The Meta Crunch Continues: Reuters bails out too
After the global Credit Crunch, recession kicks in in the metaverse as well. We've seen this one coming a year ago though. After the media hype in 2006/2007 brought dozens of companies into the virtual world of Second Life, the brain drain started in august 2007 when wanna be hotshot marketeers failed to digg how Virtual Worlds worked and companies bailed out of their virtual ventures.
Last week we saw Google pull the plug on its shortlived Lively project and this week saw the bankrupcy of Sun, a Japanese Second Life development company and the Register reports that Reuters pulling out their embedded reporter Adam Pasick. The Reuters Second Life website has been silent since september 30th. This probably won't be a big surprise. The buzz in and around Second Life has died down over the past months. Even I find it hard to find Second Life related news to blog and am straying away to other worlds and I'm not the only one. Here's a selection of my former reading list:
- Ambling in Second Life has been quiet for four weeks now.
- Digado has been dead for two months as well.
- The Belgian Second Life Crew has made its last post in July.
- Second Life Blogo, once operated by Second Life Development Company Lost in the Magic Forest has even ceased to exist.
- Dutch SL Community site NL0031 (formerly known as Second Life NL) has been silent since July.
A number of CEO's from virtual worlds have said to me that Second Life may have done the Virtual World industry a bad service while trying to ride that wave of media and corporate attention which now results in not just a fading hype, but the start of a real Meta Crunch. They may have a point, but in my opinion this is a needed shake-out. The space is getting too overpopulated with hundreds of startups trying to get a piece of the pie without bringing innovation into the arena. We've passed the "Yet another Social Network" stadium and moved into the "yet Another Social World" phase. Somehow the picture of the "Dungeon Master" came to mind, a wise old game-guide. We might need one to show us the way in the Metaverse and help us out of trouble.
It's turning into a grim story now, with the Metaverse being sucked up into a black hole. The universe had a big bang, exploded, expanded and now contracts again and diminishes into yet another very very niche market. Chris Williams at The Register put it quite boldly:
Last one to leave, turn off the flying penis
I don't think it is that drastic. It's time for a good old shakedown. Get rid of the cowboys that dream of getting rich faster than you can make instant coffee. There's tons of schools, universities and other institutions out there in the Metaverse (including Second Life) who are still exploring, still paving the way for the masses in finding cool, real and usefull applications of Virtual World technology. We just have to be patient. Explore, accept failure, rejoice in small victories. Keep it going. We'll get there, but have a long road ahead in which we must innovate.