Tuesday, September 10, 2013

Ego, and Linden Lab's Bad Decisions

Someone's got a really inflated sense of his own importance in the SL Doctor Who fan sphere, and after a couple of months of absence is claiming that without him the whole lot is dying off -- people are losing interest without him there to do all the marketing yadda yadda yadda, and the BBC wants nothing to do with SL after seeing how many self-absorbed jerks are present not only in the SL Whovian community but across the sci-fi fan base in general.

Granted, there is a grain of truth somewhere in all of this idiot's egotistical nonsense.  Certain regions never got the sheer amount of daily traffic others have, due mainly to being clique-ish, elitist, drama-causing jerks.  No one likes to put up with bad attitudes, and word of mouth spreads rather quickly to kill off groups, businesses, and communities that engage in that sort of behavior.  "We're the best around and our sh** doesn't stink" and "those other peeps are a**holes" only gets you so far, and then all you've got is an empty region no one wants to visit because you're all too busy having yourselves a circle jerk to notice that your attitude is what's driving people away.

So the claim that certain Whovian regions in SL are dying has some merit, but it has little to do with not having a certain lying, conniving, warpath-trodding bully around to handle all the marketing and do the bulk of the public relations.  It has more to do with bad attitudes, and Mr. Loser has the biggest, baddest one of them all, which is more than likely the primary reason he was finally pushed out of the Whovian region he called home for so many years.  Yet he'll continue to blame everyone but himself for his troubles and gloat over the havoc he thinks he's wreaked, and all because he couldn't be the one and only big dog in the proverbial kennel.

Ego.  It ruins a hell of a lot for a lot of people, and in SL it's no different.


But more than anything, if there is a decline in the SL Whovian community, I suspect it's more a symptom of a wider problem in SL altogether: ridiculously high tier and bad business decisions by Linden Lab that are combining to cripple Second Life itself.

Let me explain.

By acquiring xStreetSL and transforming it into the marketplace, even going so far as to convert to direct product upload instead of the magic boxes (which required at least some small bit of virtual land), the need for maintaining a highly expensive in-world store was effectively eliminated.  Why spend hundreds of dollars of real money per month on a virtual region and maybe barely break even, or worse, lose money, when you can use a sandbox to build and upload content to the marketplace, thus eliminating a huge chunk of overhead cost?  With tier remaining at an all time high and real-world incomes shrinking for most SL users, the writing was on the wall as to what the consequences would be, and the consequences include the steady loss of privately-owned regions that can now only be stemmed with cutting tier across the board.

To be fair, Linden Lab does seem to have finally learned from its mistake in eliminating the non-profit-education discount, and reversed that decision earlier this summer.  This may help attract educational institutions and non-profits to return to the grid, though many may not want to come back after having been burned before by LL and they may not like all the new restrictions placed on content ownership on the grid.  Basically, Linden Lab claims rights to all content created on the grid, and has moved to block people from being able to save their own created content for use on competing grids, effectively putting up a very high, very thick wall between Second Life and real-world people whose content has helped generate a lot of money for the Lab over the last ten years.  Other grids, such as InWorldz and Avination, have far fewer restrictions or none at all, and sim-on-a-stick has freed up a lot of content creators to save their work to a format that allows them to practically take it wherever they wish.

So right now Linden Lab is betting that its other computer games will salvage the company's prospects, while belatedly realizing that some of its past business decisions pertaining to Second Life simply aren't sustainable in the long run and is now slowly working to remedy those mistakes.

Will Linden Lab eventually lower region tier pricing across the board?  Sooner later it'll have to.  No business that wants to remain open keeps its prices high in the midst of record low demand, especially when demand is so low because of an ongoing economic depression that shows no sign of recovery.

Wages have to go up and prices have to come down, in order for people to start spending again.  That's economic reality.  Only time will tell id the geniuses at Linden Lab will wake up to it.

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