Korea Fails Second Life – Lab To Offer English Classes

by Alphaville Herald on 14/11/09 at 11:51 am

Lab curtails Korean language support, closes Korean operations

by Pixeleen Mistral, International Affairs desk

The Korea Herald reports that Linden Lab has abandoned its Korean localized web site and viewer after allowing its contract with Barunson Games Corp. to lapse. Barunson Games had been contracted to operate Second Life's Korean service in October 2007, but apparently found selling life in the metaverse difficult.

A gloomy picture is painted by Korea Herald writer Choi He-suk, who points out the limited appeal of open environments populated with anonymous strangers and lag, saying, "Second Life appears to have failed to adapt to the characteristics of the local market. According to industry officials, Korean users tend to prefer moreclosed environments where they can interact with people they alreadyknow or relatively small groups of people, and are used to fast-pacedonline games."

We can certainly understand the desire for minimal lag and less than glacial rez times when grid hopping, but these problems seem unlikely to improve anytime soon.

On a happier note, now that the Lab has redirected the Korean Second Life web site http://kr.secondlife.com/ to the english language site, think of all the fun our friends in Korea will have practicing their english skills. Let us hope the appeal of this sort of informal foreign language class does not wane over time.

With the Lindens working to increase profitability by any means necessary, readers may wonder if the Lab will cut it's losses in other marginal markets in preparation for some sort of investor cashout event.

More worrying is the possibility that Korea's failure to appreciate the charms of the Second Life walled garden of cyber delights is a warning that Second Life cannot compete in what is believed to be one of the most wired and game/MMO crazed countries on the planet. Could this be why Philip Linden jumped ship?

4 Responses to “Korea Fails Second Life – Lab To Offer English Classes”

  1. Anonymous

    Nov 14th, 2009

    “English” is capitalized.

  2. Faye Serendipity

    Nov 14th, 2009

    I don’t know, I would jump ship too. Look at Korea’s relationship with Blizzard Entertainment. They have to franchise their service in order to even operate in Korea and meet up with crazy censorship demands (Bones on undead are too graphic were removed for example, even though it’s a game of WAR). There’s a lot of money involved in providing service there but it also costs them money – they’ve considered jumping ship quite a bit.

    Korea’s political stance in the world is anything but open. You find the Korean youth mostly playing MMO’s in public internet cafe’s. Their machines/accounts are on timers. IF you only had a short time every day to use an online service wouldn’t you want one that gives you fast paced satisfaction/fun? Second Life is not an MMO game, more so of an creative/social output the user must define all aspects from the moment they wander onto the grid. Koreans enjoy MMOs for the explicit motive of instant gratification through leveling time lines, and missions that require controlled social interaction with the help of friends, hence their popularity.

  3. JustMe

    Nov 15th, 2009

    Different strokes for different folks. If the majority of Korea users like fast paced shootemups, so be it. SL can’t be all things to all people. Although, it does seem to have a broad appeal to people in many countries, as far as I can tell .. US, Canada, Brazil, Germany, England, Australia, Holland, Spain, Austria, Italy, and so on. Could it be more of a socialization thing? and an expectation of what SL is, compared to actual “gaming” ?

    Even in the US, most younger males are into gaming .. thus the preponderance of US females in SL .. they generally don’t “game” but look for social experiences and interaction. I bet if you sit in a busy mall and check profiles of people going by, the majority will be US females. And, yeah yeah, I “know” that some females are actually male, but I’m guessing those out shopping aren’t. The pretend females are mostly in sexual related areas

  4. Snarp

    Nov 26th, 2009

    Faye Serendipity – I’m pretty sure your entire comment confuses South Korea with China. At the very least, the Warcraft situation you’re describing is the Chinese one, not the Korean one. The subscription model is different there, but I think that’s the extent of the change. (You can stick “언데드 월드 오브 워크래프트” into Google image search if you want to see screenshots of the undead in Korean WoW – they’re the same as in the US.) The net cafe stuff you’re talking about also sounds more like China to me.

    I can’t say anything to your suggestion that South Koreans are too addicted to “instant gratification” to properly appreciate Second Life, except that in light of your apparent premise – ie, that South Korea is China – it seems dubious.

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