“So little time, so much to do.”
In a recent blog post entitled, “5 Reasons Virtual Worlds Died” , Simon Newstead, the CEO of mobile games company, Frenzoo, paints a dismal picture of the slow decline in people’s participation in virtual worlds. He mentions the Second Life® environment by name and appears to be referring heavily to it in his list of criticism. And if not, he’s thinking in terms of the more “open, user-created” types of world, rather than the tightly constrained Halo® or Call of Duty® scenarios.
To summarize, he argues that virtual worlds have (a) no purpose or goals,
(b) no quick feedback, (c) no theme, (d) too much of a learning curve for newbies, and (d) the needs of players in these worlds can be met else-
This may be true of Second Life or OpenSim grids but according to figures published in 2012, the online gaming community is still pretty strong and generating a lot of cash. A report generated by the marketing and consult-
ing firm DFC Intelligence revealed that players of the game League of Legends logged over 1.3 billion hours of activity during the year, followed by a more modest – but still impressive – 600,000 hours logged by World
of Warcraft devotees.
|| LOGGED HOURS
|League of Legends
|World of Warcraft
|Heroes of Newerth
|World Of Tanks
|Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 3
|Source: DFC Intelligence Report, 2012.
Meanwhile, during the same period, blogger Daniel Voyager  noted a steady decline in the maximum number of people online in Second Life on a daily basis – the “concurrency level.” He also points out that the number of regions (land) has dropped from 31,078 in January, 2012 to 28,290 by December. Voyager suggests that people have been switching to the OpenSims grids, where the cost of doing business is lower. And the recent closing of third-party currency exchanges as a result of changes to Linden Lab’s Terms of Service is likely to depress the economy in Second Life as some merchants pull out due to difficulties in cashing out Linden dollars into their local currencies.
The idea that people are switching to the OpenSim environments is an example of another reason why virtual worlds may be declining; the sheer multiplicity of options. As more and more online environments become available, the more likely it is that people will explore those and possibly stay. In the short term, there will be winners and losers as people migrate from metaverse A to metaverse B, but this will only serve to spread people across the worlds and not necessarily increase the overall use of virtual worlds. Just like entropy in the real universe, there will be some local “heating and cooling” in particular spots in the entire virtual universe but ultimately there will be fewer and fewer people in more and more worlds to the point, potentially, where everyone can have his or her private world, waiting for visitors to stop by for a while.
Finally, there is another significant finite resource to consider: time. With only 24 hours in a day, spending 6 hours in Second Life means not spending it in any other place. And the more new options that appear, the less time is available to players/residents. Competition for time continues to grow as new forms of social media present themselves. Newstead makes a crucial point when he says that “needs can be met elsewhere” because people who use Second Life for social reasons can take part in much larger social spheres using Facebook, Twitter, and even Google Circles! And the ubiquity of text messaging is such that for many people under 25 the idea of being in constant SMS contact with your friends is as natural as breathing.
The phrase, “So little time; so much to do” has never sounded more appropriate.
 Newstead, S. (2013). 5 Reasons Why Virtual Worlds Died. Blog Post, May 12, 2013. http://iteratingfun.com/post/50274986215/reasons-virtual-worlds-died
 Voyager, D. (2012). Second Life user concurrency 2012 winter update. Blog post December 5, 2012. http://danielvoyager.wordpress.com/2012/12/05/second-life-user-concurrency-2012-winter-update