SL in Steam: Rod Humble’s Hail Mary Pass?

by Pixeleen Mistral on 10/09/12 at 3:12 am

10-12% drop in player concurrency since February - daily signups swoon

There is no question Linden Lab CEO and Aston Villa fan Rod Humble knows his soccer. But Rod Humble seems to be taking a classic end-game page from the American football playbook - the Hail Mary pass - as he moves to market Second Life through a 3rd party -- Valve's Steam game portal/social network.

On the surface, this appears to be a clever move - in January Steam was reported to have 5 million concurrent players and 40 million accounts. The risk?

"Great marketing only makes a bad product fail faster.”
- David Ogilvy

Current Second Life players have greeted the Steam announcement with some skepticism, wondering  how SL's  wonky user interface, exorbitant land tier fees, dated graphics, questionable customer service, and lack of structure will win over Steam players accustomed to a more polished experience -- and gameplay similar to Valve's own HalfLife.

If the SL experience disappoints the Steam hordes, look for a wave of bad word-of-mouth reviews and an upsurge in "griefing" and meta-gaming as some Steam players are bored and give up - or try to impose a PvP narrative on Second Life. Could this be why Linden Lab is only now turning to Steam as a marketing tool?

But at this point Humble may have little choice other than to chuck the ball toward the endzone and hope for the best.

Second Life player concurrency has been in steady decline since February according to Tateru Nino's Second Life statistical charts (see charts below). Falling concurrency continues a trend the Herald pointed out in April 2011. With ongoing pricing pressure from other virtual worlds, and high profile group defections such as the SL Elf Clan who happily abandoned SL for Inworldz, the long term viability of Second Life is a very real question.

median conc by day800
median player concurrency has been dropping since February
Can Steam turn up the daily sign ups - and will they stay?

In light of dropping interest in the game, a move to broaden the product line and presumably make use of the SL server farm for other products would be understandable. But the "shared creative spaces"/"shared creativity tool" products outside Second Life Humble promised over a year ago at the Second Life Community Conference 2011 are nowhere to be seen, so the Lab remains dependent on it's Second Life cash cow to fund new product development.

Could the new product delay have played a part in the departure of Bob Komin, Linden Lab's CFO and COO? The remainder of this year will be telling, as the Lab grapples with management changes in the wake of Komin's departure, un-met promises of new non-SL products, and a do-or-die encounter with Steam.

35 Responses to “SL in Steam: Rod Humble’s Hail Mary Pass?”

  1. bubblesort

    Sep 10th, 2012

    hmmm… I think the port to steam might be behind the Lab’s recent gutting of the JIRA. They know it won’t go well and they don’t want to deal with an influx of steam players telling them when it’s broken so they just made it so the steam players can’t complain by killing the JIRA. If you can’t see the problem it doesn’t exist… or at least that’s what Ostrich Linden told me once.

    This is what I’m talking about with the JIRA:

  2. LOL

    Sep 10th, 2012

    guess the move to steam will end the debate “SL is a Videogame”

  3. hobo kelly

    Sep 10th, 2012

    Right now they have the SL server software so screwed up its not funny. 20x the data flow due to a bug that they cannot eliminate by rollback because they will not let the pathfinding thing roll back. It must be tied directly to this new Steam thing somehow. People are losing their internet due to SL blowing their data byte transfer limits for the month out the door in a few days. Sims like Waterhead are going down and being left down for 2 or 3 days straight with nobody restarting them. Sims that don’t rez in until you cross into them. A couple of stories back here at the Hearald I posted that link to the Jira where people were screaming DONT LOG ONTO SECOND LIFE ITS KILLING OUR INTERNETS and now LL shuts down the Jira system because it all looks so bad and so many people are abandoning.

    I remember the good old days of Second Life when it was ROCKING and rolling with Banking systems, Casinos, weapons that could orbit unwanted faces up beyond 123456789^10m, lots of power in a sim where you could have almost 50 people in a sim and still have hundreds of slot machines and avatar attachments, and pony ‘sploders and fish tanks all going at once and there was still power left over. The sims felt a lot more real with that much power in a sim. Then they took away all that power and used it for junk like mono and sculpties and voice and mesh and now a sim starts to buckle and lag with 4 or 5 people in it. And sim crossings are worse than ever.

    In the past it was said on this forum many times that it would be revitalizing to SL to bring back Griefing in a big way. To return to a world of the unexpected instead of one of buttoned down srs bsns. A world where you could walk up to a land baron and toss a PN bomb onto their e-lawn and then make a video of the land owner having a Tizzy fit and post it to youtube. Thats what some people have said in the past. Having fun at other’s expense. It makes sense. I think this is what is going to happen with STEAM. With LL, it HAS to be at someone else’s expense.

    I wonder if some of the well known groups already in Second Life are setting up recruiting operations to bring these new Gamer Griefers in under their wing instead of some day being overrun by them if they are left to form new much bigger groups on their own. Woodbury: Now is the time! Patriotic Nigras: time to rise again! W-hat: what? I see what Pixeleen is saying. The nacent and placid and nearly deserted and dying Second Life is going to be totally transformed into a Griefer War Zone where it will be legal and legit to blow away those that offend you. Like having the red Combat heart turned on in each and every sim… I think I’m getting the picture… yes, its coming through now… there they are advancing, scuttling, clicking and clacking, its the Maritime Tactile Weavels and Nibbler and they are hammering in STEAM Bans so fast that a Critical Mass of BANS develops in their estate ban list and suddenly… poof… the whole of the Eastern Blake Sea goes up in a huge heavy water explosion that throws boats and splinters of boats and seamen all the way to Honahlee… Hell yes :)

    Here is a video of what they want SL to be after integration into STEAM and what the players coming FROM steam into SL are going to be like…

  4. [...] – Today, 10:33 AM Rescoop [...]

  5. bubblesort

    Sep 10th, 2012

    Porting to steam opens up huge new opportunities for piracy, just because Steam users pirate a lot more than SL users, IMHO, and steam users will have more places to rip content to and from than many SL users. I wonder if LL is doing this to get more users to pirate stuff from Gary’s Mod into SL. I mean, LL will deny this but it seems like this is a great way to encourage piracy of mesh objects from other Steam games into SL in order to get more quality content in SL. I wonder how long it will take Steam to kick LL out once the rippers have decent tools and ripping becomes more popular. On the other end of things, I wonder how many SL content creators are going to have to deal with their stuff getting stolen and taken over to Gary’s Mod.

  6. Senban Babii

    Sep 10th, 2012

    /me comes out retirement for a minute

    “In light of dropping interest in the game”

    I can only speak for myself but what killed my interest in SL was nothing more than the fact that the JLU and their ilk made it impossible to engage with it without worrying that people were constantly trying to crack my meatspace privacy. I had no problem with pvp and in fact as Hobo Kelly alludes, a form of pvp in effect drives the social experience of this kind of game. We know this is true because history shows it to be true, right back to TSO and beyond. SL is social drama. People form social groups, you get feuds, it’s like a giant soap opera and everyone wants to tune in to this week’s episode. They know it’s crazy, they know it’s badly written, badly acted and over the top (“Days Of Our Second Lives” anyone?) but it’s all about enjoying the drama regardless. Narrative is everything.

    But that social drama fails and fails hard the instant that groups like the JLU take that drama beyond the walls of the gamespace and start trying to get people kicked off university courses or contacting employers. At that point the benefits of playing becoming critically outweighed by the potential risk of playing. Yes it’s true, the JLU aren’t the only ones who made that mistake but they continued to act that way even when the wider game population decried their behaviours. Well hey, well done guys! You won! The people who kept SL alive and interesting all left and you can now sit back and bask in the glory as the whole thing dies.

    Personally I’ve lost track of how long it’s been since I logged into SL (or any virtual world for that matter) but it’s about ten months or so and I’ve no intention of coming back. It might even be longer, I’ve honestly lost count. I only keep a casual eye on the Herald out of nostalgia.

    The thing is, no one cares about poor sim operation or low quality stuff *if* the actual gameplay experience is good; if the social drama is strong. Back when I started (2007) prim hair was considered awesome and there was bling everywhere with everyone rubberbanding round the place and your shoes attaching to your bum when you teleported and no one really cared because the social narrative was strong. Over time, everything became about removing the drama and narrative and replacing it with technical “improvements” instead of focusing on what made SL such a strong experience in the first place (clue: it wasn’t about building and creating content). You only have to look at the descriptions of SL as it was written about in all those early books and compare it to how it ended up to see what was lost.

    Oh well, enjoy your wasteland!

    /me grins, swishes her tail and……poof!

  7. EndOfStory

    Sep 10th, 2012

    like I said before


  8. Edna

    Sep 10th, 2012

    In my opinion, it was the “improvements” that killed Second Life. In 2006 -2007 the stock viewer worked fine. I could run SL well with the computer I had back then. Now, on a computer whose specs didn’t even exist then, SL runs like shite. They should have left well enough alone. The technical experience now stinks. Who wants to put up with it.

    Bring back the old days. First land was a great concept. When they killed that off, things began to spiral down. I used to be able to go to a first land area, cage the noobs building there and get them to sell me their first land for pennies on the dollar. I’d buy up a 1/4 sim or more of first land and flip it. Those were the days.

    LLs best course of action at this point is to erase the whole SL mess and start a budget web hosting business with their servers.

  9. Axel Oakleaf

    Sep 10th, 2012

    Where is my hat?

  10. Tux

    Sep 11th, 2012

    Reading all this brings backs so many memories. Ah those were the days.

    But steam? It’s no problem, they’ll come, think it is rubbish, and uninstall it. For many will find the game awful.

    A few good creators remain clutching to their last hopes. The rest is full of people fapping to each other whilst allowing their bodies to become obese and useless. Even the minority spandex clad superheroes are no where to be seen. Occasionally Prok rears her ugly head, to fire off some unread AR’s. But even those no longer seem to gain any traction.

    LL has given up. The straggling Lindens seem to have very little knowledge of what is going on. With all this fail, how is a griefer supposed to have fun? No banhammers, not even a little suspension. Unless a busy sim can be found, there is just no fun anymore.

    I would love for there to be another game in which I could have as much enjoyment as I have had playing SL. But I don’t think it will ever happen. It failed, people learn from that.

    I thank LL for all those irreplaceable memories. To this day they still have the ability to make me laugh. Exporting Justice Island and importing it into every sandbox on the grid. Seeing the leagues personal images and writings. Hearing all those people screaming at their computer screens and into their microphones. Doing so many wonderful things to unsuspecting people. So many happy times.

    But this is beginning to sound like a eulogy, which is not yet appropriate. I hope it improves, so new people get to experience a little of the things we have. But I doubt they will. Such a shame.

    If I went back, I wouldn’t change a single thing!

  11. Axel Oakleaf

    Sep 11th, 2012

    @ Edna; This.

    LL should bring back what was great about sl and stuff. I remember sl from 2008 and it was a lot better than today. Nowadays it’s too laggy with the pathfinding stuff that LL released,and now they remade the Pjira so that issues don’t get noticed. It seems LL has killed the golden egg.

  12. Wooden Berries

    Sep 11th, 2012

  13. Dontspill McGinnis

    Sep 14th, 2012

    Well, due to the fact that people are commenting more on the shocking revelation that politicians might actually massage the truth occasionally, One must draw the conclusion that no one actually gives a shit about Second life any more.

    I even suspect that EndOfStory might actually be forced into agreement with me on this one.. that’s gotta hurt! PMSL

  14. hobo kelly

    Sep 15th, 2012

    So like, I was out rummaging around last night. Rummaging around after midnight in Second Life. After midnight in the post-Linden Second Life I mean. Now that Second Life has been sold to Valve the Lindens are pretty much out of it, but thats just how they wanted it anyway. And let me tell you… As the Lindens recede from the various areas known as second life, as the Lindens recede, the Griffers are filling in and griffing everywhere. Griffing with griff and grigor. I mean griefing with vim and vigor. And on everyone’s mind: Steam…

    The Krazy Kat Lady flying Trike was just sitting there looking at me. It makes you antsy when it just sits there looking at you like that. It has a headlight in front of its little cat nose that shines brightly when you need it. So bright that it washes the Cat Lady face out somewhat. But the light was not on now, and all I could see was that face… that face… “Sit on my face” it called out to me. “Come on…”. So I did. I decided to take her out for a spin…

    I had heard about this Steam place. It seemed a little weird. I mean, it seems a little weird. It has something to do with eating half of a ham sandwich with an olive on it like some kind of magic cocktail snack that you would snack on while you drink your magic cocktail drink or something. But in the world of Steam, and I am not sure about this yet, but this magical Ham sandwich is very much sought after because if you actually get one and eat it, something happens. Like you get magic game powers or something. See, I’m still not too clear on all this Steam yet. But there are sandwiches involved.

    As a matter of fact, these sandwiches are SO important in Steam that there is a new sim in Second Life now which is called SANDVICH. Look it up on your map inworld and then GO THERE for a visit. This SANDVICH is the new sim where a lot of these new Steamers will sail through as they squirt into Second Life when the powers that be open the Valve.

    And lawdy lawdy, it was sure busy in Sandvich last night (friday night into saturday morn). There must have been over 9000 ounces of people in that island sim. It was SO busy in there that the Krazy Kat Lady trike needed a few seconds to get its bearings and start flying properly after we rezzed in. “RRRRrrrreeeaaaaaaooooooowwww” went the Krazy Kat Lady trike as we swooped into SANDVICH. I barely pulled her back and got control before we smashed into the Monorail system that runs all around SANDVICH.

    You remember that episode of The Outer Limits where some researcher was growing these sand creatures inside of a sandy aquarium and the creatures were getting smarter and suddenly they realized that they were being observed by some larger greater being and these micro little sand creatures erected this giant sculpture in honor of its percieved god? I was lowering down in altitude in the Krazy Kat Lady trike and I noticed a big band of avatars hanging out in the central plaza area near where there seemed to be a giant statue erected in deference to their god? Or somebody. It was awesome. The avatars seemed agitated…

    As I explored SANDVICH I noticed the monorail that circles the whole area and it brought back memories of Disneyland where in my younger days I would sneek into the park through this tunnel that a train that runs the perimeter of the park passes through and treats its riders to giant Dinosaurs in a dinosaur diarama. There was a little chink in the fence…

    Sandvich has buildings and open fields and meeting places and large Iconoclastic objects that probably mean things, special things to those Steamers, similar to how giant floating land baron heads mean special things to Second Lifers. Just then the crowd was getting antsy. I knew this probably wasn’t a good morning to get the birdseye lowdown on the whole operation. I wanted to walk around on the ground and look at stuff. Just then some of the crowd took off. It was after midnight… After midnight and things were happening… Where would the road crew be going at this hour? It was time for me to leave SANDVICH. But I will come back some day. If its still there…

    “RRRREEEeeeeeooooowwwww” the Krazy Kat Lady bike sang out… We landed at the K-Park rez area just outside Waterhead. Waterhead had about 5 people there there at 12:30am and they were just standing there looking at each other. One guy had a cube stuck on his head. Seascale bridge ahead… Maryport… Ravenglass… whoa there was a crew in Ravenglass at 12:30am… what were they doing? They were doing GOOD no doubt. Probably tending to all the things Good Avatars do in Ravenglass at 12:30am… You last about 30 seconds in Ravenglass because the road cuts across just the top of it and the next thing you know, your in Furnuts… I mean your in Furness, and Ravenglass and its early birds are receeding in my rearview mirror… now the long grind to the Ross Infohub…

    Ross was just sitting there. Two people in the infohub and they were trying to figure out how to exchange Drakmas for Lindens or something like that. Maybe Lindens for Drakmas. Maybe Valve Coins for Lindens! Yeah thats it. Watering their camels too. Midnight at the Oasis… nothing happening so on to… Refugio…

    Refugio is there at the base of the white snowy mountains and the Krazy Kat Lady trike was feeling the strain of the upwards slope of the land all of a sudden. I was about ready to pull off of the freeway and to find a 7-11 store so that I could buy a Frisky’s Salmon Dinner for her to pep her back up a little bit and get her running on all cylinders but suddenly something caught my eye… a crew in Refugio too? No wait, was that the same crew? Whaaa? How could they have gotten all the way from… faster than… no way…

    Way… it was… things were moving fast. They were moving fast… I thought about trying to cam in while riding down the road but decided to just get the hell out of there before something bad happened. It was just widdle old hobo me and my Krazy Kat Lady trike against the whole great big vastness of Second Life at 1am. The road felt better to me when I was moving. Moving real fast… Its still a long haul all the way back to Waterhead…

    And just as I am safely through the Furnuts sim, I mean the Furness sim, and am entering Ravenglass getting ready to top over and down to the Seascale Bridge, there they were again… the crew…. somehow they beat me back to Ravenglass from Refugio… I kicked the KKL trike into flying mode and turned right, right in the middle of the bridge and the KKL trike responded and into the air we went and headed towards the old Woodbury encampment…

    I wish I had more to report because this can be a magical area in that little waterway behind that big hill thing or whatever it is that hides that cove. The crew were working fast and their avatars winked out before I got there. Damn. I cannot even wait around and investigate either because there is someone else here moving around investigating things on the ground. Maybe they got a little too close for comfort… oh well… everybody needs some good rest after a nights work like that….

    Blockhead was still at Waterhead stumbling into things. Some invisible avatar hanging in the air got banged into as the Krazy Kat Lady trike took the loop around the totem pole. Get out of the way road hog. Blammo. Krazy Kat Lady trike don’t stop for any BODY. Luckily they had one of those rubber hoses with the water spigot on it back at K-park because the KKL trike was STEAMing a little bit from under the hood…

  15. Paul

    Sep 15th, 2012

    hey Tux welcome back!

    “A few good creators remain clutching to their last hopes. The rest is full of people fapping to each other whilst allowing their bodies to become obese and useless. Even the minority spandex clad superheroes are no where to be seen. Occasionally Prok rears her ugly head, to fire off some unread AR’s. But even those no longer seem to gain any traction.”

    nice summary! but don’t forget to add something like:

    “Even most of the old griefers are gone…some wandering off to find other places to annoy people in their eternal and desperate quest for a sense of control over their lives, others have been banned, some others have even been busted by the law and left to explain to their children why daddy’s computer got taken away.”

    That might complete the picture, eh?

  16. EndOfStory

    Sep 15th, 2012

    Prok on Sandvich! Oh no you did-ent!
    To be honest, I saw here there, in and out in a blink of the eye.
    Tuxwinkier was there too, along with Spillage and some new Mud Kipz sock puppet idiot. The ALT brigade is alive and well. Must be mies – O – million on the rampage; or is that ragepage? You decide..

    Sandvich, here today – gone tomorrow!

    Then what?

  17. EndOfStory

    Sep 15th, 2012

    hobo, WOW!
    Cool story Bro! I jest..

    That’s a lot of words coming form a mental midget like you.
    Serious story Bro!

  18. EndOfStory

    Sep 15th, 2012

    PNbitch is another funny alt puppet

  19. Tux

    Sep 15th, 2012

    ‘nice summary! but don’t forget to add something like:’
    Stop, it was written correctly. Your addition fails. All the old guys are there and are still smiling. Posting your fantasies here makes them no more real. They are still in your head.

    ‘To be honest, I saw here there, in and out in a blink of the eye.’
    You mean her, right?
    But I am glad to see your post conflicts with Paul’s imaginary truths!

    For everyone else: Sandvich is the place to be, even the Lindens think so!

  20. Paul

    Sep 15th, 2012

    lmao! just make sure you define ‘plausible deniability’ to the kids, and explain how on the internet, if you deny something enough times, you might even begin to believe the lie yourself.

  21. Dontspill McGinnis

    Sep 16th, 2012

    @ EndOfStory

    What? Tux and I were in the same place at the same time?
    But you said that I was a Tux alt!

    Damn, we must be getting tricksy!

  22. Axel Oakleaf

    Sep 17th, 2012

    Second Life is shit. They can ban you at anytime. This morning i got MAC banned. Fuck you Linden Lab!

  23. EndOfStory

    Sep 17th, 2012

    Spillage, you are a complete dumb ass. Logging in on multiple accts concurrently is SO that newly created Tux acct just stands there, like so many of the mies-O-million creations..

    muziekfreak 1980 much?

  24. Dontspill McGinnis

    Sep 17th, 2012

    @ EndOfStory

    You crack me up. You couldn’t make your kind of stupid up!
    Excellent entertainment value!
    :o )

  25. EndOfStory

    Sep 17th, 2012

    Spillage, I think you have it all backwards!

    Here’s your tribute vid:

    Don’t Cry Bro!
    Spillaging is just a fact of life..

  26. Dontspill McGinnis

    Sep 21st, 2012

    Aww, thank you.
    It’s nice that you think of me so much.

  27. Gia May

    Sep 23rd, 2012

    Never in my seven years in SL have I seen the Ahern Welcome Area with less than ten avatars in it. Even last month it was bustling with voice, quasi-griefers, avatar artists, poseurs, and the AFK. Today, for hours now, it’s been me and two or four others.

    Sic transit gloria secundi mundus.

  28. EndOfStory

    Sep 24th, 2012

    Sandvich & Tizzers, here yesterday – gone today!

  29. EndOfStory

    Sep 25th, 2012

    Gia you need to go to Violet

  30. hobo kelly

    Sep 25th, 2012

    Well mischief makers, that evil land baron Prokofy Neva got Tizzer’s new world called SANDVICH closed down and everybody banned. Again. Sorry Tiz. All I can do is offer up a little happy cartoon that shows that even though the darkness may knock you down, there will be another sunny day for the b-tards and pals coming around again some day. Come on along with me Mischief Makers and watch this colorful rendition:

  31. Tizzers

    Sep 28th, 2012

    For better or for worse, inviting 50 million Steam gamers will inevitably incite a cultural shift on the grid. These younger TF2/Garry’s Mod players aren’t exactly the cuddling-on-poseballs demographic.

    Right now SL is like a bunch of old retirees sitting around at their local Denny’s restaurant playing cards and knitting.

    When the Steam floodgates open, it’s going to be like every teenager in the city kicking down the front door, putting up a disco ball, and turning it into a crazy party while the old people scream for the manager… who invited all of the teenagers there in the first place.

    Have fun with that Rodvik.

  32. Jaden Of Steam Forums

    Mar 25th, 2013

    LOL FAIL nothing more to say here Linden Lab has failed and they will keep failing until they.

    1. Improve Account Security.

    2. Provide Residents with Inventry BackUp incase of asset failure instead of we cant help you.

    Who wants to spend money in a game with no backup and they can loose thousands of RL dollars.

    3. Prevent griefers from making constant griefer accounts heck no RL name, or email verification.

    4. Protect IP rights.

    5. Remove Spyware from the grid, and people using gridwide ban networks.

    6. Ban sim owners who knowingly allow others to break the TOS just like woodbury LL favors some people who allow others to bot constantly mostly RP sims, and btw I would not use the Unity Core Combat System, because the script has IP loggers, and ChatLoggers/Spyware in the hud basically relays back location of where you are in SL as long as scripts are enabled without consent. ( NoR uses this meter and supports the CopyBot too.)

    That is all that needs to be said.

  33. Edna

    Mar 29th, 2013

    Mr. Humble is the Anti Christ God warned us about when he typed up the Bible.

  34. withheld

    Mar 30th, 2013

    And i’m sorry for bashing Atheron Alter,he was only doing his job.

  35. Dontspill McGinnis

    Mar 30th, 2013

    That’s a lot to say for someone with “nothing more to say here”.

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