Monday, April 11, 2011

Downward Spiral?

Bot Campers 
Location: Not Shopping Anywhere

I have been critical of Linden Lab here, but I'm a bit blind-sided by the slew of blog posts about the gradual decline of Second Life. Tateru Nino's charts, showing concurrency dropping faster than new residents can replace those who leave, are depressing. Just last week she was optimistic about the future of SL!

Everyone reading her numbers will point a finger here or there, but let's consider the entire virtual world as an complex system of linked parts. Here's just one of the downward cycles at play:
  • Lag forces us to shop less in-world (those pesky textures never load).
  • Meanwhile, Linden Lab sets up Marketplace to head off competition and rake in a % of each transaction.
  • We buy something at Marketplace instead of in-world.
  • Merchant in-world sees little point in keeping a shop to pay tier for a empty store.
  • Merchant closes in-world shop, puts land up for sale.
  • Land does not sell; merchant abandons land. Tier income now zero for Linden Lab.
  • Linden Lab must keep server running to support remaining plots in region.
  • Visitors to SL (the few who make it past their first log in) see more empty and lonely sims, decide to leave.
  • Fewer residents to support Marketplace, Linden Lab loses their cut of those transactions.
  • Linden Lab has less cash on hand to hire staff to address problems of lag and cannot lower tier.
We can second guess the Lab until Doomsday, but had the Lab worked on a reducing lag or setting up an economic model that would have permitted lower tiers, might be different.

There are many other cycles at play, but for now they point in the same direction.


Elaine Greywalker said...

I imagine that there are various servers of disparate qualities serving up regions to be rezzed on the fly. Lag has to be really bad before I give up. Oh, let's not discuss lag.

I log on less than I used to. Sometimes because there are other activities I prefer to pursue and sometimes because I've done a lot of what I wanted to do when I first started SL. In some cases, getting a first life desire met in Second Life brings a "meh!" reaction and other times drives (or enables) me to replicate it in first life. And it's not always the big things. I have a really nice wind chime in my yard because of Second Life. A purchase I procrastinated until I had three in SL.

There are so many factors. The downward spiral you describe makes sense. Although I wonder just what percentage of SL residents are merchants.

Miso Susanowa said...

LL has had the opportunity, going past my own signup 3 years ago, to benefit from the free and sometimes detailed feedback, suggestions, help and efforts of their community/userbase.

They have ignored or backhanded any and all attempts from people who truly love to be here to aid and abet the growth and spread of VW tech and this community.

I simply cannot understand a business model that seeks to alienate its' users. Everything follows from that.

Iggy O said...

Miso, no one is alive who recalls how Henry Ford treated his customers in the Model-T days, so you will have to settle for talking to die-hard Apple customers. Ask them about what the firm did by dumbing down the and iMovie experiences. Ask about the gradual closing of the Mac hardware to any user upgrades (except for the highest-end machines).

Steve Jobs' school of management has long been "I'm right, this is insanely great, screw the Mac faithful." Then ask an Apple customer about the attempts to contact Apple from its Web site...and good luck with that.

If their OS was not so kick-butt great I'd have gone back to Windows long ago.

So the school of management you describe is nothing new.

@Elaine, I wonder if your fellow neo-pagans have tried events over at InWorldz? I met a lot of them in my little tour for Prim Perfect, and if you read Lalo Telling's blog, you'll see how lag-free the newest innovation there can be.

At the very least, we all need to diversify our virtual world experiences. Just in case.