Linden Lab Learns From Frank Lucas

by Alphaville Herald on 24/01/09 at 6:51 pm

by Pixeleen Mistral, National Affairs desk

'The man I worked for had one of the biggest companies in New York City. He didn’t own his own company. White man owned it, so they owned him. Nobody owns me, though.' – Frank Lucas

Possibly taking a cue from American Gangster, M-is-for-mafia Linden’s plans for Second Life became clear this week, with the purchase and termination of the OnRez web-based shopping site, and Linden takeover of the XstreetSL site – now prominently featured on the Lab’s web page. It is unlikely that another web-based SL content storefront will be able to prosper with sort sort of competition, so the Lab has probably permanently consolidated the real-world SL content storefronts.  Frank Lucas would be proud.

From the Lab’s perspective, the logic of the move is obvious – controlling more of the distribution chain adds another place to tax residents' commerce with fees and service charges – boosting the Lab’s bottom line. Content creators that learn how to best game the new web storefront search will likely prosper as well – as long as they stay on the Linden’s good side.

Expect to see an SL-client embedded captive storefront – this would give the Lab even more control over one of the most natural places for inter-world content distribution, and act as a platform for supplying isolated Linden-run corporate meeting spaces with pixel clothes – while raising a further barrier to the growth of direct competitors such as the OpenSim worlds.

Beyond giving the Lab tight control over the sorts of pixelated objects offered for sale — will the “Orgy Sectional Sofa” I had my eye on be available much longer?  — a public relations bonus is new found control over a public forum where residents previously expressed displeasure with the Lab – and each other. The chilling effect of Linden-controlled forums is already evident, as residents scurry to find safe places to express their views without risking a game ban.

Dominic Cattano: How you feel about monopolies?
Frank Lucas: What, the game?

After last fall’s whopping 66% OpenSpace land tier price increases led to the destruction of thousands of resident spaces and widespread dissatisfaction with the Lab, radical changes in the content distribution landscape further reinforce the belief that the Lindens change the rules at will – not the sort of behavior most would want from a business partner.

None of this should come as a surprise. The Lab has shown a willingness to put a bullet through the head of resident enterprises many times in the past. Given the power imbalance between the players and the game gods, it is hard not to imagine a number of players eyeing the exits – if only to level the playing field.

Some of the more colorful and exotic communities in SL are likely to be leaving soon anyway, based on Philip Linden’s recent promise to merge the teen grid and the main grid – and the age verification and entrapment risks inherent in mixing a sexually-charged adult role play world with protected minors — and RL tabloid reporters. Wonderland, anyone?

Why would the Lab contemplate such a move? All the growth in immersive worlds is currently centered on the teen and ‘tween market, and a stagnant population growth curve in SL is not going to add to the Lab's bottom line or appeal as a takeover target.

Is Second Life’s ultimate fate to become a Disneyland Habbo Hotel?

Residents who do not find this prospect appealing may want consider taking Frank Lucas's protip to heart themselves.

"…He thought he owned it, but he just managed it. White man owned it, so they owned him. Nobody owns me though"

7 Responses to “Linden Lab Learns From Frank Lucas”

  1. lol

    Jan 24th, 2009

    Apparently you just saw American Gangster for the first time. Congratulations.

    Is it just me, or is “Pixeleen” like the only person out there that somehow managed to draw absurd parallels between Linden Lab and the mob? Don’t quit your day job, sweetie.

  2. dick burns

    Jan 24th, 2009

    farfour: nobody owns me.

    dickburns: what a coincidence, nobody owns me either.

    farfour: also,

    farfour: GRIP AND SIP

    dickburns: iknowrite?

  3. Dell Wilberg

    Jan 24th, 2009

    It remains to be seen what new policies will be put in place on SLX. In the new age of Virtual Worlds it should come as no surprise that the Creators (In this Case LL) should desire to own the primary third party portal for commerce.

    What concerns me more is possible censorship of content. On of the key advantages of SLX was it’s separation from LL.

    What happened to the possible promise of an OpenSource server from LL? There is great opportunity for a group of people who provide what LL is unwilling to provide as long as they can maintain or surpass the quality.

    I guess they looked at the model of Apple computer and the iPhone/App Store and said “Hey, we need to emulate what they have done and make a percentage of all third party content sales”.

    The biggest complaint you hear from iPhone App developers is that Apple approves products based on some arcane decision making process about what is in the best interest of Apple and it’s customers.

    It appears the free thinking “Wild West” days are soon to be over for the Second Life platform.

    On the positive side maybe they want to regulate markets to ensure a stable environment for commerce. Let’s wait and see how this is positioned by LL before we disparage their motives.

    Signed: Hopeful but with eyes wide open…

  4. Jessica Holyoke

    Jan 25th, 2009


    If the Lab wishes to stabilize commerce in SL, they don’t have to regulate it, or buy web based providers to integrate them into the client code. They just need to be sure that people can pay for goods and services. Meaning people have to be able to log in and have transactions executed. How many times have residents been warned that if SL is buggy, your items will not be delivered for up to 15 minutes, and sometimes aren’t even then, if you can get on and find the items you are looking for? And what’s the point of buying anything off of the web for SL if I can’t get into my account to use the item?

    The Lab should not be in the e-commerce business if they want to be the common carrier of the future. If that has changed and they want to be like Blizzard, then they need to be open about that.

    I tend to agree with the notion that the currency exchanges were why the two products were purchased and the Lab didn’t want to do anything that would migrate people to providers other than the LindeX.

  5. JustMe

    Jan 25th, 2009

    In world, businesses rent mall space from land owners or buy land for stores and LL gets the land tiers, regardless of the profitability of the store. With this purchase of the webbased SL item sales channel, LL will get a percentage of each and every sale that’s made.

    I can see ……… eventually …. that LL will eliminate all in world sales .. no more shops or malls, in other words … and shift the sales systems to their newly purchased webbased system, thus gaining a percentage of EVERY item sold by one avatar to another in SL. This would more than make up for lost tier L$ .

    Also, it would also allow LL to reduce the number of sims they need to support (less hardware needed at LL) without affecting the rest of SL … homes, resorts, roleplay areas, clubs, etc.

    In other words, inworld could become residential and entertainment while the webbased system would become the sales channel. Nice move, LL …. you’ve inserted yourself into the revenue stream to take a cut, eliminated a Lindex competitor, and simplified your systems as well.!

  6. LOL

    Jan 25th, 2009

    First off the staff of SLX\XstreetSL are a bunch of fucking Nazis. Tigress Stormwood Runs that site like a concentration camp, Apotheus and her are basicly the gastapo and SS all rolled into one. It seriously scares me to think they are now Lindens. They choose what business gets to survive this massive round up of all the web based retailers. Alot of retailers fled thier facist dictatorship for the promise of Freedom at Onrez, now like Linden Lab is acting just like the french, Round up all the retailers, and send them back to XstreetSL (the reich) so they can take thier $ and posessions.

    The SS storm-troopers (FurFag lindens) are also killing anyone that stands in thier way (onrez) offering a way to freedom from the clutches of the nazi regime. Onrez is so much better in so many ways then XstreetSL. It actually works, is VERY user friendy, has Vendors that are free and work even if the SL E-mail server does not. By far the best thing is Onrez is not greedy, they do not take a % of any sales. Lets face it, thats what this boild down to, Linden Lab is so hurting for $ at this point they want to steal your creations rip the gold fillings out of it’s merchants teeth to fuel thier virtual war machien.

    I know for a fact they will turn that once “FREE SPEACH FORUM” found on XstreetSL into a rally of book burning hitler youth. the XstreetSL staff will tell the residents what is OK to read, say, think, and post. Effectivly turning a group of once free thinking residents into nothing more then Hitler youth.

    If you are lucky enough to survive the Death camp and extermination of ONREZ then good luck rebuilding your web based business!

    Lastly, @ Tigress Stromwood


  7. Not Loki Ball

    Jan 30th, 2009

    I kinda agree with the colorful opinion LOL gave.. Although I wouldn’t say it as they did. I was treated to my own gas shower after having a conflict of opinions with a couple of the main staff there. Apotheus not being one of them. In his defense he was always pretty upfront and professional with me. The other two ran the place like a couple highschoolers who ran the popularity club or something. They definitely seemed to have a niche of people they allowed to say whatever they wanted to and slapped the wrist of others for the smallest of things. I could go on for hours but my opinion about it is this.. I think it can be a good idea for the merger to take place. LL can jump in there and take control and put some uniformity to the TOS and handling people who are out of line. I really think its in bad taste to continue the bans made on people from the forums that stopped their ability to sell on the site. Basically because there were a few people who had no affiliation with SL at the time, and were merely members. They banned me and now I will not be able to take part in this new service from Linden Labs. Let alone compete fairly in the future if they decide to integrate into in-world search, and other open grids. Hopefully LL re-evaluates making some of these folks lindens. Its apparent they can’t handle their own actions appropriately. Any staff member that divulges peoples personal comments made in private with the rest of the community, conducts themselves by insulting its members and just carpet banning people based on opinion and not TOS should never be considered to work at LL.

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