Make way for Third Life!
In the wake of the “sudden” announcement by Ebbe about making a totally new platform that is closed source, not backward compatible with Second Life, etc, I find it a little silly how everyone is acting surprised. Let’s get this one out of the way... you shouldn’t have been surprised. I mentioned this mentality last year (September 2013).
As outlined with the Desura hypothetical, your content isn’t of use to a AAA developer but it’s a goldmine to indie game developers. If Linden Lab refuses to “work within the system” (see the following citation below), they are going outside of it to a place you have no control over and can’t compete with them at. Linden Lab cannot compete with the community in Second Life on their own terms, even when arbitrarily poaching everything you are already offering and have been for ten years. So if they can’t win in Second Life, they’ll just change the game to something they have the complete control over and you have no manner to compete with.
The citation mentioned from the post was simply that of Morningstar and Farmer in Lessons Learned from Lucasfilms Habitat, so don’t feel like you’re missing out on anything major there.
The original point of that post last year was that I was outlining the mentality of Linden Lab and what they likely saw as the “problem” (namely you) and that things like Desura, and the video game “products” mentality was the closed system approach to it all.
The TOS was simply an attempt to unify it all together using Second Life, but since the community had a complete meltdown over it, they figured the only real way to go about it then was just to make a new system from the ground up and make sure it was a closed system where they didn’t have to compete with you.
Now, I know that this “new system” has been in the works for probably two years, but I do remember echoing this same mentality a few times before last year.
If they can’t compete with you in Second Life, then they’ll just make an entirely new system which is closed source and has much tighter restrictions so the new system will come with the TOS in line with Desura and likely more of a closed developer program to be a content provider – something they can approve or disapprove on a case by case basis and have total control over.
Sounds peachy doesn’t it?
Now they’re eliminating the ability for the community to be a free market and creating a mandate to play by their rules entirely.
So in that type of contract to be a content creator, you’re likely going to be giving them the right to revenue share across all services and such (just like the botched TOS), which means the content allowed will adhere to things that can be resold and licensed to third parties (think Desura and Indie Devs) as assets.
Don’t like those terms? Tough.
Sure you can still keep using Second Life, but as of right now you might as well be on notice for being a “legacy user base”.
Meddling Kids and Their Dog...
Let’s just say that for the past 5+ years, Linden Lab has been driven by the mentality of a villain in Scooby-Doo. Constantly saying “We would have gotten away with it, too, if it weren’t for you meddling kids and that furry!”
All they’ve been doing is effectively poaching the community and trying to impose tighter controls over them all. Essentially they’ve been getting beaten at their own game by the very community they relied on. You’ve been a very effective thorn in their side all of this time...
Even when it came down to the third party viewers, they were outmatched. So is it any wonder they imposed the blind viewer rule (you can’t display what viewer you are using over your head in world), the “shared experience” rules that effectively make all TPVs appeal to Linden Lab in order to get any new feature included “officially”, the JIRA total lockdown and complete inability for public discourse or discussion only for them to wholesale start closing issues and feature requests behind closed doors?
The move with Desura and the ToS (and the extra video games) was/is as I have said a power play to wrestle total control and force the community to play by their rules at all times. So they’ve tried (very unsuccessfully) to play in your world without their own imagination, now they’re just going to make it their world, their rules and make you sign a contract to authorize imagination.
The only way for Linden Lab to score a touchdown is simply to keep moving the goal posts away from you and closer to themselves.
Old Man Jenkins...
So what does that mean in the long term?
I suppose that means between now and then, Second Life is legacy. Unless you’re making mesh content you’re probably not going to be able to import to whatever new system they are making, and even then I’d wager there are going to be some really asinine rights that you’ll have to sign away to be a content creator on that new system.
Should you just sell off everything in SL and move on? I can’t answer that for you, but I’d say it was a bit premature to do so right now. I’d wait until more is known about that new system in the future before you really decide one way or the other. If nothing else is clear, then the high likelihood of Linden Lab doing what I’ve described here today should at least be enough to understand that Second Life is walking dead right now...
No longer a matter of if, but when, it’ll get phased out in the future.
I can also see a collapse of the Second Life economy and market coming in that future as well. A lot of people taking a wait and see attitude, only to (almost simultaneously) be brought into an uproar and selling off everything (closing sims, land barons dumping everything, people clearing inventory and cashing out). Not going to say it definitely will happen, but the more that closed system reality sinks in, the more likely it’ll happen.
Right now, what you will likely see is a public relations ongoing to quell the “rumors” and “speculation”, keeping Second Life stable (and the Lindex) up until the very end. Think of it like a frog in a pot of water which is slowly being brought to temperature.
Or it could go the way that Active Worlds went (more likely) with a bunch of die-hard users in Second Life sticking around for years despite the new system but receiving less and less support and updates because most of the love is going to the new platform.
They don’t actually need the existing Second Life user base at that point. If you think boycotting them as content creators is going to make a point... you’re probably wrong. If the new system is a platform for indie developers to utilize for their games to publish on and it’s integrated with the compatible (mesh) assets, then Linden Lab will leverage Desura and tout the new system as an easy publish model for indie developers that happens to have access to a ton of assets via licensing and access to a large user base (casual gamers).
So there’s where all of the higher quality worlds are going to come from, and now a plethora of reasons (added value) for Premium accounts to access those things.
Let’s face it... a lot of you are still going to jump ship and use that new system. You always seem to whenever a new thing comes out (Cloud Party, Blue Mars, etc). A lot of you are going to jump ship to OpenSim and turn your back on Linden Lab altogether. And a lot of you are just going to throw in the towel and go back to Real Life, having decided that you’ve made a good go of it in Second Life but now it’s time to retire.
Whether you do any of that now or in the future is entirely a decision for you to make. As for myself, I’m barely in Second Life any longer... Real Life has better graphics.
Between now and then, just take anything Ebbe says purely with a grain of salt until you actually get your hands on it and can use it (and read all the terms you’re agreeing to). Until then, it’s all hearsay... even from Ebbe, just to keep the kids from rioting before they can jump ship themselves.
If anybody needs me, just log into the beta for Real Life.
My user name is Will Burns.