Meanwhile, in our Second Life…

Bear ManThe last two months have been interesting ones for my skybox (apartment) business in Second Life. I’m going to briefly note some trends I’ve noticed – and perhaps you’ve seen them too. (And if you’re a Resident and want to check out my skyboxes, you can directly teleport here.) One note: Many of these changes happened together – or closely enough together that their impact overlaps. Some of these things happened a while back (for example, the switch to Viewer 2 at the end of April), but I think the effects are just shaking out from that change.

  • I’ve noticed that rentals – and businesses in general – are down. This is merely my impression; not only have things been slow for me, but quite a few other Residents have told me their small businesses were having tough times. There’s two possible reasons for that dip – neither is good.
  • The first would be if Second Life’s economy is on a bit of a “lag” from the US and world economy – which would mean the worst of the recession is on us in Second Life right now.
  • The second possible reason is the consolidation of power in Second Life. The Lindens seem much more interested in catering to large, powerful businesses (an intensive model) rather than many small businesses (an extensive model).
  • Going along with that latter point, the “Linden Homes” initiative correlated strongly with a dip in my business. I’m not sure why the Lindens decided they needed to move in on this market.
  • I suspect – though I haven’t researched it – that the changes to XStreet (now to become the “Marketplace”) reflects both these changes. The “anti-freebie” rules drove out many small merchants; XStreet itself has become an extension of the Lindens.
  • The switch to Viewer 2 (and the server changes that occurred) in the last week of April made things almost untenable for a week. I was “Ruthed” repeatedly, couldn’t teleport, couldn’t log in – regardless of what viewer I used. I’m personally aware of four Residents who were either unable to regain access to their own accounts after the change or were so frustrated that they gave up on Second Life.
  • One of my favorite viewers for doing routine work in SL – the Rainbow Netbook viewer – has ended development thanks to the Third Party Viewer Policy. And were I to keep using it, the Lindens could completely ban my account.
  • The new viewer has a default of only allowing the Resident to go to “General” lands (it used to be “PG”). Of course, most of the land I have was on “Moderate” (previously “Mature”) land, which has led to at least one Resident complaining that I was trying to scam people because they couldn’t TP to one of my offices.

All of these items seem to signal that Linden Labs has decided that they have a “deep” market – people, companies, and universities – so invested that they don’t have to reach out to the rest of us. Those people who are invested will put up with all the changes and pay a premium. And in the meantime, the small, weird, bizarre elements that made Second Life worth going to will be forced to move somewhere else, leaving a corporate imitation mockery behind.

As always, I hope I’m wrong. I’m afraid that I’m right.

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