linden Lab was influenced by my post or whether it was just an idea whose time had come. In any case, I wanted to revisit and update some of the other recommendations I made at the time. I think they're still valid and would support the new direction they now seem to be heading.
- Release a stable and truly user-friendly web-client and mobile solution. Removing the barrier of a big download and installation would open the door to the millions of casual users who now play Facebook and mobile games.
- Enter into agreements with Facebook and Apple to integrate authentication and payment. Although tier will continue to be the primary revenue source for the foreseeable future, game-centric fees and micro-payments would tap into the huge proven markets of casual and mobile gaming.
- Provide enhanced tools that allow developers to provide a custom selection of initial avatar choices and pre-populate inventories of new users with the required items. Linden Lab has announced development tools to create "rich user experiences". Hopefully, this will include the option to extend default avatar choices and initial inventory that would be appropriate to the game or other application.
It will be interesting to see how Linden Lab's new initiatives play out in 2012, including what their CEO described as "some completely different products next year not related to Second Life."