Thursday



Linden Lab's Blocksworld: Not a Huge Moneymaking Hit So Far, But Pretty Big With Kids
Blocksworld from Linden Lab reached the top of the iPad charts last month, making it the company's first hit product besides Second Life, but according to leading mobile analytics firm Appannie, it's not sustaining in the stratosphere..  
the game is nowhere near a hit like Candy Crush Sagawhich makes close to $1 million a day 
Even in it's own core competency - building - Linden Labs get's it's butt kicked by newcomers. It is a pity because there are very talented people at Linden but their corporate vision and product design teams have always been blind as a bat to what their target market wants. Blockword was targeted at kids ? Then why are kid friendly features missing ?  Why does Candy Crush sells so much more to kids ? Because they did their homework and made a game with kids in mind full of features kids love.

This kind of blindness has always limited what Second Life could be. It could have been a great game building tool. Or a corporate meeting / virtual facility tool. Or a virtual online college campus education tool. Or a 3D messaging system like IMVU. By trying to be all those things at once and more, it ended up being none of them. It also fed on the very same people who gave it it's charm and beauty. One wonders how it has lasted so long.


Is funny how Linden Labs is trying to go after building blocks 3 years after Minecraft showed the world what a simplified builder game can sell for.
Ironic because LL always had the technology and in house technical skill to do Minecraft, Blockworld or a simple no fuss building game. What was missing was the vision, and wisdom to go for a lower cost product.
Au's own book shows how very early in SL's history Linden Labs realized how people loved to build and would pay money to be able to build houses and tables and even simply make the terrain around their house more pleasant.
But instead of charging $10 one time to the customer and giving the customer the ability to build for free for years LL went high end. Building in Second Life, outside of 1 hour reset sandbox sims costs as much as owning a car.
Some builders are lucky enough to be subsidized by sim owners, modern Mecenas that pay the car cost to let talented people drive it. Yet like we have known since the middle ages or earlier, the relationship between patrons and artists is rife with tension. The devil in Da Vinci's Sistine Chapel looks eerily like Da Vinci's patron. I'm pretty sure a lot of builders in SL thought of similar ideas when building for an irascible sim owner.
People see all those sims disappearing and don't know the reason. Is simple: Owning a sim in Second Life costs as much as a car payment. Not kidding here.
A sim costs $1,000 downpayment, a car can be had for as little as that down. A sim also has a monthly tier of $295 per month which is also what a monthly payment for a car costs.
After 5 years owning a car, I am left with a valuable used car that can be sold for 1-3,000 dollars depending on the mileage. After 5 years owning a sim I was left with... memories.
A 5 years old car can be used as down payment for a new car. An abandoned 5 years old sim can not be retrieved. You need to pay the $1,000 all over again, absolutely no discount or consideration is given for the $15,000 or more you spent on the old sim.

I type this to show people why SL is dying: LL greed killed it at birth. By sucking artists dry, or making an environment were artists have to endure the whims of rich patrons who are then sucked dry by LL they made money eating their own in world creativity.
SL's revenue model was shown for what it is by a little independent programmer out of nowhere in May 2009. LL had a good run but there is no way people will keep on paying a car payment to build now that even Linden Labs itself is jumping on the bandwagon of low cost building games.
It is ironic that a company that had such a reputation for it's vision for virtual worlds failed to see the reality right under it's nose. SL is an extremely overpriced high end platform that lacks performance to be really used for high end games or anything more than "play barbie shopping" (oh and pr0n). 
Lowering the price substantially, even while cutting features was always the better answer. Or fixing the lag and cross sim issues that prevent it from being used by gamers or entertainers. Or providing real tools to protect corporations from griefers spoiling their broadcasts with.. Well Anshe's Chung interview is unforgetable. No serious company will risk having it's CEO or top brass exposed to flying pornographic objects.
 Linden Labs never decided on a target market and never lowered it's price enough for a mass appeal. High End products are niche by definition. By trying to be all things for all people - but only the rich people - Linden Labs got neither - the people and corporations who can afford a sim have left Second Life frustrated with lag and lack of security and lack of stability. The people who can live with a buggy less than perfect product can't afford to own a sim in Second Life, hence can't afford to build or to do anything but shop and enjoy the  entertainment there. But at this level of lag and stability the only viable entertainment that can be built in Second Life is role playing games, small artists galleries, small music shows and small scale porn / adult entertainment. Any area with more than 50 avatars will get really laggy so U2 can never play on Second Life. H R Geiger can never do a gallery showing even 10% of his work. We are left with vampires, Brin'O and up and coming music players, poets, graphic artists. And porn, lots of it, but also limited to just 50-100 avatars per place.
And now Linden Labs sees the decline of their product and Notch "eating SL's lunch" for years on end and wants in... When they had what Notch's had for a decade, but were never smart enough to sell it.

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