Second Life

Decoding Linden Lab 2: Second Life Stream

This morning I proposed that you could read the tea leaves of Linden Lab’s announcement of a price increase for the education and non-profit community and, if you tried really hard, see the outlines of a master plan in which Linden Lab would eventually split into multiple companies:

- Linden Lab, a software services company focused primarily on making money from virtual currency, markets, identity systems, server rental and infrastructure and other systems
- Second Life, a virtual world which makes money from fees earned from its users, and which “buys” services from Linden Lab to support that world
- The Linden Foundation, an open source initiative building and maintaining virtual world viewers and server code.

Under this plan, Linden Lab could provide “grid services” to third-parties, whether educational, non-profit, military or entertainment. The ability to move between these grids (one of which would be Second Life) would allow the metaverse to scale while pushing management of individual “sub grids” to, well, to anyone who wanted to run one (including those who simply use the open source Linden Foundation code without subscribing to the Linden Lab services.

But my hypothetical strategy isn’t complete without adding in the probability of server-side rendering, which would be an additional “product” that could live as a service under Linden Lab, and a revenue generator for Second Life.

I imagine a blog post, probably before Christmas, and it goes something like the following (the “special server class” idea is a total wild card, I’m more confident about the beginning of the act of imagination which follows):

Since my return as CEO of Linden Lab, I’ve been focused on our core strategy: to make Second Life fast, easy and fun. Today I’m pleased to announce that we have made significant progress in making this happen and will shortly be launching a new product: Second Life Stream (SLS).

For the new user downloading a client, learning how to navigate, and accessing great content can all be barriers to an experience that is fast, easy and fun. But what if they could enter Second Life without needing to download anything? What if we could bring them directly to great content and events? What if we had the option of making the sign-up process as easy as entering a URL in your browser?

Second Life Stream
SLS does exactly that. Using server-side rendering, users will now be able to access Second Life without a download and will be able to access all the great content that Second Life has to offer immediately – and if they like the experience, they can continue to access the world in that way, or they can download a client and participate like that.

Here’s how it works:

- Second Life Stream will provide free access to Second Life without a download. You will be able to access the Grid, participate in events, go shopping – do all the things that makes Second Life such a vibrant place, but without a cumbersome download or orientation process.
- After a certain numbers of hours of access, users will have a choice: to pay-as-they-go (we will charge approximately $0.25 per hour of access) via SLS, or to download the Second Life client and continue to access the world for free.

While we’re charging for SLS acceess after a free period, we’re doing this for more reasons than simply the cost of server-side rendering. SLS allows us, because content is rendered on the server, to allow a much higher avatar count on a sim (we are estimating in the hundreds).

For these reasons, we’re pleased to announce that in addition to SLS, we’re offering a new server product: SLSS.

Second Life Stream Servers
Let’s say you hold an event once a month in Second Life. Or maybe you’re a school and only hold classes once a week. You may not want to pay for the full capabilities of a Second Life sim. Second Life Stream Servers will provide an option.

Here’s how it works:

- You will be able to rent a sim at 50% of the price of a normal, full-prim sim.
- Access to that sim will be limited to a list of 10 people so that you’re able to create content as usual.
- Your customers, students or co-workers will only be able to access the sim using SLS. Because we will be charging for their access time on a per hour basis, you get the best of both worlds: your sim rental is drastically reduced, and cost is on-demand (users are charged for the number of hours of access).

To make this even more interesting, Linden Lab will provide you with a 10% commission for all paid access to your sim using SLS.

Say you hold a music event once a month. You pay half tier on your island using SLSS. You set up a store or a concert venue. On the day of the event, you are able to host close to 500 avatars because server-side rendering allows us to significantly increase the number of avatars present on a sim.

Those avatars are paying a per hour fee to access Second Life using SLS. You will receive a 10% commission on that access time – you will no longer need to rely on “tips” to support an in-world concert, because you’ll have a revenue stream from Linden Lab itself.

SLS Cards
With the lower age limit in Second Life, we realize that access to the Grid may be difficult for younger users who do not have credit cards. For that reason, we’re pleased to announce that SLS “game cards” will be launched globally this weekend. You will be able to buy access cards at leading retailers including Best Buy and Wal*Mart.

These access cards are also available to non-profit institutions and educators at a bulk discount, or access codes can be provided to enterprise who will be billed quarterly on a “pay-as-you go” basis (don’t worry, we can set user-level caps for usage).

Our new VP of Marketing has been working hard on preparing an international campaign to launch SLS and the new access cards, which we’re sure will fundamentally change the ease and fun which is Second Life and will give new access options for users, new content options for creators, and new revenue streams for event organizers and community managers.

SLS does not change the option to participate in the Second Life experience in all the ways you’re used to, whether using the main viewer or TPV, and island rentals are still available for those who want a full-time and rich experience of the world. SLS, we hope, will expand the audience for Second Life by living up to our commitment to make it fast, easy and fun, while generating an entirely new way to make money from the stunning work you continue to create.

(Um, OK, that last bit probably won’t show up in the final post).


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