Are Second Life residents anxious about Project Sansar?

Change brings anxiety. I expect that. Last year in July, Linden Lab announced that they were working on a next generation virtual platform – code-named Project Sansar. Second Life residents are, understandably, anxious. I spoke a little about this in my recent panel appearance on the DraxFiles Radio Hour, and I’ll expand my thoughts on it here.

What are they anxious about? I host weekly discussions at Basilique – a bit like Tom Boellstorff used to do back in the day with his weekly meetup called Virtual Cultures. At one of the discussions, I asked participants:

Are you anxious about Sansar? If so, what are you anxious about?

10 anxieties rose to the fore:

  1. They’re worried that Sansar will replace Second Life
  2. They’re worried that Sansar won’t allow them to do adult activities that 6 /10 already do in Second Life
  3. They’re worried they will “lose” the inventory they’ve spent hundreds or thousands of real dollars on
  4. They’re worried that the technical requirements will be beyond them
  5. They’re worried there’ll be fewer people left in Second Life when Sansar opens, and that Linden Lab will split the user-base
  6. They’re worried they’ll be forced to share their private information to use Sansar
  7. They’re worried it will be less of a world, and more of an isolated platform or game
  8. They’re worried it will be “dumbed-down” for the masses
  9. They’re worried they’ll be unable to build there – that it will be just for professionals
  10. They’re worried about the economic model, their businesses going up in smoke and the cost implications of sales tax

Some of these anxieties are legitimate. Some have no basis in fact. If you are interested in what we know about Project Sansar to date, I invite you to read Inara Pey’s post – A Project Sansar Summary – which goes into detail on the facts, and references each claim with a source.

Why are people anxious? Partly, because more people are resistant to change than excited about embracing it. I meet this resistance every day in my consulting business. Everyday, I meet intelligent people who fear things just because they are new or unknown. And let’s be honest – fear is a useful thing sometimes: It’s one of our instinctual responses that helps us avoid danger.

So what do anxious people do?

Some passively panic. They become paralysed and stick their heads in the sand and refuse to think about the future. Others actively panic. They might pick up sticks, divest themselves of everything they own in Second Life, and run off to places like Inworldz, effectively manifesting the reality they most fear, before it even happens.

When I work with people who are resistant to change, I give them a change management plan. This is an easy, step-by-step transition plan, that lays out the facts – and the options – and gives people clear choices and pathways to follow. I’ve noticed that leaving people to work out their anxieties on their own doesn’t work as well as guiding them through the process in a structured and professional way.

In every group affected by big change, there will be innovators, there will be a middle majority, and there will be laggards. The innovators are excited about the new option that’s coming. From the organisation’s standpoint, they’re pretty easy to deal with, because they see change as an adventure. Everyone else will be harder work, and they need transition plans. If Linden Lab wants everyone else, they might want to create transition plans for them. For example, I’d create a website, where Second Life users could register and find out more about Project Sansar. I’d call it “Your Project Sansar Transition Plan”.

I’d lay the change process out for people, step-by-step. Barring that, then people will just have to deal with it on their own. It’s not ideal, but it’s life.

What about people who just don’t want change? I think people have to realise that just because something new isn’t right for everybody, that doesn’t mean it isn’t right for many people.

Is Sansar for Second Lifers?

For some it will be great, but not for all. I imagine Linden Lab would like every Second Life resident to move over to Sansar the day they open. If that happened, I have a feeling they’d be pretty happy, because they could shut down Second Life, and save bundles of money on maintaining a business model that has a very limited future.

Beyond that, who wants to fight a battle on two fronts? We don’t have two Facebooks – one for the original college students and one for the rest of the world. Apple doesn’t support 10-year-old operating systems, they focus their attention on the latest and greatest because that’s where the future lies.

Sansar might not be for many Second Life residents, and that’s ok. No one will force you to move. No one will force you to leave Second Life, until of course, there is no more Second Life.

Might Second Life disappear? Of course it might, and it probably will.

Companies retire products all the time. In the recent fireside chat with UploadVR just this month, Ebbe Altberg is talking about “years” for Second Life, and talking about “decades” for Sansar.

New project launches aiming for the moon need massive focus and investment. If Linden Lab really want Sansar to succeed, they’re going to have to focus a different kind of customer, and that’s the person who’s likely never stepped into a virtual world.

Let’s face it, Second Life only has 900,000 active users and concurrent users have declined year on year since the golden ages. Linden Lab want 10s and 100s of millions to visit Sansar. Do you really think that under a million Second Life users is even their primary target market? Perhaps at first, but the real target is people who will be brand new to virtual reality experiences – and there is nothing you, I, or anyone can do about that, other than get in line and enjoy the ride.

Related:

Second Life Blogger Nalates Urriah is writing a series on Sansar-related anxieties, including a post on fragmentation and separation, both worth reading because they go into more detail about each of these anxieties and why they’re needless.

By | 2017-03-19T21:01:22+00:00 August 23rd, 2015|Must Read, Opinions, Project Sansar, Second Life|25 Comments

About the Author:

Canary Beck has been an active Second Life resident since 2007. She is an SL blogger, artist, creator, merchant, sim owner, researcher, filmmaker and performing artist. Offline she works as a London-based internet marketing consultant and business owner.

25 Comments

  1. […] working my way through the Anxieties Canary lists in her article I get to the tenth, […]

  2. […] eighth of Canary’s anxieties is about dumbing down Sansar. I think it goes hand-in-hand with the ninth anxiety: too complex. […]

  3. […] Canary’s list of anxieties Second Life™ residents has as items 3 and 4 a fear of losing their SL inventory and that they won’t be smart enough to use Sansar… See: Are Second Life™ residents anxious about Project Sansar? […]

  4. […] I think this is kind of funny. But the second anxiety Canary Beck came up with is just that question, not worded quite that way, but not being PC I don’t have to ‘imply’ it. I can just say it. See Canary’s: Are Second Life residents anxious about Project Sansar? […]

  5. the dune mouse August 28, 2015 at 4:43 pm

    PS – can you do an Alice in Wonderland contest after Paradise Lost lol- I got inspired in the tulgey wood on my virtual blog! https://desertdreams1001blog.wordpress.com/2015/08/28/im-back-finally/wabbits/ – what fun.

  6. the dune mouse August 27, 2015 at 7:35 pm

    (btw am looking forward to Paradise Lost the movie.)
    Oh boy!- I just returned to SL after a long absence. I can’t even begin to think of a “Sansar! ” But no worries or anxieties from me,- and whether or not I will get involved in it is another question. You are right Becky of course, Change is inevitable and to philosophically quote C. Castaneda ) one can “never return to Ixtlan” I have discovered this myself. I am grateful to have discovered a virtual world which so inspired me to continue my imaginative travels in my other life. So for me it has come full circle in a sense though curiosity might get the better of me and I may at some point check it (Sansar) out- but seeing I have become a virtual minimalist and mystic 😀 I don’t worry about virtual baggage (emotional or otherwise) or pixel possessions!- and there is something to be said for being somewhat low profile too!! There is a freedom!! and to me friends are friends whether on SL, facebook or wordpress. Hope all is well Becky- back soon!

    • Becky August 28, 2015 at 9:19 am

      Good to hear from you. I hope you’ve signed up? Yeah, of all people I didn’t imagine would be anxious, it’d be you 🙂

      • the dune mouse August 28, 2015 at 4:32 pm

        I did sign up Becky- those snippets look awesome!! I just got back and am a bit lagged.

  7. Whirli Placebo August 25, 2015 at 12:23 am

    John, if we use your method to calculate users: 24 hours x 40,000 (average number of people online) = 960,000 users per day. Now multiply this by 30 days, and you have 28.8 million users. Um. It doesn’t work that way. As I said, this is just all speculative to begin with, but we just can’t create methods of computations to meet a particular number. Even the interesting statistic of Night, of 300,000 new sign ups per month would need a huge disclaimer if we take the article https://gigaom.com/2013/06/23/second-life-turns-10-what-it-did-wrong-and-why-it-will-have-its-own-second-life/ at face value; the article mentions a figure of 400,000 new registrations per month, and then drops the bombshell “and almost all of them give up after the first try.” I’m truly not trying to be adversarial on such an arcane point of active users….but if that 543000 number given by linden labs in 2008 is accurate, and based on the spreadsheet, would seem to indicate unique users (not users+alts)…then it would be impossible to say that 7 years after the height of user interest in sl, we have added 70% more unique users. impossible. The 900,000 number has to be a very qualified number. And regarding the counting alt and main account as separate individual users…okay…but the fallacy in that from a marketing standpoint is that every customer has x amount to spend. by adding their alt’s, their net household income doesn’t change. will they spend more if they have multiple accounts, yes…but in a business plan, you’d still want to know number of unique users, and you could throw in an asterisk about how much their spending changes per each alt. The only thing we can say with any certainty in all this, is LL is making money in SL….else it would have been closed a long long time ago.

  8. John August 24, 2015 at 7:00 pm

    @ John Moon The accountants and finance folks at Linden Labs have already did the cost analysis of Sansar and Second Life and whether they can afford to lose users or not. Second Life is using alot of old fashioned physical servers in it’s architecture that is going to be expensive to maintain plus having staff to do it. Sansar will be in the cloud and use those type of servers where they can just pay Amazon or Google cloud services to do the behind the scenes work and make up the difference by laying off people they no longer need to handle the physical server work. Linden Lab has the numbers, they know the amount people spend in Second Life and on what. if they are letting in the top mesh creators to test out Sansar then they will probably market Sansar to the people who spend the money in Second Life. They are not after the average user who is not a premium member, who probably does not own land or even pay tier and hardly spends any money in Second Life. They are after the one’s who buy items and not cheap ones either. If their numbers go down once Sansar goes live, as long as their profits are steady and the same, they will be fine. The main issue will be if the Second Life users who spend the money in Second Life do not migrate over, then they will be in trouble.

    • Becky August 24, 2015 at 7:31 pm

      “The main issue will be if the Second Life users who spend the money in Second Life do not migrate over, then they will be in trouble.”

      I agree with much of what you’re saying but I’m not sure about this. As I said in my post, I don’t think SL users – economically active or otherwise – is the target market for Project Sansar.

      I specifically have asked this question, in slightly different ways to both Peter Grey and Ebbe Altberg. To Peter, I asked: How does the target market for SL differ from the target market for Project Sansar? To which he replied:

      “SL audience super broad in demographic & use cases, but SL is also limited by a number of factors (quality, scale, ease of use, etc.) – we’re thinking of very differently w/ proj. sansar so that it can reach a larger audience of creators & so they can better reach their audiences”

      I asked Ebbe if there is a target market – that he felt is under-represented in Second Life – that he will be specifically targeting for Project Sansar? (e.g. corporate, health, or education sector, etc.)

, to which he replied: “All markets are under-represented. Someone is going to build a platform for 10s and 100s of millions of people.”

      They’re not coming out and saying (and why would they?), but they’re not building a business on the hope that SL users will climb on board; they plan to succeed with or without us. And frankly, from a business perspective, that’s a smart thing.

  9. John Moon August 24, 2015 at 11:40 am

    I suspect it is 900,000, and the idea that alts dont count is rather a fallacy.Each alt spends money , dresses itself in many cases has land and a business.So this idea that Alts dont count as active Users is rather odd.Its a second life prejudice. There is no difference between alt and main.There may be a few people that misuse the alts to simply create more avatars.These incidents are remedied on a case by case basis by Linden lab. Now as for anxiety. IT only presents an anxiety if it disappears. There are basically as many active users as 5 years ago and every day i deal with new comers as a DJ.

    This idea that there are no new comers or very few is again a second life prejudice of people who have been around for sometime.It usually related to a slump in business or attendance.However there are other reasons for this rather than lack of new avatars. Second life consumers have become more sophisticated. What sold 2 years ago no longer sells well as their learning curve goes up exponentially. Sellers need to adapt and stay grounded in the new real world items which people in second life will want. The newest clothes the newest reality in mesh.You can’t decry linden lab and blame them for slowing sales. Other retailers are seeing Boom times other places are seeing record attendance.

    as i said there is only anxiety if second life were to disappear. To that end i cloned myself on Inworldz with the idea that IF and only if Second life were to suddenly disapear, i could take my family over to another grid.I dont spend time there mind you but i believe it is wise to be prepared.Second life presents a special platform for sharing over long distances to friends and family which you can’t re create using things like Skype or FaceTime , a place where relationships form and are like little families.So I dont think its the same to prepare for the worst and hope for the best. I Am hoping that Sansar will have access points form within Second life.

    If it were not blocked we could teleport between other grids now.There would be no reason to block project Sansar.In a way its exciting. I would urge Sellers though not to leave second life as almost everyone on inworldz or other grids spends the majority fo time here on Second life. Other grids are merely sidelines and the people there usually take their now select group or family.Also the other grids do not come close to the sophistication of second life.

    • Whirli Placebo August 24, 2015 at 2:02 pm

      The only hard stats I’ve found so far are Wagner JamesAu’s interesting article at http://nwn.blogs.com/nwn/2011/03/gen-y-demographics-in-second-life-43-.html where he points out at a time when LL was releasing stats, they reported 543,574 monthly active users in 2008. Now this was SL’s golden age, yes? To think that number has increased 70%, to a 900k mark in 2015, would defy commonsense…and you could be sure LL would be promoting this kind of growth in their marketing press releases. I hear your point in your thoughts that not counting alts is a fallacy…but its still a fair question and absolutely routine business question to ask how many unique individual users. If the company was public, it would be a critical thing to report for investors. We are engaging in a speculative conversation regardless since LL will not report business numbers, but I guess we share different perspectives. As a musician, audience drop off between 2010 and the present is night and day, and I’d still put my money on that 900,000 number being unique logins per month, and not unique active users. What sources are there out there that independently monitor web traffic?

      • John Moon August 24, 2015 at 3:56 pm

        You mean other than they monitor every sim in second life for traffic,every log in,etc etc and recently did maintenance on their traffic monitoring system for quite a few days. If you check the number of people in world at any given hour and then were to multiply that by a factor of 24.( Considering that while your asleep people from other countries are logging on and you or I only see a fraction of the actual people logging in). But further there is no real reason for linden lab to manufacture numbers. They could easily use a fall in numbers to rationalize moving everyone to Sansar. However instead they intend on keeping Second life running. It would not make sense to show higher numbers on the older system then say well we h ave 8 to 900000 users. Which on any grid is a lot of users.So lets start a new platform which might well mean we lose some of those users?Close the other grid. Linden lab should be saying hey we are losing members at a staggering level so we are going to update our platform and close the losing grid( much like they did the teen grid) But thats not what is happening.I h ave sen the arguments that Second life has less users and i find them more of a conspiracy theory rather than fact.

      • Night Lefevre August 24, 2015 at 8:21 pm

        The number of monthly users (900,000) is to be expected when you consider an approximate number of 10,000 signups/day (or 300,000/month) in addition to the other avatars that sign-in every month. Maximum daily concurrency is approximately 50,000/day. If, for that number of concurrent users, there are 11 times more users that are not signed in but will sign in during the month, these would add up the remaining 600,000 (12 x 50,000) users to give a total of 900,000/month. All these data points are available at http://gridsurvey.com/economy.php

    • Becky August 24, 2015 at 7:21 pm

      Thanks for your comment. I pretty much agree with everything in it.

  10. John August 24, 2015 at 5:00 am

    I really do not have any Sansar anxiety because I am actually looking forward to what Sansar has to offer: cheaper and larger sims, with more prims, and an all mesh world. Sansar will not be for everyone, just like Second Life is not for everyone. People often fear change in both worlds, but companies adapt and change and come and go. Ask yourself how many times have a favorite brand, business, or service that you loved has either changed or adapted, or even go out of business in your lifetime? I think people should focus on the positives of Sansar, would love to see an article about that, instead of the negatives and the “anxiety.”

    • Becky August 24, 2015 at 7:19 pm

      That’s coming up soon on my Sansar 6 post! And yes, change is inevitable and normal – just get on with it.

  11. Whirli Placebo August 24, 2015 at 12:02 am

    900,000 active users? What is the source of this statistic?

    • Becky August 24, 2015 at 12:13 am

      Linden Lab frequently cites this number as the active user base. It is all over articles in the press.

      • Whirli Placebo August 24, 2015 at 1:39 am

        Ah…I see what you mean. Just did a google. Surely 900,000 active users makes no sense. Maybe unique monthly logins. It would riveting to me to actually find the number of unique users (not counting alts or multiple logins of the same username.) I would be shocked if its even close to 100,000 unique users.

  12. Willow August 23, 2015 at 9:38 pm

    Yes I have Sansar anxiety for many of the reasons mentioned. I am moving to an open “world” provider and exploring the hypergrid and minimizing my exposure to SL. This isn’t an easy decision since I’ve been in SL. I think Project Sansar will make SL moribund in five years. Plus I have watched LL for over a decade and I doubt they will do it right.

    • Becky August 24, 2015 at 7:17 pm

      I’m thinking 5 years too actually – unless it continues to be greatly profitable that is, why drown a cash cow?

  13. Shug Maitland August 23, 2015 at 7:00 pm

    I prefer to assume (with ever increasing justification) that Sansar will be nothing at all like Second Life, especially as seen through the eyes of those actually familiar with SL.
    As Ebbe said back on July 17th, “… it could be many, many, many years before what really works for people in Second Life is something they could replicate and achieve in this next generation product.”

    • Becky August 24, 2015 at 7:15 pm

      I reckon you’re right. This is going to be very different. Thanks for stopping by!

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