LA Times Joins the SL Hater Parade

by Alphaville Herald on 14/07/07 at 4:46 pm

The Hate Just Keeps on Comin’!

It seems like just last month (well, ok, it was last month) that Forbes did its 180 and started hating on Second Life. Now the LA Times joins the hate parade with a story of its own. Herald Summary ™: Businesses came in, saw, and decided it was a bust, a waste of time, a veritable Bushian anti-insurgent surge of marketing failures. Now we have two things to say about this: First and foremost, WTF? The corporations who are now reportedly pulling out (American Apparel, Skywood Aloft, etc. etc.) and/or losing interest, came in, didn’t listen to one fucking thing residents said, did it their 20th century push media meatspace way, and now… and now they are all befuzzled that it didn’t work out and they think SL is a bust!!?? Well, good bye and good riddance. Maybe they are making more room for the corporations that are nimble enough to adjust to this very dynamic environment.

Oh and by the way, while I am quoted in the LA Times article, I don’t think it entirely got the drift of what I said OR my position, which is this: Some of the corporations that came in early were doing it for impact outside second life, but others are committed to learning how to operate in this new environment and are making adjustments (I sited the case of Nissan and provided a link to how they had retooled). My impression is that no one really knows how to proceed here, but we are all learning as we go along. Or, in any case, those that stay will learn. ‘cuz, yah know, quitters never prosper. (Someone told me that once.) –Uri

27 Responses to “LA Times Joins the SL Hater Parade”

  1. Apollo Case

    Jul 14th, 2007

    It’s not that surprising that some brands are not finding their original goals achieved within SL. The idea of going to large companies, getting them to set up a sim to sell virtual versions of their real life does not really seem that logical. From what I can see, large companies need to avoid the impulse to automatically set up a sim unless they have a definite need for it. (e.g. as a place for their employees to interact virtually.) In fact I would say they have to define their needs carefully, and ask themselves, “what do we want this sim for?”.

    Second Life seems to be a place for companies to interact. That interaction can be with a number of groups such as their employees, customers, shareholders etc. It represents a great opportunity to build relationships and brands, however it also means a re-think on how this can be achieved. That is why CxO’s should be asking themselves “what do we want, and how can it be achieved?”

    With regards to brand building within SL, outside companies should be looking for people that already have presences within SL, and look for ways to work with them to build their brands. Maybe the best brands will find a way to build a massive presence without ever spending a cent on tier fees or land purchases.

  2. Economic Mip

    Jul 14th, 2007

    While I understand this position completely, I must say that you are sounding like Hamlet here which is not a good thing. In the Forbes 180 article, one marketer actually claimed he would rather, “open a field office in Iraq” then enter SL. It seems that most businesses either have too much of an expectation, or too little of one. Personally I think “island sponsorships” (which is what Aloft is doing, instead of going away completely) have a great deal of promise, as do private orientation islands, provided that the private OIs provide some way off the starting island.

  3. Tenshi Vielle

    Jul 14th, 2007

    Well, they could just be performing the usual ass-backwards dance that Media outlets do… and trying to bring in MORE business by dogging on it.

    Um… do you have proof that these companies are pulling out, or is it just speculation? I know for sure Aloft left, but no idea about A-Apparel. Oh well. Last I knew, A-Apparel has been in SL less than a year. Whadda they want, a fucking party with confetti? Maybe with cake. I like cake.

  4. Nina A

    Jul 14th, 2007

    I really didn’t see that article as ‘hating’ SL. To me it was about how big businesses do not understanding the concept of SL and are seemingly unable to reach the residents. It seemed critical of them rather than SL.

  5. Lyxzen

    Jul 14th, 2007

    srs metaverse business is srs

  6. Kahni Poitier

    Jul 14th, 2007

    These companies come in here to “sell product”, and when they fail miserably at that, they get fed up, stomp their feet and call it a failure.

    Most SL residents do NOT want you to come in and pitch products at them. Many of us hate it.

    I’ve heard that 1-800 flowers delivers FREE flowers to people in world, I’m gonna go send out about 5 bouquets when I log in today. And then I’m going to drive around in my VERY CHEAP Pontiac Solstice. It’s well built, sexy, fun and CHEAP TO BUY. I probably won’t buy one in RL, but know what? The name Pontiac is in my inventory, and mind.

    These companies have done it right.

  7. Erebus

    Jul 14th, 2007

    Doing business in Second Life is like doing business in Beirut. There’s no physical value, reserves, nor potential to exploit. There’s no unified community, no stable social or economic networking, no identifiable and overarching order or social system that might translate someday into market-building potential. Whatever reputation Second Life had that might have been useful in funding penetration of virtual realities has been eroded by bad LL policies, legal issues, public scandals, and cesspool-like inworld behavior by residents.

    In Beirut, you sell weapons, food and medicines, apocalyptic religions, and vice. That’s the market. In Second Life you can’t even market those effectively. SL has yet to find its killer app. Maybe it’s virtual porn, politics, and drama. But considering the comments Larry Flynt has made about Second Life, I doubt that that particular business community wants anything to do with it.

    No surprise that SL’s hook on business and media has broken so soon. And no, it has little to do with faddism, more to do with the real world’s assessment (reasonable and unreasonable)of SL’s potential, and most to do with the world that Rosedale and his legions of consumer-dupes have built.

  8. Anonymous

    Jul 14th, 2007

    I just lol’d.

    The truth is, people use SL as an escape from reality, the last thing they want to see are companies pushing utter shit on them. hell half the companies in SL produce below-sub-par shit on SL and mark it up incredibly high, no one wants it. A friend of mine bought a mercedes from the mercedes sim for a huge amount, and the car barely worked. It’s a slap in the face, it’s basically saying “here, buy our shit, but it doesnt need to be good quality because we really dont care about you, go out and buy our real products.”

    it also just doesnt make sense, it also goes against the “user created content” scheme where the users are supposed to be in control.

    Corporations pulling out of SL will just make it like it was before they started flooding in. The bubble is on the brink of bursting and the sooner the better, this virtual real estate scam needs to end. People need to see it for what it is. A simple game, a service where you get to play a mix between barbie and legos. simple as that.

  9. SLJustice

    Jul 14th, 2007

  10. hehe

    Jul 14th, 2007


  11. whatever

    Jul 14th, 2007

    These corporations are already making a lot of money without second life, so this “quitters never prosper” I guess depends on the context and definition of prosperity. second life is not a serious platform for non-avatar-related business today. That’s a fact that continues to be proved by said corporations. The second life consuming “community” (a loathsome term, generally), for lack of a better term, is more interested in consuming products and services that can be specifically used WITHIN second life, not the real world. That’s the reality today. The only real appeal of brand marketing to users now is that users would appear to be the same socioeconomic class that would normally have the right level of disposable income (read: credit card debt) to buy real products of these businesses, at least in theory. But with 500,000 active users, who cares? It could make it there some day (years), but today is not the day. The hype did exist today though, that’s for sure. Remember who failed here: those corporations, the companies helping to form the corporate presences, AND second life itself. Not just the corporations.

    There will be the same second life apologists laughably posting here about those corporations not having a clue etc etc and all the while neglect that only a few hundred people in second life actually make money that could qualify as a “living”, and a few thousand that make some extra income, according to linden lab’s own statistics. But their excuse is that they’re “having fun” while doing it, yet they’re not capable of making the mental connection in their heads that corporations aren’t in the business of “having fun” first and making a profit second like them, and therefore it’s not exactly appropriate to expect a real world corporation to be so easily satisfied. They’re in the business of making REAL money, after all.

  12. Click Me

    Jul 15th, 2007

    Who leads the Hate Parade? The Second Life Herald.

    You were at it before any journalists heard of Second Life.

  13. Kryss Wanweird

    Jul 15th, 2007


    That LATimes piece is amusing.

    I picture the countless meetings these marketing people held over their “Second Life Project”, in order to sell the idea internally to these corporations, finally having to acknowledge the absolute failure of these adventures, and, of course, find someone (something) else to blame. Because there is no way genius marketers have bad ideas OR do poor research.

    The saga of age players already ruined SL users reputation bad. We already look like sick perverts. Now, we seem also poor and insignificant. Wow, this is just like third world!

  14. Mclusky

    Jul 15th, 2007

    Maybe the corporations realised that their target audience doesn’t consist of shut ins, gorean sex slaves, emo Furries and age-players.

  15. urizenus

    Jul 15th, 2007

    click me says:

    “Who leads the Hate Parade? The Second Life Herald. You were at it before any journalists heard of Second Life.”

    While it is true that we are in front of the media on a plethora of issues, I can assure you we are not SL haters. We *love* SL. It just happens to be tough love. The Lindens don’t always see this, raised as they were on a diet of granola, raw milk, chronic, and exclusively positive feedback. They just don’t know what true love is, poor dears.

  16. Click Me

    Jul 15th, 2007

    uri says:

      I can assure you we are not SL haters. We *love* SL. It just happens to be tough love.

    This from a man who harbors, aids and abets Prokofy Neva – the most venemous voice in SL. That’s like saying you are a responsible pit bull breeder, and it is only coincidence that your particularly vicious dogs happen to be purchased for dog fights. And then continuing irresponsibly breeding for aggression. That’s not tough love. And just because we read it doesn’t make it good — we watch car wrecks and police beatings too.

  17. Raz Welles

    Jul 15th, 2007

    All I’m worried about is what does this mean for SL? Are they still burning through venture capital or are they making enough profit to keep this thing running?

    Every turn of news like this makes it seem link SL itself will disappear.. I hope I’m misinformed.

  18. Myrrh Massiel

    Jul 15th, 2007

    “While it is true that we are in front of the media on a plethora of issues, I can assure you we are not SL haters. We *love* SL. It just happens to be tough love.”

    “There is a diabolical twist to Star Wars fandom, you see, that defies comprehension, and yet is the life-blood of all Star Wars fans. It is this:

    Star Wars fans hate Star Wars.

    If you run into somebody who tells you they thought the franchise was quite enjoyable, and they very-much liked the originals as well as the prequels, and even own everything on DVD, and a few of the books, these imposters are not Star Wars Fans.

    Maybe I’ll put it like this. To be a Star Wars fan, one must possess the ability to see a million different failures and downfalls, and then somehow assemble them into a greater picture of perfection. Every true Star Wars fan is a Luke Skywalker, looking at his twisted, evil father, and somehow seeing good.

    My earlier statement needs slight revision. We hate everything about Star Wars.

    But the idea of Star Wars…the idea we love.”

  19. Coincidental Avatar

    Jul 15th, 2007

    “how big businesses do not understanding the concept of SL and are seemingly unable to reach the residents.”

    Well, I think that big businesses misunderstood the concept of SL. Here is nothing for them from the business-to-consumer aspect.

    It will be seen if the same applies to the big American politics. Politics from other countries has made its entrance to SL, but most of them will abandon SL, I guess.

    “They just don’t know what true love is, poor dears.”

    Ass whipping of the Lindens does work, but they fiercely deny it. A couple of months ago fixing of bugs was a low priority and they openly loathed those who thought otherwise. Now 1.18 release is the most stable … for a long time.

    But I really don’t mind if Second Lie goes bankrupt and is followed by competitors’ Third Try or something. While watching animated sculptie-avatars dancing in front of a mirror, I thought that Third Try could be a better VR. I really can’t affiliate with the business morale of Linden Lab. And those who can, may find themselves facing some ugly business risks.

  20. shockwave yareach

    Jul 15th, 2007

    In the realm of the incredible, ordinary meatspace thinking cannot and will not make the grade. If you can build something in virtual space that furthers your business goals, that’s great. More power to you. But most of us in SL are not here to be your witless, dim-thinking thralls, like we are still sucking on the TV nipple. We are inventive and interactive. If your company can come up with a reason to visit your sim, you can have advertisements so everyone visiting knows who to look at later. Don’t think of it as sales or revenue – it is advertising to people with enough free time and free money that they can have 2K$ computers and spend 1/4 a day in a game, entertaining themselves. And don’t think that the sim has to be themed on what you are selling, either. Try to think outside the box, or better yet, hire people who never were inside the box to begin with and listen to them when they tell you what ideas they have.

    Here is a hint; building a mockup of your hotel and having nothing to do inside it is as dumb as building a hotel in RL and not having any rooms to rent. Why oh why would anyone care to visit either place?

  21. Prokofy Neva

    Jul 16th, 2007

    But Uri, LA was an early hater, don’t you remember that article by this same journalist months ago that quote you and me? I don’t think they’ve ever drunk the Kool-Aid.

  22. Jessica Qin

    Jul 18th, 2007

    So they built a hotel in a world where everyone teleports to their destination. And it didn’t work out?

    There is obviously something wrong with SL.

  23. Jax

    Jul 19th, 2007

    Set aside the issue of traditional corporations leaving Second Life and just think about the article from traditional media. It’s not the only one on this topic that has surfaced recently. In other words, the exodus of traditional corporations from SL makes SL bashing easy and a convenient way to make a publishing deadline with a piece that “might” grab some headlines. It’s just typical sensational journalism.

    As to some of the points brought up in this comment thread (most of which were excellent), I think Apollo Case makes a good suggestion about island sponsorship, and someone else suggested hiring “out-of-the-box” thinking people to do something with your product inside of SL. But I think that Kryss put it best:

    “Maybe the corporations realized that their target audience doesn’t consist of shut ins, gorean sex slaves, emo Furries and age-players — Kryss Wanweird”

    Not that I completely agree with the statement but it does bring up an excellent question for these corporations: Exactly what did they hope to achieve with a presence in SL? What was the point for their entrance into the game? How did they envision they would make money?

  24. Kryss Wanweird

    Jul 19th, 2007


    The quote is from Mclusky, not me.

  25. DaveOner

    Jul 19th, 2007

    I think it was a case of “believing their own hype”.

    “Sure! Anyone would want a one prim refrigerator from Sears in their virtual house!”

    “Of course people will want to buy photoshop copies of American Apparel’s generic-ass clothing! It was all drawn in downtown LA!”

    I think a couple companies have gotten the idea, though. That freebie Bumblebee from the Transformers movie floating around was a promotional item commissioned by the producers of the actual movie. There was some in-world spy/scavanger hunt-type game to promote Smokin Aces…too bad it was a shitty movie!

    Like them or not, they were creative promotions acheived through adapting to SL, not expecting SL to adapt to you.

    That’s probably the key that these guys missed. Too bad it’s SL’s fault, though.

  26. Ed B

    Jul 25th, 2007

    Wired magazine has just published an article entitled “How Madison Avenue Is Wasting Millions on a Deserted Second Life.”

    It’s posted at

    I would love to hear the reaction to this story. Are the Old Schoolers simply not getting it, or are we all getting taken for a ride?

    Two points in the article seem to stick:
    1) SL seems deserted; and

    2) This is because the software is outdated — and because the servers can only handle up to 70 avatars at a time.

    I am new to SL and very interested in the format and the possibilities. But these are serious limiations! I would love an expert’s response here.

  27. nic mitham

    Jul 26th, 2007

    My thoughts on the numerous comments about brands leaving Second Life.

    Firstly, remember that in many ways, Second Life (and other virtual worlds) is just another marketing channel, albeit with unique characteristics.

    When companies run marketing campaigns on other channels (such as TV, radio or print) and the campaign fails to deliver the desired level of response, one of two things happen:

    1. The creative concept is critised as not being appropriate or good enough. In other words it did not resonate enough with the target audience or deliver the right messages.

    2. Expectations were too high in the first place. Either because they were not correctly analysed or the channel has a different set of metrics.

    You rarely hear about the media channel being critised as being incorrect. Some brands have run campaigns in Second Life and the platform has been critised with very little commentary on the quality of the actual concept or the metrics being used to assess the success.

    The concept of media planning in Second Life (understanding the attributes of the channel audience – what motivates them – what they want – what the platform can deliver) has been overlooked to a very high degree to date in Second Life. This is the area that successful virtual world campaigns should focus on.

Leave a Reply