Thursday, November 29, 2018
Commentary: Has the Collapse of InWorldz Stopped Many Second Life Residents From Considering Another Virtual World
By Bixyl Shuftan
When there were a number of residents raising serious questions about Linden Lab and the future of Second Life in late 2013 and early 2014 during the ToS Content Creator controversy, when it looked like Linden Lab was reserving the right to take any content it's customers uploaded and use it for it's own purposes or even sell, some started making plans to leave. While a few talked about leaving virtual worlds altogether, most comments I heard were from people saying they planned to head to another virtual world. Of these, some talked about an Opensim world, but most talked about one particular one: InWorldz, the second-largest of the grids in population. The concerns got to the point a number of my neighbors got a few sims in InWorldz as a "lifeboat" in case Linden Lab shut down our virtual world. It was stated at the time that if Second Life folded, about a third would head to InWorldz, a third would head to OpenSim, and a third would give up virtual worlds altogether. But eventually, Linden Lab responded to the residents about the Content Creator controversy, and the plans to head to InWorldz were put aside. But still, if anything happened to Second Life, InWorldz was still around as our "backup."
So with Inworldz itself folding in July this year, how has this changed the answer to the question "Where would you go it Second Life shut down?" If Linden Lab was hoping for some to consider their "Next Generation Virtual World" Sansar, they're in for a disappointment. I've only heard of a handful of people saying they go on Sansar regularly, and only one region from the older grid has moved there. Sansar has more going against it besides the people here already having a virtual home. While Sansar looks good, you can't really interact with objects and people like you can in Second Life. And even among next-generation worlds, Sansar is far behind VR Chat in popularity. Some of the comments I've read are from people who remark that socially it has more of the feel of the early Second Life.
Listening to friends, some stated they would head to Opensim. But there's no one world that people seem to favor. When InWorldz fell, there was a great diaspora of the residents among a number of places, Kitely, Sinespace, DigiWorldz, Discovery, Tranquility, The Great Canadian Grid, and many others. When talking to my virtual neighbors, many commented they'd spent more time with friends in games, such as Ark Survival Evolved or Fortnight.
So with no "second place" virtual world, it appears instead of an exodus mainly to one destination, a shutdown of Second Life would mean a virtual diaspora with it's residents heading to a number of far smaller worlds and a number of MMOs. Once seen as "Internet 2.0," it would be the end of an era when a virtual world could hope to have thousands of active residents.
There is one thing to consider. At this time while many residents still have the love-hate relationship with Linden Lab they've had for years, it's much better than the days of 2013-2014. While a number grumble that the Linden's effort on Sansar could have been much better spent here, there's no crisis of confidence like there was in the ToS CC Controversy, no big worries that Linden Lab is going to steal the content of it's users, or that they plan to up and shut down this world. If there were, they'd start making more serious plans for exit strategies again.
So while today things look like the sudden end of this virtual world would mean it's users would be scattered in the wind, perhaps five years from now, the answer will be different. That is, unless the big fear is realized and Second Life really does end up shutting down.