Second Life-maker calls it quits on their VR follow-up
The game developer behind Second Life has abandoned its grand efforts for a virtual reality follow-up to its early 2000s hit.
SF-based Linden Lab announced today that they’ve sold off assets related to Sansar to a small, little-known company called Wookey Search Technologies, which will take over development of the title. Linden Lab will continue developing and maintaining Second Life and it sounds like some of its employees will be joining Wookey. The deal was reported by Protocol.
Second Life has remained in the limelight of popular culture, and the studio claimed to still be hauling in substantial revenues from the game in recent years. That said, the failure of Sansar is a disaster for Linden Lab, which has focused considerable resources on the effort since it first teased the platform back in 2014.
When the title was announced, VR was at the peak of its hype following Facebook’s Oculus VR acquisition. Though Sansar launched in beta with support for both VR and desktop usage, the slow adoption of VR certainly didn’t help the title’s popularity. The studio’s leadership has detailed in interviews that the majority of Sansar’s users are desktop-based.
Given the evident turmoil at the studio, Sansar’s user base will likely be relieved to hear that the studio did their best to give the title a soft landing, though it’s unclear what resources its new acquirer has access to.
Have a great Week From All of us at Zoha Islands And Fruit Islands..
A Message from our CEO: Coronavirus and Second Life Operations
Entry posted by Linden Lab ·
As concerns about the current coronavirus outbreak continue, we want to assure the community that we have taken steps to ensure that the Second Life operations stay steady while also helping our employees stay safe through this public health crisis. Our hearts and thoughts go out to those who have been affected by this unprecedented event.
Second Life will continue to be available without interruption as we get through this tough time together. Due to our previous crisis contingency planning and the flexible nature of our distributed workforce, we are not expecting any changes to response times for support inquiries and payment processing.
We know that Second Life serves a great purpose for our community as people seek ways to stay in touch with their friends and co-workers, as they grapple with new social distancing protocols, mandated remote work requirements, and other precautionary measures.
We are seeing an increase in new registrations and returning residents during this outbreak. Please be kind and welcoming to those who may just need a friendly conversation to escape from this crazy world for a moment or more. If you have a friend or colleague who is looking for a safe place to socialize online during these tough times, we encourage you to help them discover how Second Life can enable them to feel less isolated by connecting them to your favorite communities or experiences.
Like many companies across the globe, we’ve put into action new remote work policies for our employees to ensure that they can take care of themselves and their families while continuing to work from home. Prior to this incident, a large percentage of our company was already working from the “Moonlab” (that’s what we call remote employees’ locations), so we have been able to transition quickly and efficiently to a fully remote setup.
For the past 17 years, Second Life has been a special place that brings people across the world together — and we appreciate your trust and support as we get through this rough time together.
Ebbe and all the Lindens
From the Moonlab. 3.18.2020.
Pictured: Some of the many Linden Lab employees at a recent meeting in Second Life.
Zoha Islands And Fruit Islands Will run as normal at least for now. Lets work together to get through this crisis and help your neighbor when you can. Please check out your NEW VENUE Brick Shiphouse The Best OF The Best In Sl Entertainment. See you all there.
From the Staff Of Zoha Islands And Fruit Islands Stay Well And Stay Home! Lets get through this together.
We’ve been getting a lot of questions lately about how Second Life can help organizations, events, and conferences continue to safely and efficiently operate during the coronavirus outbreak.
Many individuals and organizations are being affected by this unprecedented public health crisis, and we recognize that Second Life can provide an important and valuable way for people to stay in touch with their friends and co-workers amidst new social distancing protocols, mandated remote work requirements, and other precautionary measures.
New, Deeper Discount Rate for Education & Nonprofits
One of the first things we’ve implemented to help is a reduction in pricing to a flat $99/month per region to qualified accredited nonprofit or educational institutions. Effective immediately, this limited-time price reduction is applicable to any new or added regions including renewals of existing regions. The time to take advantage of this new offer is limited, but for those education/nonprofits that qualify and take advantage of it then the newly-reduced US$99/month fee will remain in place after the offer expires as long as the organization invoicing remains current. Please contact email@example.com if you have more specific questions or would like to learn more about the discount. See our Terms & Conditions for more information.*
How Can We Help?
We’re also here to assist you if your organization is exploring options in Second Life for new remote solutions for conferences, events or classes. Our support team is standing by to answer questions about how to get quickly started with a new private or public meeting or event space in Second Life.
How Can I Get Started?
COMPANIES & EVENT ORGANIZERS
Get background information on Second Life enterprise, remote meeting and education services on our new micro-site and related FAQ.
Reach out to firstname.lastname@example.org to discuss pricing and we’ll help you walk through the process. Options range from do-it-yourself to turnkey virtual meeting space solutions.
Some organizations may want to customize how their employees interact with Second Life via a customized and branded sign-up process that brings participants directly to the virtual world meeting location upon the first login. Contact us to learn about whether this and other customized options are right for your organization.
If you are a first-timer in Second Life, you’ll want to start by creating a free Second Life account and downloading the Second Life Viewer.
You’ll have the option to select an avatar that you wish to represent your digital identity. Participants can select from a variety of identities from human to non-human and a wide range of attire.
Once you log in to Second Life, you may want to explore a bit to learn the basics of the virtual world. Check out our Support portal or our New User Tutorial videos for help. You may also want to explore a bit before attending your first virtual meeting or event. There are thousands of 3D locations in Second Life – browse the Destination Guide to get familiar with Second Life.
When you are ready to attend your company meeting or event, click on the link provided by your employer to “teleport” and virtually visit the 3D meeting location. Have a great week From the staff of Zoha Islands and Fruit Islands
We’ve gotten quite a few questions lately about how we market Second Life to potential new residents. Insight into our current and future marketing strategies is important because it provides a glimpse into our efforts to help grow the Second Life population and economy as it enters its 17th year of operations. That’s why our current Marketing team has been working hard over the past year to sharpen our growth initiatives with more efficient and targeted campaigns that reach across many paid, organic and social channels. Keep reading to learn what we’re doing now and in the near future – we’ll be discussing our plans in even more detail this Friday on the live video stream of our weekly “Lab Gab” program (found on YouTube, Facebook, Mixer and Twitter).PAID/PERFORMANCE MARKETING
On the paid/performance marketing front, we modernized our acquisition efforts last year by putting into place the use of new technologies that allow us to more precisely target new users across numerous themes, communities and genres. As part of this effort, we’ve identified a few dozen strategically-relevant, high-impact community segments and themes — all of which now have new related display, search and video ad content served against specific matched keyword inquiries and sites. Some ads are also served across social media to those with social profiles that express an interest in some or all of our targeted themes. That means that you might see new sci-fi roleplaying ads appearing on some sci-fi fan sites, social media pages, or new romance ads on long-distance relationship forums – the list goes on…
In many cases, Second Life ads are also set up as multivariate tests that help us determine which combination of images, text, and call-to-actions perform the strongest for click-through rates and retention. So, some ads may look identical except for one variation in text or imagery as we test and learn which combinations convert best. Among the themes with high traffic volume and interest among potential new residents are those that involve fashion and/or avatar customization, identity exploration, fun socialization and chat (“meet new friends,” etc.) and several specific roleplaying communities (with many campaigns going deep into specific areas such as maternity, fantasy, sci-fi and vampire themes). One consistently high-volume (but often polarizing) theme is “romance” as these ads tend to have high click-through rates that ultimately bring a large number of new people into Second Life. However, SL is so much more than a place where you might meet or hook up with a potential partner – so we aim to balance out the overall portfolio with a range of themes across the overall marketing mix. Striking the right balance with a combination of heart and science in our ad creatives is a key concern and goal.
DISPLAY AD CAMPAIGN EXAMPLES
While we have hundreds of ads in rotation at the moment, here are a few examples of some of our more recent ads that are performing particularly well for click-through and conversion rates across multiple languages:
To be clear, we don’t want to limit our messaging just to those themes that get the most clicks – that doesn’t do justice to the true creativity and diversity of the Second Life community, culture, and overall experience. That’s why our overall ad strategy includes campaigns that aim to appeal to a more diverse mix of users (even if those themes have a lower volume of potential new users). In fact, some of the most successful retention rates we see come from campaigns with smaller and niche themes.
Further, some communities tend to spend more L$ than others and/or login more often and for longer periods of time. Among the most promising new and forthcoming campaigns are those targeting themes that better explore issues of identity formation and creative freedom of expression. In particular, we are looking to expand our campaign efforts to further embrace the furry/anthro, tiny, creator and LGBTQ+ communities. If you think we’re missing the boat on any specific themes or communities and/or have a question about our segmentation content strategy, then please give us your feedback and we may address your comments in this Friday’s “Lab Gab.”
One of the newer areas of focus in our marketing is the use of paid video advertising. We’re now in the process of developing dozens of new video ads to promote Second Life across YouTube, Twitter, Facebook and other outlets that support video advertising.
You may have already noticed our recent “Second Life Destinations”video series, produced in partnership with Draxtor Despres. This web series, which is distributed across our social media channels, explores a different community or theme each week. While these longer fly-through videos are not intended to be ads, we do simultaneously create shorter ad edits from each episode. That means that each episode is accompanied by shorter fifteen- and thirty-second formats that are used for targeted paid advertisements to non-residents. Here’s a side-by-side comparison of how a longer video about surfing destinations was truncated into a fifteen-second ad edit:
Original Social Video – “Second Life Destinations – Surfing Hot Spots”
While there’s still much anger among the Second Life community about the end of Sansar as a Linden Lab-sponsored project, some readers also make a more positive point: Since Second Life is still based on an ancient graphics engine and server architecture from nearly two decades (!) ago, the company really did (and does) need to invest in developing new platforms while keeping the original one operational. As “Pulsar” puts it:
Linden Lab dumped no working product (Second Life). What’s to be “dumped” here — actually being sold — is the branch that gave no fruits… Earlier you realize it, the better. Selling it is the right thing to do, in order to not lose further money and getting something back. It’s even possible (but I won’t bet it) that Sansar, under a different company with a clear plan and finally reworked, other than rebranded, could find a niche.
I actually wouldn’t be at all surprised if Sansar does find a suitor — for instance, a Chinese company that wants a VR-optimized virtual world to deploy behind the Great Firewall. In any case, as Pulsar goes on, Linden Lab was never trying to “abandon” the Second Life customer base, but attempting to grow a new, somewhat overlapping audience with a new product:
#1. Even when your business has to deal with product obsolescence, and you need to offer a new version of your software or a brand new car, you look for costumer loyalty, not to dump them. Sure, you can’t convince everyone and some will stick to the old stuff — either from too much attachment, fear of the change or… it’s your new product that’s really unappealing, until the old one becomes unsustainable for you to maintain and support it. However it isn’t that you say “ok, now we are releasing version 2, let’s dump our costumers!” (not even Ebbe did that). Also that’s not this case. Maybe LL has failed at communicating as well as they could, but [Sansar] isn’t Second Life 2 to replace Second Life 1. Sansar wasn’t marketed as SL2 (you can argue that someone at Linden Lab, deep down, hoped for that, but another story).
#2. The current case. When a company shifts focus like this, there is a new target user in mind. You aren’t just moving from v1.0 to v2.0, you are now offering the product A and the product B. The purposes are, for example:
A) To differentiate, so you don’t have all your eggs in one basket, if a business collapses;
B) To expand your business;
C) To adapt to the new market trends, so you won’t end up like a dinosaur.
In the past, I’ve argued that Linden Lab should completely rebuild and relaunch Second Life for the modern age, making it mobile-friendly and appealing to a generation that grew up on Minecraft and Fortnite. But that strategy is at least as equally risky — and could easily cost more than the $50-60 million Linden Lab likely spent on Sansar.
Linden Lab CEO Announces Sansar Now Up For Sale; Company to Instead Focus “Entirely on Second Life and Tilia”; Philip Rosedale Not Among Returning “Heavy Hitters”
Linden Lab CEO Ebbe Altberg on today’s episode of Lab Gab, its company-to-community news program on YouTube, discussing Sansar:
“Sadly we have decided we as Linden Lab couldn’t continue to sponsor the project financially so we’re looking for a plan B for Sansar to continue.
“I can’t say much but we’re having interesting conversations with several parties to help that project move forward… but no deal is done yet, so people will have to be patient to see what happens with it.
“But yes it’s true that Linden Lab going forward will focus entirely on Second Life and Tilia. But I’m still busy making sure Sansar finds a great home.”
Philip is not coming back to Linden Lab, Ebbe Altberg said, but that three heavy hitters with deep Second Life experience have indeed returned. Added Ebbe: “We’ll let them introduce themselves if they want to.” However, noted Lab Gab’s co-host, some users have already noticed long-defunct Lindens recently appearing on the grid.
Open through late March, this interactive educational experience invites attendees to explore the timeline of African-American history from the heartaches to the victories in a park-like and welcoming environment.
At the heart of the museum is a new exhibit that spotlights the amazing women that helped shape African-American history in the US.
“There’s a focus on women in Black history and telling some of the stories of people that don’t really make it into the history books,” says curator Abrianna Oceanside.”We talk about Harriet Tubman and Rosa Parks, but we don’t really talk about some of the [other] names that we don’t even recognize.”
“To be able to walk through, observe and just be able to have a more immersed experience is more effective than just going to a website and reading the information,” says Oceanside. “I’m hoping to foster a place where there can be a dialogue.”
While some of the subject matter in the museum can be unsettling, Oceanside says that she hopes the experience will help enlighten and educate attendees.
“There are a lot of difficult discussions and I’m OK with uncomfortable because I believe that is a big part of what helps us grow as people,” she says. “I’ve had some really interesting discussions with people whose perspectives shifted a little bit…and sometimes that little shift makes a big difference in the world.”