With the recent announcement of Linden Labs (you know the company behind Second Life) to begin restructuring, one must wonder what the future has in store for our friends. Does this really translate to the end of all the hype surrounding virtual worlds? Well as most of you know that follow this blog, I have long predicted the VW hype to trend downward. The news that Linden Labs will more actively pursue browser-based virtual worlds, doesn’t really surprise me (our CEO has been beating them up on this for some time). It seems as though this future for VW’s is inevitable, in my opinion it’s not a matter of if, just when. The large client download that virtual worlds tend to entail does not entice the critics nor skeptics, however once browser-based virtual worlds become more of a reality, those skeptics may be hard pressed to not change their minds.
The second announcement from LL entailed the fact that SL may become more integrated with social networking, again not a big surprise to most as I and many others have been predicting this for a while. With the meteoric rise of social networking the past few years, I believe this only to be a natural progression in the right direction.
What happens if Linden shuts down the enterprise sector of the company? Why wouldn’t companies go for the enterprise edition of Second Life? The opportunity for Second Life to be big is still there, despite the downturn of the hype cycle that exists now. If Linden Lab is able to introduce a valuable social networking integration within a virtual world, many may adapt to the idea and become believers. As for the browser-based usability access of a VW, if it is done right it has great potential. Time will tell if Linden Lab, the company behind Second Life, has the ability to re-capture believers and reel in the skeptics.