Linden Lab has released an official press release regarding their next generation virtual world. In the interest of adding content to my blog without having to do real work, I’m reprinting it below:
Linden Lab Is Developing The Next-Generation Virtual World
Linden Lab has confirmed that it is developing the next generation virtual world that will be in the spirit of Second Life, an open world where users have incredible power to create anything they can imagine and content creators are king. With 2015 targeted for a beta, the new virtual world will go far beyond what is possible with Second Life, and Linden Lab is actively hiring to help with this ambitious project.
“Second Life is the most successful user-created virtual world ever,” said Ebbe Altberg, Linden Lab CEO. “Eleven years after first opening, it continues to thrive with more than a petabyte of 3D content created by users, a strong economy of user-to-user transactions in which tens of millions of dollars are paid out to creators every year, and an active community that spans the globe. There is a massive opportunity ahead to carry on the spirit of Second Life while leveraging the significant technological advancements that have occurred since its creation, and no company is better positioned to create this than we are.”
Second Life today is better than ever. It’s not going away, and Linden Lab will continue to improve it. Even once the new virtual world opens to users, Second Life will run in parallel with it, and current Second Life users will be able to continue to enjoy the virtual world they love today while they explore all that the next-generation has to offer.
“It’s thanks to the Second Life community that our virtual world today is without question the best there is, and after 11 years we certainly have no intention of abandoning our users nor the virtual world they continually fill with their astounding creativity,” said Altberg. “Second Life has a long future ahead of it, and in addition to improvements and new developments we’re working on specifically for Second Life, some of the work we do for the next-generation project may also benefit Second Life.”
Linden Lab’s priority in building the next-generation virtual world is to create an incredible experience and enable stunningly high-quality creativity that’s easily accessible across multiple platforms. In order to not constrain development toward those goals, complete backward compatibility with everything created over Second Life’s 11-year history has not been set as an absolute requirement from the outset. However, Linden Lab does plan to make certain essential elements transportable for existing Second Life users, including users’ Linden Dollar balances, identities, and social connections. It’s likely that more modern content from Second Life, such as meshes, will also be transferrable to the new platform, but the specific details of compatibility will be addressed as development progresses.
“This is an incredibly exciting time for Linden Lab,” continued Altberg. “With more than a decade of unique experience and unmatched success in this space, we’re creating a new platform that will be a revolutionary step forward, going well beyond Second Life as the next major step toward fulfilling the promise of virtual worlds that Second Life users understand so well. We’re seeking more world-class talent to join us in building this future and encourage everyone interested and qualified to apply.”
I find it interesting—and important—that the official press release spends the better part of three paragraphs talking about how the work on SL2 does not mean that Second Life is going away. It means that between the original informal announcements and media interviews, Linden Lab decided that they needed to bring this element front and center in their marketing. Clearly, they are worried about the impact of offering the Next Big Thing on the existing Not So Big Thing that makes them considerable money. I think Linden Lab underestimated the role of rumor and the effect of over a decade of earned resident mistrust in their initial communications.