Hackers are stealing Second Life’s player-made lootboxes and selling them for profit

Second Life is a virtual world stereotypically thought to be steeped in cyber sex, but beyond that thin layer of prurience is a thriving community of artists creating everything from lavish Beverly Hills-style mansions to the eyeliner your avatar wears. Its economy is a staggering $500 million USD machine of virtual ecommerce, with many players making a real-world living by creating, marketing, and selling digital products. But those same creators are locked in a long battle against groups of cheaters who, using a series of exploits, are stealing their products and selling them for profit on Second Life’s official Marketplace. It’s potentially costing Second Life’s virtual artists tens of thousands of real dollars and highlights the nightmare of defending your intellectual property on the internet.

Second Life is unique in the MMO genre for many reasons. It’s not so much a game as it is a social space that players can customize however they like. Called ‘sims,’ these sandboxes are spaces that players fill with all manner of player-designed objects. Unlike other MMOs, however, these objects aren’t created using some in-game crafting system, but built with software like 3D Studio Max, Photoshop, and a lot more. Some players build mansions and throw elegant parties while others own retail stores that sell their hand-crafted apparel. And, yes, some just want to have cybersex.

Second Life’s creators were on track to take home $60 million USD collectively in 2017.

But it’s also unique in that, unlike most MMOs, players can exchange Second Life’s ingame currency (called Lindens) for US dollars. Peter Gray, who was Linden Lab’s senior director of global communication before leaving early this year, told me via email that Second Life’s creators were on track to take home $60 million USD collectively in 2017. It’s what’s led many players to turn Second Life into a full-time job. But for two years now, those same creators have also had to deal with the frustrating rise of ‘dupers’ or ‘copybotters’—players who illegally duplicate their items for profit using exploits.

Theft of a salesman

“It’s very much a big deal,” Oobleck Allagash tells me. He’s the owner of PocketGacha, an innovative HUD-based storefront that works with several designer brands in Second Life to sell their products. Since launching in August, PocketGacha has made “more than tens of millions of Linden” in sales from “tens of thousands” of customers. While many creators in Second Life were vaguely aware that duping was an issue, Allagash became a unifying voice in the community because PocketGacha’s backend system allowed him to track sold inventory across multiple brands and see how widespread the issue was becoming. It’s how he became aware that the Marketplace was frequently featuring items for sale at seemingly infinite quantities and exorbitantly low prices—both telltale signs that they had been duplicated.

A lot of artistry goes into Second Life’s virtual products.

Allagash tells me that, in Second Life, one of the most popular ways to shop is through games of ‘gacha’ or, as its traditionally known in Japan, ‘gashapon.‘ “It’s a game where you have a machine that you play, paying typically about 50 Linden [$0.25 USD] for each go, and you are given either a common item or, if you’re lucky, you’ll eventually get a rare item which is typically more robust in its design,” Allagash explains. “It can be a vehicle or a house, for example.” Some gachas might award makeup or articles of clothing in a complete outfit, while others, like the popular Kunst brand, offer meticulously crafted themed decor.

On the surface there’s little difference between gachas and the controversial loot boxes that are appearing in many games like Star Wars Battlefront 2, but there’s several key distinctions. For one, these items have tangible value. Each play is always rewarded with an item, and any you win can be resold on Second Life’s Marketplace for Lindens and then converted into US dollars. Secondly, the proceeds of these items goes to their respective creators, not Linden Lab (though it does collect a small transaction fee for items sold on the Marketplace). And for those who hate the gambling aspect of gacha games and loot boxes, many creators also offer a buyout price to purchase the set in full.

“It develops sort of a trading atmosphere where people will trade for commons and rares,” Allagash explains. “There’s a whole cottage industry that has developed in Second Life of people reselling a lot of these items that they get.”

In Second Life, some items are ‘copy’ items, which can be copied and pasted multiple times inside of a sim. Most gacha items are different. Called ‘transfers,’ they can only be placed in a simulation once, and if you sell it, it’s gone from you inventory. Like Magic: The Gathering, it’s a market valued by the scarcity of sought-after rare products, and Second Life’s dupers are undermining the whole thing.

“Some bad guys have figured out how to duplicate as many of these transfer items as they want,” Allagash says. “You can duplicate thousands of them, and they have real value on the reseller market.” While the exact exploit is a closely guarded secret, the general idea is that these dupers strategically “crash” a sim, which somehow allows them to create infinite duplicates of an item. Dupers can even duplicate in-game gift cards for various player-owned stores, letting them buy anything for free.

Buyer beware

According to several players I spoke with, it’s been a problem for years that Linden Lab only acknowledged in November after mounting pressure from the creator community. “Recently, we closed an exploit that fraudulent gacha re-sellers had used,” the company said in an update posted on November 2. “Our governance team can now catch them when they attempt the cheating method that we have already fixed.”

Second Life’s creators hoped it would be an end to duping. Inevitably, it wasn’t. I spoke with one creator who requested to remain anonymous. Their brand is one of the more popular in Second Life and it’s become a full-time job that earns them a healthy income. Days after launching a new product line after Linden Lab allegedly shut the exploit down, they found a suspicious listing on the Marketplace offering the entire product line in one bulk package for almost 1300 Lindens less than the competition.

I don’t even like to imagine [the damage to my business] most of the time.


Second Life’s Marketplace doesn’t let customers see metrics like units sold, so this creator and Allagash had to get creative. The maximum amount of quantity that can be purchased at one time is ten, so they began buying up stock to see how much this alleged duper had. It was an impossible amount. During my interview with Allagash, he demonstrated this by sharing his screen with me via Skype. I watched as he purchased almost 40 full sets of this creator’s product line from the alleged duper. He then showed me PocketGacha’s backend tracking system, which operates similarly to any retail store, to show how unlikely it was that one person could have potentially over a hundred copies of this particular item when only several hundred had been given away through the gacha game.

Making matters worse, this alleged duper was the most popular listing for these particular items on the Marketplace, effectively tanking their value. “The damage is huge,” the anonymous creator tells me. “I’m the one paying for the subscriptions for the programs to create my products, I’m paying for marketing, I’m paying for the cost of running the sims—everything to keep my business going. Then there’s the emotional and time investment into the work. The amount of time it takes to make a gacha release, for example, can lead to 16-hour days. I don’t even like to imagine [the damage to my business] most of the time. Over a day or two it might just be a hundred dollars maybe, but over years…”

A screen capture of one alleged duper selling items for well below their going rate.

One thing that isn’t clear is what these dupers hope to gain, but Allagash and the creator I spoke to both insist it has to be real-world money. “They’re clearly not just doing this to be able to have fun in Second Life. They’re making significant money,” Allagash tells me. Because Second Life’s virtual economy is susceptible to money laundering, Linden Lab has a strict process for withdrawing US dollars. Allagash says that if it’s possible these dupers have found ways to undermine the game, it’s plausible they might have found loopholes in withdrawing their money too.

Creators aren’t the only ones finding it hard to compete with dupers, either. As Allagash tells me, Second Life has a massive economy of professional resellers. These players gamble on gachas and then sell the items they receive to ultimately turn a profit themselves. It can be a very lucrative business, according to one reseller—until dupers get involved, that is. “When [dupers] steal designs to sell I no longer invest in a set, depriving the creator of money,” Sushnik Samas, a reseller, tells me. “The expected return on a copied set plummets. Others may not be quite as scientific as I am, but surely realize they are bleeding money and also stop playing a set giving the thief free reign on the copied virtual goods.”

A history of being duped

Wanting the perspective of someone whose livelihood wasn’t impacted by this, I reached out to Wagner James Au, a tech consultant and owner of the prominent Second Life and virtual reality blog, New World Notes. He tells me that, despite the outrage, the problem of duping is largely contained within the niche of gacha sellers. “For one thing, only a fraction of the total [Second Life] economy is based around the web-based Marketplace—most active SLers prefer to conduct many or most transactions in-world, since it’s a more seamless, immersive experience.”

This is just one more chapter in Second Life’s long history of intellectual copyright theft.

Au goes on to explain that this is just one more chapter in Second Life’s long history of intellectual copyright theft. Since 2006, players have frequently found their virtual products stolen and duplicated in a number of ways, which “inevitably (and usually belatedly), Linden Lab tamps down with some increased whack-a-mole against infringers, and the outrage is shunted elsewhere.”

But even Au agrees that while duping might not be killing Second Life, it’s still an issue. “Linden Lab has not been transparent or sufficiently responsive to duping issues like this, especially when many people’s literal livelihood depends on their responsiveness. The fact that the [Second Life] virtual economy as a whole is more or less doing well doesn’t change that.”

Speaking with Allagash and the others affected by this, Au’s statement echoes their frustrations: Dupers are to be expected, but Linden Lab needs to improve. The company employs measures to protect its creators’ rights chiefly through a DMCA filing process and an internal abuse reporting system. The problem, as Allagash tells me, is that neither of these systems is very efficient.

“The DMCA report is managed by an outside company will take this particular thing down faster than an abuse report,” Allagash tells me. “So what happens in this sort of spider web is that the DMCA report will take [the Marketplace listing] first, which is immediately helpful for that creator. But after the DMCA report takes it down, there’s no [evidence for the abuse report] and so Linden Labs does nothing. The person isn’t banned, there’s no punishment. They come right back and do it again.”

For the creators who are, in many ways, the lifeblood of Second Life, it’s immensely frustrating since both systems can take days or weeks to produce results. “I feel like they see the DMCA as the end-all to the problem,” the anonymous creator told me. “And in some sense, it is—the item is removed from sale. But the problem is that someone can just make a new account and upload the item again. It’s [Linden Lab’s] follow through with repeat offenders that is lacking, and it’s their unwillingness to comment or work with us on it that makes me feel not valued as a creator.”

Linden Lab, however, feels differently. “We take the protection of SL content creators and our community very seriously,” Peter Gray, who was Linden Lab’s senior director of global communications until departing the company during the writing of this story, told me via email. “We do not share metrics on account bans, but can confirm that we have permanently closed a number of accounts for this activity and are committed to vigorously pursuing any violation of our Terms of Service and Community Standards.”

“Unfortunately, it’s not uncommon for bad actors to move onto new methods. We are engaged in an ongoing pursuit of cheaters and continuously closing loopholes and working to protect our creator community,” Gray added.

When asked about the specific actions creators could take to protect their intellectual copyright, Gray said, “We follow the DMCA take down process as prescribed by the law. Abuse reports submitted by users are normally reviewed within 72 hours, although the process may take longer in some cases, depending on the type of report and information provided. We cannot comment on specific accounts, and therefore users who submit abuse reports are not notified about actions taken as a result of their reports. Unfortunately, that may lead some users to feel as if their reports may be ineffective, even when they actually result in account bans and other enforcement actions.”

But that’s not good enough for many of Second Life’s creators. While the MMO is often passed off as an aging game with a limited playerbase, CEO Ebbe Altberg told Motherboard in an interview in 2016 that 900,000 players still log in monthly. And for those who have turned their passion for it into a full-time job as a virtual designer, it’s easy to see how the continuing theft of their hard work is so damaging. “We just want our work to be protected,” the creator tells me. “In the age that we live in, it’s a basic right on the internet—I would hope.”

Linden Lab Plans SL Improvements

In a recent article in the Second Life blog, Linden Labs announces upcoming planned improvements to the Second Life platform. As promised in a recent video interview given after Linden Lab dropped the bombshell that a new virtual world was being developed, Linden Lab continues to dedicate resources to improving the current Second Life platform.

From a long list of improvements and enhancements that LL plans to bring to Second Life, they weighed priorities and scoped out a list of important projects for the next few months. They shared a few highlights from the list of projects LL will be working on so that residents are aware of what improvements to expect in the coming months. This isn’t an exhaustive list, of course, but here are a few of the initiatives LL thinks will have a big impact on improving all of our Second Life experiences.

One of those developments and improvements is Experience Keys, that I blogged about earlier.

Linden Lab posted this about Experience Keys:

Releasing Experience Keys
We recently put out a call for creators to join a limited beta for Experience Keys – new LSL functions and calls that make it possible to bypass the multiple permissions dialogs that you encounter with scripted objects today. Thanks to the applications we received, we now have enough creators to move ahead with the beta, and we’ve begun giving these beta users access the keys. The feedback we get from beta participants will help determine our next steps for making Experience Keys available to everyone, and we may start by expanding the beta group with a second group of creators.

In the meantime, though, everyone can get a sense for what’s possible with Experience Keys by downloading the Project Viewer and checking out The Cornfield game.

Improving Group Chat Performance

One of the most frustrating experiences in SL is group chat. As most of you know, group chat is notoriously laggy, resulting in either serious chat lag that makes a connected conversation impossible, or the fact that group chat just flat out refuses to open at all. I know that when I do large weddings, it is extremely helpful in trying to organize everyone that we all get into a group chat, and nine times out of ten, it just doesn’t work. It is incredibly frustrating.

Linden Lab states: “We’re carefully monitoring the effects of the changes we make to improve group chat performance, and so far, the results of efforts like upgrading the servers that host chat have been positive. We anticipate that the work to improve group chat performance will continue for some time as we identify the underlying causes of the issues, experiment with different fixes, and analyze results.”

Implementing the Chrome Embedded Framework

Linden Lab is working to upgrade the component of the viewer that is responsible for rendering web content, including the viewer splash screen (displayed before login), the content of a number of floaters, and inworld media-on-a-prim. This is important because it will fix a number of bugs (especially related to streaming media) that currently affect many Second Life users, and it will also make available many modern web features that aren’t possible with the current viewer.

Linden Lab states: “We’re making good progress on this initiative already, and expect to have an experimental Project Viewer ready for testing soon.”

More Texture and Mesh Loading Improvements

Building upon the performance enhancements made with Project Shining, LL is continuing to make improvements to how the viewer retrieves texture and mesh data from the servers. Linden Lab indiates that the next round of improvements will reduce the number of connections the viewer needs to get this data (making it easier on your router and network), while also using each connection to retrieve more data more quickly (for the technically inclined, this means that among other things we will add support for HTTP pipelining).

These improvements will mean that as you explore Second Life, objects will appear more quickly and reliably, especially for users who have longer latency connections (higher “ping times”), such as those who live outside the US.

Linden Lab states: “We have begun doing small scale testing with a selected group of users, and the early results have been great from a performance point of view. Unfortunately, we’ve also encountered a bug that we need to tackle before we can move on to releasing a project Viewer. We’re eager to move ahead as quickly as we can, and will … announce that project Viewer as soon as it’s available.”

Again, these certainly aren’t the only things LL is working on as they continue to improve Second Life, but they’re among their priority initiatives in the coming months.

It is certainly good to know that Linden Lab is clearly putting time and effort into the Second Life platform. Stay tuned here, as I will report changes and improvements as quickly as Linden Lab publishes them. Meanwhile, visit The Cornfield and check out the benefit of the Experience Keys improvements. I haven’t had time to visit it yet, but I plan to this weekend. My only concern is getting chased by someone with a chain saw! Horror flicks are not my thing!!

Have a wonderful weekend, and don’t forget to click over and check out our available land! This is a great weekend to stay indoors, keep cool and shop for your upgrade or new home today!

I remain respectfully yours,
~ Suzanne Piers
ZoHa Islands Social Media Manager

Interview with Linden Labs: Keep Calm and Carry On!

I was unable to attend the live interview that Jessica Lyon held with Linden Lab staffers Oz Linden and Pete Linden this morning, but the video of their interview has already been released. I was excited to listen to what they had to say.

Jessica’s opening salvo was awesome. She doesn’t pull any punches, opening with the question of the day, which she directed to Pete Linden, Linden Labs’ Director of Communications:

Jessica asks: “Does Linden Lab have plans, either near or far, to shut down Second Life? Has Linden Labs discussed, planned, strategized on how they are going to shut down Second Life? Or even if there is any intention of shutting down Second Life? Does Linden Labs intend to shut down Second Life?”

Pete resounded with a resounding, “No! Absolutely not.”

Pete went on to say that there are plans to continue to improve it, there is not any plan to shut it down, that it is not going away. There are plans to continue to make Second Life better and better.

Jessica made a point of pointing out that Pete’s credibility is on the line as Communications Director, and that he would basically be committing career suicide if he was prevaricating.  It is fair to say that Pete is not lying. He reassured everyone that he understands this, and that he is not being deceptive.

Pete’s message to the community is that Oz and he wanted to come this morning to reiterate what Linden Labs been trying to put out there in emails and in the forums that not only is SL not going away, but they have big plans to continue to improve it,  and that it has a long life ahead of it. There is no intention of ending this amazing platform. What it boils down to, he said, is this: “It is not going away. More improvements are coming.”

You can listen to the interview in its entirety here:

Keep Calm and Carry On! is the message that Linden Labs is giving us. Second Life will continue to exist and improve.

I remain respectfully yours,

~ Suzanne Piers

Social Media Manager

The Future of Second Life

On Wednesday, July 2, 2014 at 7:00 a.m. SLT, Jessica Lyon, project developer for Firestorm Viewer, is hosting a Q&A session with Oz Linden, Technical Director of Second Life, and possibly Pete Linden, Director of Communications at Second Life.

The topic to be discussed at this session is strictly the future of the current Second Life platform. At no time will they be discussing the new “Second Life 2” platform. This discussion is strictly about Second Life, it’s future and the direction that Linden Labs is planning for this platform. There is plenty of time for discussion of the new platform another time.

If you cannot attend in world, the event will be recorded and posted on the Firestorm website, as well as transcribed and summarized by Inara Pey.

The event will also be livestreamed at http://www.livestream.com/metaworld2

If you wish to attend in-world, arrive early.  If you have questions you wish to have answered, please visit this post on the Firestorm Viewer website and drop a comment. Please keep your questions to the topic of the current Second Life platform and not the new platform.

The slurl to attend in-world is here: 

I remain respectfully yours,

~ Suzanne Piers

ZoHa Islands Social Media Manager


Save Second Life!!!

The most important thing is…. Nobody Panic! The last thing we want to do is crash the SL economy!!

As a companion piece to the blog post I just did about the new Second Life 2 planned for 2016, I am reposting, in it’s entirety (cut and paste) a wonderful blog post by Jessica Lyon, Firestorm Viewer’s Project Manager. Please click on the link here to see the post in its original form.

~~*** ~~

(I will do my best to keep my opinions out of this post while promising I will voice it sometime soon in some other more appropriate venue. For this I will stick to the facts. JL)


New Second Life platform to come from Linden Lab

Many of you have heard by now that Ebbe Linden (CEO @ LL) slipped news at Friday’s Third Party Viewer Meeting that LL is moving resources to developing a new platform, a next-generation platform built “in the spirit of Second Life.” I will provide links to related media and articles at the bottom of this post, and I highly encourage you to read them to form your own opinions. But for now, here are a few facts as we know them.

  • The current plan is that the new platform will not be open source at least initially. (This means there will be no Third Party Viewer alternatives at least initially, and there will be a new viewer built by LL.) This could change over the course of time.
  • LL intends to continue maintaining and developing Second Life while they develop the new platform and will operate them in parallel even after the new platform is launched. SL will remain as long as it is profitable for LL to continue operating it.
  • The new platform will be built “in the spirit of Second Life” and will put focus on content creators as the primary customer. LL wants to make it so good SL users will want to migrate to it.
  • Assets (inventory) from Second Life will “likely” not be transferable because they do not want to constrain what is possible by maintaing backwards compatibility. This wasn’t said with complete certainty, though, which suggests some content may be permitted.
  • Second Life will continue to be improved, albeit on a smaller scale. Oz Linden is now Technical Director and in charge of a small team who will keep development in SL going.
  • This new platform is still in very early stages, and it is unlikely even a beta will be seen before next year.


For some, this will be very exciting news and for others it will come as very scary news. For most it will create a level of uncertainty toward the future of our current virtual world. I’ve read and heard some people stating they will now stop buying content, stop building, sell their land, etc., wondering what’s the point. Please don’t do this! Whether you are on the side of keeping SL alive and well or not, this type of action/reaction is the worst you can do for all of us.

Personally, while I would love to see a new platform succeed I would also like to see Second Life thrive well into the future, but it is going to need a boost! Here is where you come in!

Where you come in!

Your opinion matters more than ever! Think of one thing, whether a feature, fix, improvement or whatever, that you feel will achieve the following goals best and drop it in a comment on this post.

  1. What will add the greatest value to existing users?
  2. What will attract new users to Second Life?
  3. What will improve profit margins for LL by encouraging spending among all its users? This can include anything from Premium signups to land sales to user-generated content sales.
  4. What can do these things without breaking existing content and without requiring changes in LL policies?

We are looking for a magic silver bullet to give Oz that can be introduced to SL to make it bigger and better than ever before!
Lets hope you have it! Good luck, and in the meantime keep doing as you always do! Also, don’t panic!


Related media and informational links:


Jessica Lyon
Project Manager
The Phoenix Firestorm Project, Inc

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Let’s follow Jessica’s lead and do everything we can to save Second Life!!

I remain respectfully yours,

~ Suzanne Piers, ZI Social Media Manager

Ebbe Altberg Speaks!

Ebbe Linden

Ebbe Linden

I was very fortunate to snag an interview with Ebbe Altberg, Linden Labs new CEO. I sent him a list of questions, and he quite graciously answered all of them. Linden Labs has many things “in the works” that they are not able to address, but I am excited about the direction he is taking Linden Labs and I am hopeful that under his guidance, we can continue to make Second Life a fresh, exciting place to be. It’s so easy to get jaded, after being in SL for awhile and feeling ripped off by people and griefers alike. But after watching my RL friend’s awe and wonder at all SL has to offer, I believe that we can regain a fresh perspective and that sense of excitement once again.

Take a look at what Ebbe had to say. I’ve cut and pasted his responses here and have not edited or altered them in any manner. Many, many thanks to Linden Labs staffer Peter Gray for facilitating this interview.

Suzanne: What do you see as your biggest challenge in the next 12 months?
Ebbe: Overall, our biggest challenge is with ease-of-use. Second Life is incredibly powerful and complex – it’s a 3D object creation tool, a communication platform, a user-to-user marketplace, and much more, all in one – and making it truly easy to use is a massive challenge and an area we need to improve in order to take virtual worlds to the next level.

Suzanne: How do you plan to address the ongoing problem of copybotting and content theft in Second Life?
Ebbe: Creators are essential to Second Life, and we want to do everything we can to support them and help them to be successful. The fact that users can profit from their creativity is part of what makes our virtual world unique, and we’re continually looking for ways to thwart those who copy and steal content while keeping it easy for users to create and profit from their unique creations.

Suzanne: This is a four-part question about mainland:

a)What are your plans for the Mainland? Will more mainland be offered, developed or expanded upon?
Ebbe: There are currently no plans to expand the Mainland, but we are always looking at our current offerings and making small developed areas to enhance the Mainland experience.

b) Would Linden Labs ever consider allowing landowners to drop a sim in the sailable water on Blake Sea? Currently our problem with providing sailable waters is that we have to sink a sim in order to do so, which is quite expensive as we cannot rent out that land and simply becomes an expense.
Ebbe: We’re not looking at expanding the Blake Sea, which is currently composed of fully sailable regions. If you’re interested in providing water space around your region, we do offer low-cost alternatives to Full Regions and Homestead Regions, called Openspaces that could be used for this.

c) How are the Linden homes working? Are people using them and liking them? Are there any plans to expand them?
Ebbe: Linden Homes are a very popular product, and an account benefit that our Premium Subscribers enjoy – they are always near full-occupancy. We currently do not have any plans expand them, but we are working on an update to the product for the near future, which will enhance the home models, and bring them up-to-date with today’s content creation standards.

d) Why does the mainland not allow terraforming?
Ebbe: Actually, the Mainland does allow terraforming. Most Mainland regions have the ability to be terraformed to +/- 4m, and this restriction is a product feature difference between our Mainland and Private Island region products.

Suzanne: Does Linden Labs plan on any pricing structure changes for privately purchased sims?
Ebbe: We have no plans about this that we could share at this time.

Suzanne: What, if anything, does Linden Labs have planned to help strengthen the economy in SL, and assist businesses in gaining a foothold in SL?
Ebbe: We’ll certainly strive to maintain the amazing strength of our vibrant economy. Today, Second Life has the strongest and largest virtual economy based on user-to-user transactions in the world: the price of Linden dollars has been very stable, tens of millions of dollars have been paid out to users, there are more than a million transactions between users every day, and right now, creators are selling more than three million virtual items on the Marketplace. Starting a successful business – in the physical world or the virtual one – isn’t always an easy endeavor, but there are no shortage of opportunities or success stories in Second Life today, and that absolutely will continue in the future as well.

Suzanne: We feel that the search feature in SL needs serious improvement. In order for residents to find businesses in SL, they must use search. Is Linden Labs working on improving that?
Ebbe: Yes. We completely agree that search is in need of improvement, and we’re putting in some work to do just that.

Suzanne: One of the biggest concerns to business owners and land owners in SL is keeping people in SL. What plans, if any, does Linden Labs have for partnering with Philip Rosenberg and High Fidelity? It would be a huge draw to SL if we could embrace the oculus rift and the ability to have immersive experience in SL.
Ebbe: We have a good relationship with Philip Rosedale and the High Fidelity team and we expect that to continue, but there are no real plans to establish a partnership at this time.

As we said in our blog post about integrating the Oculus Rift with Second Life, we’ve been very happy to see all the recent activity and interest in the virtual reality space – it’s a sign of progress and innovation in the industry and helps validate the space Second Life has led for more than 10 years. Developments like the Oculus Rift hold great potential for Second Life, and we’re very excited to bring the virtual world into the future with new technologies and partners. We have already embraced and integrated the Oculus Rift in a Project Viewer available to everyone now, and we plan to continue to support relevant new technology as it progresses.

Suzanne: If there a plan for structuring the real estate in SL along the lines of creating a central grid, where you could go from one world to another, such as from High Fidelity to SL using Oculus Rift?
Ebbe: Our focus is on making Second Life the absolute best it can be and bringing the greatest value to our customers, not on building things like the ability to teleport your Second Life avatar to a separate platform.

Suzanne: Does Linden Labs have any plans to offer different real estate sim configurations, such as a “party sim” that could hold up to 400 avatars for instance, or have a sim that is between a full prim sim and a homestead sim (7,500 prims)?
Ebbe: No, we don’t have any plans to offer regions like this that we could share at this time.

Suzanne: Real estate owners are the number one business in SL right now. Would LL be willing to bring back the Land Expos? In the past, these expos were a huge event spread over 10 sims for 7 to 8 days, and is a wonderful opportunity for estate owners to get together and kibbutz. It would be a wonderful opportunity to have Linden Lab staffers attend and really get to know SL estate owners and help improve communication and create a dialogue.
Ebbe: We’re certainly happy to support and help promote community events and meetings – and to participate as appropriate – but this sounds like an initiative that would be best organized and hosted by estate owners, rather than Linden Lab.

Suzanne: In addressing communication, estate owners feel that there is a lack of communication and that the case workers at Linden Labs aren’t listening to their concerns. Are you aware of this problem and how can estate owners help facilitate a better exchange of ideas with Linden Labs?
Ebbe: Improving our communications with our customers and community at large has been one of my early goals since joining the company, and we’ve made significant strides in that regard. We’ll always be open to listening to concerns and ideas – in addition to direct conversations, meetings, emails, we keep an eye on discussions in blogs, forums, other social media, JIRA, for example – and we’re working to be as proactive and transparent in our communication with our customers as we can be.

Suzanne: Linden Labs currently does not provide support 24/7, and there is a gap between midnight and 8am SLT that is a “dead zone.” Since SL is 24 hours, and we have many clients and customers around the world that are only online during that time, this creates a huge problem for us in helping our customers and clients get their issues resolved. Does Linden Labs have any plans to bring back 24 hour support?
Ebbe: It sounds like you’re referring to our Concierge-level support, which does have a gap in shifts between 12am and 7am PT/SLT. However, we do currently offer live support for billing and basic assistance around the clock, and even during the hours that the Concierge team is unavailable, you should still be able to reach a live agent by phone or chat.

Suzanne: Will Linden Labs consider bringing back the community gateways, to help drive noob traffic to the estates and businesses?
Ebbe: I’m not ready to make a commitment saying we’ll bring back the community gateways program, but we would certainly consider an approach like it. I like the idea of empowering users themselves to bring in new Second Life users and help them get started inworld, as opposed to Linden Lab being the sole source of new users and pushing them all through our own registration and initial experience ‘funnel.’ The challenge is to do this in a way that’s scalable and makes the best use of our resources – i.e. provides a consistently high quality experience to new users, adds significant value for us and our customers, etc.

Suzanne: I know that Education and Nonprofits are going to start getting special pricing once again, to encourage virtual education. How can businesses like ZoHa Islands get involved with encouraging the influx of education and nonprofit organizations, and getting them started in-world?
Ebbe: The educational and nonprofit discount was actually reinstated and expanded last July, and we’re happy to see organizations like these continue to see great value in using Second Life. We don’t currently have a program to refer organizations that apply for the discount to particular businesses in Second Life, but certainly want to make it easy for inworld businesses to connect with prospective customers of all kinds.

Suzanne: Jump forward six years. What does SL look like in 2020?
Ebbe: In 2020, the virtual world will be incredibly immersive, and you’ll truly feel a realistic sense of presence as you explore and interact inworld. You’ll be able to participate across all kinds of devices, including tablets and mobile devices, laptops and PCs, virtual reality headsets like the Oculus Rift. Creators – from hobbyists to professionals – will be making an ever-more-diverse range of rich content and experiences that will be easily accessed and enjoyed by a massive global audience. Some of the experiences, creations, and uses of the virtual world will likely include very advanced and extremely high-quality versions of the kinds of things enjoyed in Second Life today, but I expect new uses will also emerge. The virtual economy will be operating at a scale many times what it is today, and we’ll see new records set for the profits that people earn from their virtual creations.


Once again, thank you, Ebbe Altberg, for taking time out of your busy schedule to answer my questions. I appreciate the time and effort very much.

I remain respectfully yours,
~ Suzanne Piers, ZI Social Media Manager