Saturday, June 21, 2014

Brave new world or foolhardy press release?

A couple of day ago Latif Khalifa (developer for Radegast, Singularity, Opensim and many more) and a man who is definitely a man in the know, posted to SL Universe:

"Linden Lab is working on a next generation virtual world. Most of Lab's development resources are already working on it. Smaller dev team headed by Oz Linden remains working on SL.
The new worlds will be closed sourced, and not backward compatible with content from SL"

His statement captures the essentials of it, but 2 days later Linden Lab has issued the statement:

"The next generation virtual world will go far beyond what is possible with Second Life, and we don't want to constrain our development by setting backward compatibility with Second Life as an absolute requirement from the start. That doesn’t mean you necessarily won’t be able to bring parts of your Second Life over, just that our priority in building the next generation platform is to create an incredible experience and enable stunningly high-quality creativity, rather than ensuring that everything could work seamlessly with everything created over Second Life’s 11 year history."

Well this is great news if the platform is to be released immediately and we can all start packing up our boxes ready to move.  If however we are a year or more away from it, haven't they just effectively killed SL, the very platform that they say will be around for many years to come?

Do they expect designers, scripters and builders to continue to develop their content at the same rate as before, knowing of an imminent move, where it is likely that the content will not be easy to port across to the new platform, if at all?   Do they expect the residents of Second Life to continue to invest in purchases of clothing, animations and scenery from the Market Place, being aware that it will only be of use on the SL platform that is going to suffer an unprecedented mass exodus of users?

I often have a really hard time understanding how such a large company fires so wide of the mark of basic standards of marketing.  Any where else on the planet, development of a product with such resounding repercussions would be totally behind closed doors, with a big announcement when it was ready to be released - and not before, for fear of frightening current investors.

To say that something so massive is going to happen at some point, without the new offer even being available to see is utterly astonishing because it so undermines the existing offer, to the point where anyone thinking of any significant investment in SL is bound to think twice. 

Are you going to buy a sim for $300 a month and start something new in Second Life that will definitely shrink and not grow, or are you going to hold out and see if they have fixed the pricing structure at long last in the new world and offer regions for a fraction of the cost?

The speculation about the announcement is that Linden Lab wanted to announce it to tie in with SL11B.  Couldn't they have waited until SL12B and say 'here it is', rather than leave everyone in the lurch, guessing about the future and the monies they have already invested?

A foolhardy and quite astonishing press release if you ask me. Go back to Business School.

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