Update: Linden Lab sold Desura to Bad Juju Games on November 5th, 2014.
Alongside other quiet moves on the Lab’s part, such as Patterns appearing on Desura, then Versu getting some new titles, it seems Second Life has now also appeared on the Lab’s recently acquired digital distribution service.
Given the move to add Patterns to Desura, the arrival of Second Life isn’t that surprising. It’s more than likely been anticipated by most SL users since Desura was acquired in July.
The SL Desura page features the last promo video to have been produced / commissioned by the Lab (September 2012), which focuses strongly on the gameplay elements within the platform while touching on other aspects such as socialising and building. It’s not the strongest way to promote SL in some respects, given some of the images tend to play into stereotypes (the long zooms into bustlines, for example, suggestive of teenage oogling), but hey, SL is supposed to have seen a shift in demographics…
What is interesting about SL’s arrival on Desura is that it appears to have caused more people who use the service to wake up to the fact that it has been acquired by the Lab (announcements of the acquisition were somewhat muted elsewhere on the website at the time). Reactions to both the arrival of Second Life and the acquisition, visible in the comments on the SL page, have been mixed but swaying towards the negative.
Out of interest, I tried the download / install process using the Desura desktop service. It was fast, using a “local” mirrored site in the Netherlands, and handled both the download and initial installation of the viewer in a single pass.
The release version of the viewer is called Second Life Release Desura, and installs into a folder (under Windows at least) by that name. Interestingly, the viewer is built of a 3.6.5 code base, not the current 3.6.4. Once installed, the viewer fired-up – and had an oopsie with the media webkit failing.
Given SL has only recently arrived on Desura, I was a little surprised when clearing the error message left the screen displaying a mandatory update warning; perhaps this was to fix the webkit issue. I let the update complete, and the viewer restart … and was again confronted with the webkit failure message. As this doesn’t occur with any version of the viewer obtained directly from LL, I can only assume it is a problem within the Desura offering. Closing-down the viewer and restarting clears the message but even so, assuming others get the same warning, I can’t help but think it’s not the most confidence-building thing to see after a first-time install. Similarly, it’s a shame that the link on the update pop-up which supposedly offers more information (i.e. release notes) goes to a blank wiki page.
Once I had shut down and restarted, the viewer ran through the usual CREATE ACCOUNT / CONTINUE options. Out of curiosity, I created a throwaway account and logged-in to the new “Social Island” arrival points which are being tested, and landed on a stack of people’s heads – so it would appear a fair few are trying SL out (although not necessarily via Desura, admittedly). I didn’t go further than this, as I intend to take another look at the “new” new user islands in the future and perhaps update on my original report.
All-in-all, not a surprising move, although equally, one not without some rough edges which might cause irritation if seen by many. Whether this move is the final nail in the coffin of the Steam link-up (prematurely) announced almost a year ago remains to be seen.