Linden Lab has done a remarkable job transforming Second Life into a PR machine. It owns the spotlight in the booming virtual world space, largely because of partnerships with major international companies to open Second Life shops.
In a test run last fall, I found the world alarmingly slow, not to mention other shortcomings. The review was met with scathing replies from the Second Life community. Further evaluation of Second Life’s blog, however, showed that the avatars were well aware of the issues as well, and were hoping to solve the problems by pressuring
To its credit,
But those blog posts rarely found their way to the same publications that printed every Second Life accomplishment.
Now Diaz is stepping out of the Second Life bubble, going public with a petition website Project Open Letter. As of last night, according to InformationWeek, the site had 3,800 signatures.
"Linden Lab is getting so much press in real life, companies are investing millions of dollars in it," he said. "It almost feels like fraud, they can't really deliver on what's being promised."
Linden Lab held a Town Meeting in Second Life yesterday afternoon in response. Befittingly, the meeting was ravaged by bugs and slowness. Cory Ondrejka, Linden Lab’s CTO, said that “69% of the development staff at LL are currently on scaling and stability and that percentage is rising over the next few weeks.” Then, after 15 minutes, Ondrejka himself was thrown off, the true nightmare scenario for Linden Lab. “To have a Town Hall about stability go completely to hell is a testament to exactly what I'm talking about,” he said.
Now the company finds itself facing scrutiny from a public that, to date, had believed Second Life a darling of the virtual world space. The strategy has been to please the public first, and leave the virtual world’s issues second. Can
There isn’t much time. With well-capitalized competition flooding the space, the alternatives are a step away for Second Life avatars. How long before the tents are packed and an exodus occurs? Once it begins, expect a snowball effect. Real money, after all, is only made when Second Life’s population grows. The virtual economy is on thin ice.