Commercial Gold Rush in Second Life

October 19, 2006

A critical mass seems to have been reached over the past six months with regards to the popular online 3D social networking platform, Second Life. Having passed through the initial word of mouth/blogosphere zone, the SL meme now makes regular appearances in mainstream magazines and newspapers from Wired to The Guardian. All this attention has solidified the virtual world’s place at the forefront of what SL “residents” sometimes refer to as “the 3D web.” In what might be the most impressive stamp of approval to date, the Reuters news agency has gone so far as to set up a bureau inside the game. As Richard Siklos notes in today’s New York Times, a mini gold rush is on amongst large media companies to establish themselves within Linden’s virtual economy:

…now, the budding fake world is not only attracting a lot more people, it is taking on a real world twist: big business interests are intruding on digital utopia. The Second Life online service is fast becoming a three-dimensional test bed for corporate marketers, including Sony BMG Music Entertainment, Sun Microsystems, Nissan, Adidas/Reebok, Toyota and Starwood Hotels.

The sudden rush of real companies into so-called virtual worlds mirrors the evolution of the Internet itself, which moved beyond an educational and research network in the 1990’s to become a commercial proposition — but not without complaints from some quarters that the medium’s purity would be lost. (New York Times)

See also my earlier posts, Realtime Performance in Second Life, and Second Life: First Impressions.

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