It’s pretty easy: Become a consultant/studio who provides services that get First Life companies onto Second Life.
I say this because it’s about the only way I see to actually be profitable off the site/game/world. The guys at Linden Labs (the company behind Second Life, or SL as they call it) are possibly the best hype-masters I’ve ever seen. For example, today their partner Universal Pictures issued a press release with the title “‘Smokin’ Aces: Second Life Assassin’ Game Proves an Unprecedented Hit in Virtual World.” Unprecedented Hit, eh? There isn’t a single stat of any kind in the release text – no usage, performance, subscribers, etc. Nothing.
I’ve watched two main themes emerge on SL in the past two weeks:
- “Tech leaders” think Second Life could be a “gold mine” (discussion: BlackRimGlasses, CNNMoney)
- Second Life is a pyramid scheme (discussion: ValleyWag, Capitalism 2.0, Duncan Riley)
Now I don’t know if it’s a game or a world, and I don’t much care. I know I believe the ~100,000 users number more than I do the 2,000,000 users number. But fundamentally it doesn’t matter to me. When clients come to me to ask my opinion on SL, I just don’t want them spending money on it today. When I see companies like ShowTime launch a show property in SL (congrats to Akela, a former LD blogger!), I don’t understand how they cost-justify it.
Today, like it or not, SL is a small number of people enjoying their free reign in a fantasy world. They are, for the most part, very technically savvy. There’s a lot of gaming, gambling, and sex in SL. When I read there’s a Second Life millionnaire, I want to see that person actually cash out before I get excited. I’ve seen virtual press conferences and read about someone finding a job there. That’s nice.
The bottom line is there are few users and it’s a very narrow niche. Furthermore, in order to get in as a big company, you have to be willing to invest a lot of money, since it requires a very specific skill-set. While some might say “sounds like 1995 and the Web all over again” I point out one quick difference: when new users try Second Life, most do not return. The same was simply not the case 12 years ago.
So, want to take advantage of the Second Life “gold mine”? Jump on the bandwagon and ride the gravy train as long as you can. That is, until the pyramid begins to crumble…