Second Life? What’s wrong with the one I have now?

So an article appeared on ClickZ.com talking about how Second Life has become rather routine and mundane when it comes to opening up a new shop or product to attract the masses. Basically here are some key thoughts from the article:

Marketers started jumping on that bandwagon over two years ago. If you haven’t already followed your fellow lemmings over that particular cliff, don’t. Second Life launches are a dime a dozen (CareerBuilder being the latest to tip over the precipice). These misguided corporate efforts to be cool and with it are beginning to hold all the appeal of your mother’s cringe-inducing attempt to friend your Facebook friends.

Now how is this turning out to be any different from what people did on Friendster? Once Myspace came around, they left Friendster…and once Facebook opened up, everyone left Myspace to join in on the growing community. Sure, Myspace and Facebook are EXTREMELY popular, but these are just the signs of the time of the next big thing. Unfortunately, it appears that the marketing department just doesn’t have the staying power in Second Life…and certain products may just not work in the virtual world.

Inhabitants of virtual worlds don’t have real-world needs. To get very far in Second Life, you do need money (in the form of Linden dollars) to buy goods, services, and property. No small quantity of the virtual currency is spent on goods and services related to virtual sex. Way-far-out-there virtual sex, and no small number of sex businesses (one of which recently changed hands for $50,000) often seem like the primary purpose of Second Life. As ClickZ columnist Ian Schafer told the “Los Angeles Times,” “One of the most frequently purchased items in Second Life is genitalia.”

My point exactly…

To further drive the point home, there was an article on the Pardon My French blog about the “backlash” that Second Life has received…the summary of it includes:

  • Starwood Hotels closing up its virtual hotel
  • Best Buy’s Geek Squad Island was empty
  • Dell Island was deserted
  • Sun Microsystem’s Island was blank
  • American Apparel’s store closed up shop
  • Of course casinos, brothels, and strip clubs were packed

Again, my point has been made…and reinforced by these articles…Second Life just doesn’t have staying power. Maybe it’s the type of product…albeit more porn and sex-related items are able to survive, but what about destinations? Has anyone managed to set up a destination “location” on Second Life?

Until the right marketer comes along and can sell a mainstream idea through Second Life, I’ll stick with the less virtual life, thank you very much. But I’ll always enjoy learning more about how I can be virtually reincarnated.

By Ken Yeung

Ken Yeung is a journalist fascinated with the stories of the tech industry and internet culture. He's currently the Technology Editor at Flipboard, where he observes what's happening in the space while also identifying new topics of interest. In addition, he co-hosts the weekly internet show "The Created Economy," which focuses on what's happening to creators and influencers. Previously, he was a reporter for VentureBeat and The Next Web, covering tech startups, the industry's innovations and funding. Ken also has a newsletter you should also subscribe to called "Filed."