A few years ago, I always thought that Second Life's end would look like a mass exodus to a new world. Now it feels more like mass extinction.
I'm skeptical that there's enough commonality to hold these diversification models together. It seems like they are just extending a big net and hoping there's something out there to catch.
When you start to see successful people jumping out of tenth floor windows toward nothing, it's not entirely crazy to think there's fire up there.
When SL goes down the drain, it's going to take a huge amount of imaginary money and hope down the drain with it. Whatever worlds exist in that aftermath, are going to have to deal with the "Remember what happened to Second Life" reality.
Small businesses go quickly and quietly. Now you see it, now you don't. I'm starting to think that this will be the real foundation challenge that the next generation of virtual worlds will have to contend with. Maybe all of this technology floundering is the easy part.
Penny Patton, a RL graphics artist with a longtime commitment to improving SL visuals, has perhaps a more nuanced view:
Second Life's "end" was never going to be a sudden thing. That was the mistake most SL users made both when predicting SL's end and when dismissing the doomsayers. In a very real sense, SL ended years ago in the same way AOL, Active Worlds, There and MySpace have. The only difference is that none of Second Life's competition quite scratches that same itch, which has left SL in this kind of limbo.
I'd go so far as to say that Linden Lab could turn things around and breath a second wind into SL, if they weren't still so stuck in the mindset that caused them to lose their success in the first place.
Fun fact: As of last year, there are still about 2 million people subscribing to AOL's dial-up service. But to Penny's point, AOL "ended" well over a decade ago. (Funner fact: Exactly two decades ago, AOL inspired a hit movie starring Tom Hanks.) And I agree with her that it's far too early to declare SL dead -- with enough courage to make some bold moves and spend significant amounts of money, Linden Lab still could fairly easily give Second Life a second life. (Sorry.)