Why a Tier Reduction Won’t Bring Back Old Second Life Users

Earlier this week I made a strange realization that Second Life is much like The Never Ending Story.  In the Never Ending Story movie, there is a world called Fantasia.  It is created from the imagination of the people of our world, and more specifically the books we read and write.  Fantasia becomes endangered when the world is slowly being destroyed by a mysterious force called The Nothing. Eventually this force bleeds into our world, blanking out our books. Without spoiling the movie it takes quite a hero to put things right at the very last possible moment.

In a lot of ways Second Life is like the Never Ending Story. It’s created by the imaginations of people who exist in our world, who help breathe life into an alter-world.  Each region is like a book that tells someones story.  Each avatar is a character of that story.  Sadly, much like the movie the nothing is affecting us too.  The grid continues to shrink at a steady pace; sometimes hemorrhaging more regions than average each week. Slowly we’re losing our creative spaces — and if the “authors” of these creative spaces leave the odds of them coming back for a special sale are pretty slim. They’re gone for good.

Recently Linden Lab offered old discounts to educational entities that were in SL. While it may seem generous, it is too little, too late.  Here’s why:  If you’re an educational entity, you’re either going to pay someone to build your region, or build your region yourself.  If they paid someone, the odds are they’ve paid at least a couple thousand dollars to build it, and it took months to build.  If they made it themselves, the odds are it took many people several months to put it together. If they left Second Life, their regions and all the effort they put into it is gone.  A sale or special offer simply is not enough to compensate for the time and money they’ve already spent, and lost.

Even if tier were reduced for everyone today, I doubt it would bring back more than 5% of the creators who’ve already left Second Life. They already know that SL is a specialty platform, and that working on it can be very, very difficult at times. Starting over with a blank canvas on any other medium usually a breath of fresh air, but SL is a specialty case where the value of the service is at best tolerable. SL is expensive, plagued by bugs, plagued by service disruptions, filled with stolen content, and a champion of doing the bare minimum for customer service.  If SL could knock out half of these problems for good, it would add a lot of value to the service, and almost make it worth $295 a month for one region.

Right now, a special offer will do very little to win back anyone who’s left. The only thing a tier reduction would do now is encourage people who are still here to stay. It might entice new users in SL to try to create more immerse spaces. For a while it may staunch the loss of regions every month. What SL needs more than anything right now is MORE immersive places. But for now, the Nothing is consuming the grid, and the only way to battle it is to make the entry level into creating immerse spaces easier to obtain or make SL worth the fees we’re charged.