I have just read an article on the GamesIndustry.biz website in which Rod Humble, the current CEO of Linden Labs, is interviewed about their vision for the future.
He begins with the usual claims that the number of new users in Second Life is growing again, and the number of people leaving is dropping:
and over the holiday period we had over 20,000 new people sign up a day. Now, that’s not Facebook numbers, but 20,000 a day…. that’s a lot, right?”
More interestingly he says that he decided that it was important to “put the ‘lab’ back into Linden Lab”; that is, to make the company synonymous with a range of innovative ideas rather than one product that might well have plateaued. His intention is to have three entirely new products launched by the end of 2012, so that Linden Labs will no longer just be seen as a holding company for Second Life.
One of these products is a new kind of narrative game that combines “the kind of simulation found in The Sims with actual social interaction and interactive storytelling”. This is being developed by LittleTextPeople, a studio that Linden Labs bought recently, and which was founded by Emily Short and Richard Evans, “the lead AI designer on The Sims 3”. Both of them are long-time friends and colleagues of Humble’s.
He is much vaguer about the other two planned launches, saying that
certainly one fits very much in with virtual worlds, and the other one is kind of a unique, weird thing again that is even harder to describe – actually, it’s much harder to describe.
So, interesting times then. If there is synergy between the four then Second Life itself might benefit from renewed attention, and cross-pollination.
Let’s hope so.