Second Life: The Hype is Gone

7 04 2010

Remember all the incredible hype around Second Life a couple of years ago?  It was way more than simple text messages. It was going to change everything about the social interaction on the net.  Our avatars would be able to wander around virtual worlds and do anything we could do in real life.  So, where is Second Life now?  I was curious, so I did a search on google.com/trends.

As you can see the hype peak was in early 2007 for Internet searches.  There were a series of peaks in 2008-2009 for news reference volume, but it has petered out from there.

Near its peak, an Australian band did a performance on on Second Life (News Item A) and many businesses built sites on Second Life.  I think the beginning of the end was when IBM published a Second Life dress code for employees.

Is Second Life Dead?

No, not really.  Here are some real time statistics.  The average daily maximum looks like around 60,000 people.  That is significant, but not big in comparison to the Internet as a whole.   My take is that a huge number of people tried Second Life, but the the churn rate was also huge.  It wasn’t the experience that readers of William Gibson’s  Neuromancer had envisioned.  The user interface to navigate the world was far clunkier.

There is nothing intrinsicly wrong with the idea of Second Life.  It just needs more work.  Maybe it can make some progress without all the hype that used to surround it.  If you want to think about what life in a virtual world could be, watch an episode or two of Caprica. There doesn’t seem to be much business being conducted there (on Caprica), but it sure is exciting.

For virtual worlds, this round is over and World of Warcraft won.  I am still looking for somebody to make this concept happen.

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8 responses

8 04 2010
virtualwork

There may be no hype, but some people make serious real life money in Second Life. I myself cash out between 4~5K USD a month. As with anything, if you are prepared to put the work in, then you probably will succeed.

8 04 2010
rbnolan

Agreed and you make a very good point. Maybe less hype is a good thing. The people who are active on a daily basis now are focused and committed.

8 04 2010
Ceejay Writer

World of Warcraft won? How is that relevant to Second Life?

Here – I have a pile of apples and oranges. You can just dump them all in the same basket though, since there’s no difference.

8 04 2010
rbnolan

Ceejay. My remark about WoW was totally tongue-in-cheek. WoW does have a huge community that interacts in a virtual world of sorts. I agree that it is nothing like Second Life. Just trying to add a little humor to the discussion.

8 04 2010
detrius

In that case, Farmville won (and Kyllie was right).

8 04 2010
rbnolan

Farmville may bury us all! On a more serious note: Remember the early Java hype? It was over-hyped initially and had a bit of a falling-off before it found its place and really started making headway. These days, the Java language is nearly ubiquitous, but the hype level is really low.

2 07 2010
Josh

I kinda replied to some of this thought in your follow up post.. But I thought I’d mention something I think about when I’m comparing the internet and Virtual Worlds: Engagement

I don’t know about you but on my blog I see visitors from every continent.. and few stay very long.. far from the hours spent in virtual environments.

3 07 2010
rbnolan

Excellent point. I think the length of “engagement” of SL users was what made enterprises so interested in SL in the first place. They just never figured out how to fit into that world and also accomplish their business goals.

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