by Pixeleen Mistral on 26/09/11 at 12:38 am
At AOL's DailyFinance site, Dawn Kawamoto reports that Linden Lab is working on a 2D game platform that seems almost completely unrelated to Second Life as we know it - except for a crowd-sourced approach to content creation.
Citing sources familiar with the plans, Kawamoto tells us
the new gaming platform (which some inside Linden Lab refer to as 2D) has already received the green light, and efforts are under way to develop the first version. The new product is being designed as a mobile gaming platform that would allow users to create or generate games on Apple's (AAPL) iPad or other iOS devices. More specifically, this browser-based design aims to allow users to create text adventure games, a type of genre that incorporates puzzle solving and exploration into a storyline
I can only hope Rod Humble is not totally bedazzled by the siren call of the iOS hordes and will spare a bit of time to address the issues of his current customers before giving in to his iPad ambitions.
Later in the article, Gartner analyst Brian Blau is quoted as saying "if Linden Lab gets into the user-generated games business -- turning Second Life players into game makers -- it would set the company apart" - something Blau has never seen before. Strangely enough, I think I have been watching Second Life players make games since I joined in 2005. Perhaps Gartner analysts don't get out much.
But how will this translate into revenue for the Lab?
Will it really be possible for Linden Lab to tax players' iPad games in light of the Lab's reputation for arbitrary action against the creator class? The Lab's less than stellar reputation for in-world governance may hurt them, and this points to the Lab's fundamental problem.
According to one of Ms. Kawamoto sources, "the company has seen a decline in the number of hobbyists and small businesses willing to pay a monthly subscription fee to rent server space to host their virtual world on the site" and Lewis Ward of IDC states, "the popularity of Second Life has been leveling off".
Has the Second Life 3D cyber paradise been reduced to a cash cow being milked to fund development of a line of 2D text games for phones and tablets? This might explain the curiously detached attitude Linden Lab exhibits toward its current customers - and does align with comments Rod Humble made at the SLCC conference this August where he spoke of a new product and plans for a press tour this fall before he fled the conference a few minutes after his keynote address.
Going forward, look for a series of carefully orchestrated "leaks" to the mainstream media followed by a round of Rod Humble press events designed to hype the Lab's new venture and the possibility that this will lead to a rising tide of disenchantment among the Second Life players if the Lab is unwilling or unable to address both technical and political problems in the current
cash cow platform.