Second Life, to me, is pretty much dead. Although I draw the line of “dead” a bit higher than most. Practically speaking, Second Life is stagnant, and has been for years. The best way I can explain what I mean by that is to say that Second Life has lost its spirit of innovation.
You can bring up as many statistics about Second Life usage all you want. Many people still use it and do interesting things, I know. Sometimes new accounts are even made by bonafide newcomers to Second Life. The elephant in the room is that there is no way on Earth the rate of new users joining Second Life will ever keep up with how many were and are lost all the time. Many people still use Ultima Online as well, which predates Second Life by nearly ten years. Ultima Online is still around for the most part because of a die hard set of fans, the same as Second Life. Good MMO’s die slow, and both of these platforms will be around and financially viable for a long time to come.
But the blisteringly obvious aspect of Second Life that leads me to believe it is truly stagnant is the lack of development. Second Life is literally still plagued by the same problems users were dealing with in 2007. Group chat is still broken, seven years later. Users are still restricted to a very narrow definition of 3D content, mainly in that what you make for Second Life pretty much can only be used in Second Life. The fact that mesh import only supports an antiquated version of COLLADA, and that any sort of animated mesh must be rigged to the proprietary Second Life skeleton is absurd, especially when you look at other platforms of the day like Unreal and Unity, even Cloud Party. I can literally save a file in Maya and simply open it within Unity. It’s that easy.
Also, Second Life is hard to use and doesn’t support the iPhone or iPad.
But even if those problems were solved, I wonder if SL would ever have achieved Facebook levels of popularity. People have seen the Matrix and only a few have been tempted. Turns out most people aren’t that interested in taking the blue pill.
Still, the dream lives on. Second Life has a small, devoted community. Founder Philip Rosedale is taking another run at the problem at a new startup, High Fidelity. And Facebook wants to turn Oculus into a billion-person world.