2022 – Second Life Year In Review
A Return to Our Roots…and a New Vision for the Future
As 2022 comes to a close, it is time for our annual look back at some of the year’s most notable developments and accomplishments in Second Life. The year 2022 began with a bang as original founder Philip Rosedale returned to Second Life as a strategic advisor. Philip’s pioneering vision for the now-mainstream concepts of virtual economies, cultures, and communities played a crucial role in the launch and subsequent success of Second Life since its inception almost two decades ago – and we are excited to work closely with him once again to shape our future direction.
One of the newest Second Life initiatives championed by Philip has been the long-awaited Preview Grid availability of “Puppetry“, which adds avatar “expressiveness” either via camera-based movement or connecting the viewer to motion-based capture hardware for a whole new level of interaction and connectedness. Our announcement of this work was among the most-shared posts on our social channels for the year, and we’ve opened up the development of this feature to community contributions.
The introduction of Event Regions makes it easier to hold large-scale events with expanded capacity for more concurrent visitors – owners and renters of Event Regions can host up to 175 avatars and get a 20% script performance boost along with other benefits.
Second Life membership got a power-up too, with the introduction of Premium Plus, which rolled out to a steaming hot reception this summer. The introduction of the Plus membership tier later in the year has allowed residents to dip their toes into the waters of SL membership and mainland ownership. Everyone can find a level that fits their Second Life needs at the moment, and we hope the expanded offerings will continue to serve you well.
This year, Residents spent nearly 320 million hours inworld, and we hope that you were having a blast the whole time!
Want a sneak peek at the shape of things to come in 2023? Here’s a look at what’s already in the works for the new year and beyond:
In 2022 we started working on a number of graphical improvements including physical based rendering (PBR), GLTF adoption, and reflection probes – with the intent of shipping our first iteration of these features early in the coming year.
Creators will be able to use tools like Substance Painter to generate GLTF materials to import into Second Life. PBR will leverage the new material types and sample from reflection probes for environment reflections and lighting. Second Life is about to get a lot more shiny.
All the reflection probes work set us up nicely for a much requested feature. Yes, Planar mirrors are also on our roadmap for 2023!
Also in the works for 2023:
- Avatar customization improvements to simplify creating your virtual identity, including inventory thumbnails to give a preview of what’s sitting in those boxes
- New user experience upgrades to better fuel retention, engagement, and growth across key parts of the new user journey
- New centralized “hubs” to better connect residents to the communities that match their passions and interests
- First peek at a world and avatar centered mobile-first Second Life experience
- New LSL functions that improve the quality of life for scripters
- Even more performance improvements to increase the quality and visual fidelity of the Second Life experience
- …and much more!
In addition to the Second Life innovations noted above, there were several other key accomplishments in 2022 worth spotlighting.
Bringing Second Life Back into the Conversation
In 2022, the renewed general interest in the Metaverse translated into significant media opportunities for Second Life. Over 21,000 articles and other stories included Second Life in 2022 – nearly 5 times greater than the amount of media coverage we received in 2021. We are especially proud of the range and scale of the media coverage – everything from community forums to more specialized technology press as well as some of the world’s largest media properties including the BBC, CNN and The Wall Street Journal. The four part Wall Street Journal podcast, How to Build a Metaverse, was particularly excellent coverage.
New Options, New Opportunities
In response to community feedback for more Premium account options, we debuted two all-new membership opportunities (Plus and Premium Plus) – each with added features and extras to match any budget. Check out our Premium overview page for a comparison of all benefits. In addition to land, groups, stipends, priority entry and multitude others, we’ve also partnered with a third party viewer – Speedlight – to give Premium Plus members unlimited online time and priority support access on “Speedlight” – a mobile and browser- based viewer which allows you to stay connected to Second Life while on the go.
Premium Plus members are now also able to purchase a Homestead region with their membership with no additional requirements for a full region. We’ve seen a lot of interest here, and are happy to be able to offer this valuable benefit.
By far, the most popular perks of both the Premium and Premium Plus membership are Linden Homes, which give Residents the opportunity to move into a ready-made home crafted in a variety of styles – including the new-for-2022 Newbrooke and Sakura themes. Could another new theme be around the corner? Saddle up and stay tuned…and expect even more new extras and enhancements to the various Premium offerings in the coming year.
Additionally, we continued to rotate in new “Last Name” options for community members seeking to better craft their identity and personas, including limited-time availability of several in-demand and specialized last names. Demonpaws, anyone?
Improved Performance & Viewer Enhancements
Our engineering team continues to make general performance updates to increase the quality of the Second Life experience. For example, there was improved support for complex scripting capabilities, often doubling the number of scripts that can run in regions! We also migrated our code to GitHub to help improve and modernize our tooling and better support the open source community.
There were also several backend improvements made to logins, including a fix to new device email notifications for newly created accounts, performance improvements for the viewer login handshake, and improvements to metrics and diagnostics for our internal tools. We also added the long-requested Multi-Factor Authentication (MFA) to help community members better protect their accounts.
Other modifications to the Official Viewer were made based on community feedback, including improvements to Viewer profiles for a more responsive experience (including streamlined availability to Groups, which is now more accessible on the main Viewer profile tab).
Linkset Structured Data
In November, we introduced Linkset Structured Data (LSD), a new way for LSL to store data. The feature has been covered by external blogposts, and has been touted as a game changer for scripters who need persistent storage of data.
New Partnerships & Possibilities
One of the biggest community developments of 2022 was Second Life’s acquisition of several SL-related assets of CasperTech, which will help ensure that its popular merchant and vendor services will continue to operate smoothly with even more enhancements in the future.
Our parent company Linden Lab also announced that Tilia LLC, the all-in-one payments platform that powers the Second Life economy. secured a strategic investment from J.P. Morgan Payments. The investment will help enhance its current capabilities throughout its processing platform including providing increased payment and payout methods, expanded pay-out currencies and support services.
There were several exciting entertainment and media industry partnerships in Second Life over the past year, too. The year started strong with the Metaverse Fashion Week event, held inworld in February. The event, which was covered in major outlets including Vogue and Glamour, included an elaborate inworld runway show that debuted an all-new virtual fashion collection from designer Jonathan Simkhai (who debuted the physical collection of the same fashions the next day in NYC).
Acclaimed DJ and musician Eli Brown launched a unique interactive music experience and nightclub in Second Life in partnership with London Records.
Our partnership with Film Threat also continued with several virtual cinema screenings, including the premieres of Draxtor Despres’ documentary “Virtual Cultures in Pandemic Times” and Huckleberry Hax’s full-length shot-in-SL machinima “WAARHEID.”
Community Celebrations, Marketing Milestones
All of the media attention throughout the first half of the year helped to heighten interest in our SL19B Celebration, which was the most successful birthday event ever with an all-time record for attendance and participation! The 24-region event housed 225 community exhibits and the related music events featured a total of 346 performers! We also saw record engagement at the SL19B Shop & Hop 20-region shopping event, which racked up all-time record sales for the 400 participating merchants. So, who is ready for SL20B?!!
In 2022, we opened the all-new Second Life University to help better educate both new and existing community members on how to get the most out of our virtual world. This initiative includes a series of both live and produced community videos educating participants on a variety of topics including Viewer Basics, dressing your avatar, and much more.
In addition, the community team debuted a new weekly email newsletter for those who want to stay connected with regular updates on the latest news and events each week.
Happy Holidays from Second Life
Thank you to the entire Second City community for your ongoing loyalty and support. While we will continue to work hard at Linden Lab to improve Second Life, we know that it is the Residents and your many creative contributions that form the heart and soul of our shared virtual world. Our Metaverse, if we may.
Have a great holiday,
The Second Life team