The founder of Second Life, one of the earliest digital-reality worlds, is returning for a second stint to take on big tech. In 2003, Philip Rosedale established an online game where users may hang around. Communicate with other players, and make purchases using avatars. Second Life is a predecessor of the virtual worlds that huge computer corporations are now attempting to develop, dubbed the metaverse.
Mr. Rosedale said in an interview that he is returning to the firm he left in 2010 to serve as a strategic consultant and manage its expansion as the metaverse gathers traction.
Second Life may have had a head start on some of the metaverse companies
Second Life may have a leg up on some of the metaverse corporations it aspires to compete with. However it is still the underdog to some extent. The game Second Life was launched before Facebook, but according to a business representative. Its user base has been stable at roughly one million since 2008.
According to Meta’s most recent results, its Facebook, Instagram, and other services had a combined monthly user base of more than 3.5 billion people. The videogame Fortnite by Epic Games Inc. and the gaming company Roblox by Roblox Corp.. Both of which are making inroads in the metaverse, have many times the number of players as Second Life.
Mr. Rosedale is working with Brad Oberwager, chairman of Second Life parent company Linden Research Inc., to inject energy into the business. Second Life currently allows users to withdraw money from in-game sales into the real world. A feature that several other nascent metaverses lack, and which he believes will attract users.
Upcoming updates aimed at boosting the game’s social and commercial components. Such as avatars and the digital marketplace, are expected to boost user growth, he said.
Still, Second Life faces a challenge as a two-decade-old platform.
Some of its competitors’ largest user groups were born within the last 24 years and are unfamiliar with Second Life as they are with services like Roblox or Fortnite. Mr Oberwager believes Second Life can appeal to this generation by providing a better user experience. Including more lifelike avatars, and by refusing to adopt the revenue models of other Internet companies that track user behavior.
Mr. Rosedale is bringing a small team of developers, a number of patents. An undisclosed financial investment to Second Life from his company, High Fidelity Inc., which specializes on audio and virtual-reality experiences. Which he started in 2013.