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A very notable day

The 29th of March, 2009 was a very notable day in Second Life, for a number of reasons.

On that day, Second Life came within a scant whisker of eclipsing the peak usage of Sony Online Entertainment’s Everquest.

In-world protests There were huge in-world demonstrations (the largest ever in Second Life) about the Openspaces/Homesteads repricing (following up the protests in October 2008), in parallel with protests about the new mature content ratings – each of which individually eclipsed the “tax revolt” in 2003, but ultimately elicited no noticeable response from Linden Lab.

It was also the very last day of sustained growth for Second Life usage.

From the following day, 30 March 2009, Second Life usage would slip into an unsteady decline from which it has so far been unable to recover.

Various events since then have seen Second Life usage stabilise, grow or decline suddenly. The release of Second Life viewer 2 last year was associated with a sudden decline, for example; whereas the reappointing of Philip Rosedale as titular CEO, and the later appointment of Rod Humble steadied the decline and even caused the downward trend to temporarily reverse.

Depressingly, nothing seems to be significantly improving retention by new users, or halting the attrition of established, already-retained users.

If you want my two-bits’ worth (and you probably are interested, since you’re already here), then it’s that no feature or set bundle of features is going to return Second Life to growth. The capabilities and visual appeal of the platform and viewer may well be a problem, but they’re not the right problem.

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