With 15 years of activity behind it, Second Life, la first generation virtual reality platform developed by Californian company Linden Lab (which later developed also Sansar, designed to be fully compatible with VR technology right from the start), remains the largest commercial success of the virtual worlds industry. Yet find some echo of it in the mainstream media (which, however, in 2007 contributed to the“boom” of Second Life) it is now a rarer event than a lottery win.
Media have no interest in virtual worlds
The confirmation of the fact that the virtual worlds (and virtual reality technology generally speaking) still are not yet interesting for the mass market and therefore are not covered, if at all occasionally, by the mainstream media (do some reseach on Google Trends for confirmation, if you want) is due to the fact that the same difficulties are also recorded by Sansar and High Fidelity, the platform developed by the former “daddy” of Second Life, Philip Rosedale.
Rosedale if nothing else, has not lost his ability to attract investors, having obtained 35 million dollars from a group of investors including Galaxy Digital and Blockchain Capital among other things to adopt blockchain technology for virtual currencies, asset exchanges and digital identity in High Fidelity.
Ryan Schultz: is it the fault of the echo effect?
Of all this, namely of Second Life 15th anniversary, of the new funding obtained by High Fidelity, of the developments of Sansar, there is little or no talk on the mainstream media. Ryan Schultz, one of the most appreciated blogger interested in virtual worlds, tried to suggest the reason why.
According to Schultz it could depend on an “echo effect”: in essence the community of virtual world enthusiasts could continue to talk a lot about it, being substantially closed to any dialogue with the outside. This would explain why Second Life has never seen, in the last decade, more than 500-600 thousand active users worldwide, although every month, tens of thousands of new users continue to register.
Is one million users the maximum limit?
Could it be, assumes Schultz, that the worldwide audience interested in virtual worlds is just over one million active users, coincidentally, the maximum touched by Second Life during its first years of life, in full media hype? And in this case what development will the sector have, if after 15 years more than half of them continue to prefer Second Life to any other platform, despite now virtual worlds there are at least fifty (VR mode or not)?
Schultz’s hypotheses are the same that you have been reading for years on Mondivirtuali.it, where we tried to explain how this could be due to a mix of factors: an unhappy “naming”, the idea that what is virtual it’s not as desirable as what is real, the lack of interest from videogames fans, a tecnologhy still too little developed and/or expensive, the attitude of mass markets to reward applications and technology whose use is as simple as possible.
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