Editor’s opinion: Second Life founder Philip Rosedale returns to Linden Lab to help navigate the business and its revolutionary virtual world through the modern metaverse push. It would be quite remarkable if Second Life could find a second life, or at the very least, if Linden Lab could use what it has learned in the area of digital socialization to build a virtual reality-based successor to Second Life. They already tried once with Sansar, but eventually sold the project in 2020.
Rosedale’s social virtual reality company, High Fidelity, has acquired a stake in Linden Lab, which would include a cash investment and distributed IT patents. Some High Fidelity employees will also join Linden Lab, and Rosedale is also joining Second Life as a strategic advisor.
Second Life was launched in 2003 as an online virtual world where players, represented as avatars, create a “second life” for themselves. It’s not really a game as there are no set goals or “fabricated conflict” but rather a virtual space where you can do whatever makes you happy.
Growth was strong in the early years and in 2013 some 36 million accounts had been created with one million users logging in every month. In May 2020, Linden Lab CEO Ebbe Altberg noted the Second Life community had approximately 900,000 monthly active users.
Big tech has since jumped on the metaverse bandwagon, but not everyone is convinced that they can do it right.
“No one has managed to create a virtual world like Second Life” noted Rosedale. “Big tech that offers virtual reality headsets and creates a metaverse on their advertising-driven behavior modification platforms will not create a magical and unique digital utopia for everyone,” he said, adding that virtual worlds don’t need to be dystopian.