Oct 17, 2012

Prims and Plumbobs

Is #SecondLife a games company?


I guess this post was a long time coming, and finally after being sparked further by conversation on Twitter on this topic, I felt the need to better elaborate my actual position on this subject.


With the release of Creatorverse and other games from Linden Lab, not to mention Linden Realms, I have a very distinct take on it all. Maybe it’s the same as many people in Second Life and maybe it’s along the lines of the many gamers out there?



Prims and Plumbobs_002



Generally speaking, I’m against the gaming focus of Linden Lab. I won’t mince words here because this is exactly what many of us said was coming when Rodvik took over as CEO. We were outraged then at the possibility, and many of the people who are now playing up to Linden Lab and praising their games now are still some of the people who were saying they’d never betray their core community like that to begin with.


To wit, this is exactly what so many of us feared when Rodimus Prim took the helm.


So, do I somehow retract my original assertions from so long ago? Hell no. They are still exactly accurate and now coming true.


While people continue to back pedal and act like they were in favor all along, and point out how Linden Lab was always a gaming company from the start, I’m simply going to tell everyone to remove their collective lips from Linden Lab’s ass.


Here’s the run-down for anyone keeping score:


Rodvik popped in, took some time to “figure out the X-factor” of Second Life. After some time, he asserted he understood what he just inherited. Hired a marketing person named Kim who said she understood, and shortly after resigned. Will Wright (SPORE) is now on the board of directors, and maybe Philip Rosedale, who at this point can do nothing but watch in disgrace as Linden Lab is bastardized.


Maybe Second Life was built as a “game” in the very beginning, but it became more – it evolved. It became what it was supposed to be, and it thrived and grew under that premise. In short, Second Life became more than a game, an open ended virtual environment sandbox where the community created the world and propped up an economy with commerce and transactions.


That’s not a video game, so you can stuff it.


It went stagnant and faltered when the people in charge, or maybe the board of directors, decided to pretend like they had a single clue what they had on their hands. In reality, they had (and still apparently have) no clue what the hell they actually have on their hands. Is it any coincidence that it started stagnating from about Mark Kingdon forward? That’s about the time when the people in charge decided to start treating Second Life (and Linden Lab) like everything except what it actually is.


Do you know how I actually know this to be true? Because they’re actively ignoring a potential multi-billion dollar cash cow in favor of video games. Yes, you read correctly. Second Life is a multi-billion dollar cash cow biting Linden Lab in the ass and they have absolutely no idea how to unleash that potential.


That’s why they’re making video games. Because Rodvik actually doesn’t know what to do with Second Life, and the first order of business for a CEO who doesn’t understand their flagship product is to “diversify” and try to recreate that success in other ways because they don’t see a future in what they already have.


It would be like Nintendo deciding today to “diversify” and make home computers instead of game consoles. Even you, right now reading this, think that’s the dumbest thing Nintendo could do. And yet, too many are totally ok with Linden Lab willfully jumping the shark and “diversifying” into another category of product that may have some similarities with, but is decidedly a different market than, their flagship.


Does that mean that I don’t think Linden Lab is allowed to diversify? Of course not. But I’m not going to sit around and call the writing on the wall something it isn’t. This isn’t a “doom” post for Second Life, but instead it’s a post that says:


Look, Second Life started like a game until somebody realized how much better and important it could be. So it spent years evolving into an entirely different animal – right up to working with Open Source to properly diversify their flagship and increase their holdings in a wider capacity. It catered to educational aspects, business, and serious application like any sane platform would and should (just ask Apple and Microsoft).


Then, somewhere along the way something changed and there was a falling out. Mark Kingdon came in and made it worse, because he clearly didn’t understand what he had just inherited. And maybe Philip in his interim CEO position tried again to talk some sense into the board of directors… and failed. So now we have Rodvik, who we all feared would treat Second Life like just another video game (because few asserted at the time it was a video game), and now that he actually is treating the company like a video game company, and pumping out video games, it’s a huge change.


You just haven’t caught onto the fact it’s a very big deal that the focus is now video games for Linden Lab. I’m not entirely certain people understand that Second Life being the platform of distribution unto itself is a vast difference to being offered on Steam which is a third party distribution platform.


Does anyone realize that’s a major step backwards? Going from being the platform to being just another product.


This has huge implications going forward… Second Life itself isn’t going to “go away”, but going forward you’re going to find it is a very different animal than what it originally evolved into. In some ways that’s fine, because I don’t think there are too many people who actually do get what the hell these virtual worlds are ultimately going to evolve into if they had enough sense to let it without sabotaging them. But Second Life is going to start de-evolving in the bigger sense as it tries to be a video game platform instead of a Metaverse platform.


I don’t want to hear the bullshit story about how Second Life was never a Metaverse platform to begin with, either. It started as a game, evolved into a Metaverse platform (or potentially a MetaGalaxy) and then did a full stop, 180 degrees and promptly pissed itself in fear.


There’s a reason why it was referred to as a Metaverse, and to wit by Philip Rosedale and Cory Ondrejka as I amply demonstrate with an hour of STFU: It wasn’t a game, below in video form.




Enjoy an entire hour of STFU. It wasn’t a video game.


Google TechTalks
March 1, 2006
Philip Rosedale and Cory Ondrejka



So why do I have a problem with Linden Lab “diversifying” into video games? Because Second Life, their flagship product and what Linden Lab is literally famous for, isn’t a video game. And the more they “diversify” into video games, and treat Second Life like a video game platform, the more they are de-evolving what Second Life actually aspired to.


It’s nothing less than an insult. That’s why.


But they are welcome to keep bastardizing things, and building video games. That’s their own prerogative. They might even make some decent money doing that, too. After all, they’ve got the kahones to charge $10 for a fsking unfinished alpha.


My vision of a Metaverse didn’t look like the Sims. But apparently chasing EA’s shadow and pretending to be the little game company that could is more important to Rodimus Prim than actually being the CEO of a Metaverse platform.


When all you have is a gaming executive, all the virtual worlds look like plumbobs.



Prims and Plumbobs_001