On Friday, April 20th, Linden Lab hosted two Town Hall meetings at which questions were put to the Lab’s CEO, Ebbe Altberg. Those wishing to ask questions were asked to submit them via the forum thread A Conversation with Linden Lab CEO Ebbe Altberg, although outside of the core meeting, Ebbe took time to answer questions from the audience present at the event.
Some 200 questions were asked, many of which were technical in nature. As many of the subjects of these questions were no things Ebbe could respond to directly, the decision was made to have the Lab’s subject matter experts address them directly through the forum thread itself after the Town Hall meetings, a process which may take several days to complete. So, if you did ask a technical question that wasn’t raised at either Town Hall event, be sure to check the thread to see if an answer in provided there.
The following is a transcript of the core questions and answers offered at both sessions, with audio extracts provided as reference.
- These notes don’t follow the chronological flow of the sessions, as I’ve attempted to group subjects by topic for more concise reference.
- Due to the nature of the event, some questions of a similar nature were asked at both sessions, which elicited very similar answers in each case. Where this is the case, I have generally provided the answer which – in my opinion, admittedly – offers the most information.
- Similarly, Ebbe’s opening comments at both events followed similar lines, so I have only provided a transcript of the remarks made at the first session.
- Questions are given in bold.
- The “back to summary” links will take you back to the blog post summary of the session, and can be used by those who prefer to “subject hop” rather than work their way through the entire transcript.
The Short Form
For those who prefer, the following is a bullet-point list of the core questions asked, gathered into the same topic headings as the transcript notes. Links are given to the relevant part of the full transcript for those who would prefer to read / listen to the complete answers / comments.
Note: due to the nature of WordPress internal text anchors and scrolling, you may have to scroll up a little after jumping to a specific topic, in order to see the question.
Opening Comments – First Session
- Linden Lab remains committed to Second Life, which is managed by a dedicated team covering Product, Engineering, Support, Marketing, etc. Jump to topic.
- The Lab remains focused on growth, for Second Life as much as Sansar; Sansar does not signal the end of Second Life, nor are there plans to “transition” SL users to Sansar.
- A lot of focus is on pivoting LL’s Second Life revenue generation away from a land-based model to one more balanced between land tier and other fees. Jump to topic.
- Major effect and investment in being put into moving all of Second Life to a cloud based infrastructure, which will hopefully bring benefits. This should be seen as a sign of commitment to SL. Jump to topic.
Revenue: Land, Fees, Subscriptions and Compliance
Note: this section includes answers to questions about upcoming US SEC regulation changes and the incoming EU GDPR, which were primarily responded to in terms of compliance data management.
- Land costs following the move to the cloud. – Land costs many not dramatically change, and revenue rebalancing has the potential to do more. Cloud benefits potentially more technical in nature, but may offer some fees benefits. Jump to topic.
- How can Linden Lab sustain itself on a free-to-play basis? – Free-to-play, revenue and subscriptions: Free-to-play accepted norm in the industry and not changing with Second Life. However, as part of a re-balancing of revenue generation, what can be done on a free-to-play basis versus what might be possible through subscription options is being considered. Jump to topic.
- Can you explain how LindeX and transaction fees are constantly increased with no perceived added benefit to users?
- Providing an economic model that globally allows people to pay money into it and withdraw money from it requires regulatory compliance a state, federal and global levels, and this costs.
- Increases in transaction fees, along with subscriptions, etc., may offer a means to reduce the cost of SL land.
- Jump to topic.
- What is the Lab’s policy on user data protection? – taken very serious, vis: compliance (above), LL does not participate in any business models that feature the use of user data. Jump to topic.
- Have you considered charging for additional accounts, say US $10 per account? – Not come up, will pass it on to the team.
- Are there going to be adjustments to Premium accounts? – Yes, and considerable work is being put into this by the Product team to determine the types of Premium account / subscriptions should be offered and what their individual benefits should be. Jump to topic.
- Will the changes to Premium accounts also see changes to how arrears are handled, e.g. not lock accounts out? – time is provided for people to catch up on payments. Jump to topic.
- Will any reduction in land fees apply to Skill Gaming regions? – in time, hopefully, yes. Jump to topic.
Technical / Project Questions
- Will there be updates to Lab-owned in-world infrastructure – InfoHubs, themed private regions, etc? – already in hand. Jump to topic.
- What are the plans for Second Life on Mobile? – It’s under discussion, but no firm plans, with a hope there might be a good business case to move in that direction. Jump to topic.
- Will the return of Last Names allow people to freely choose their last name, or will it be ‘choose from a list’?
- Also see my audio updates from Oz, Grumpity and Patch Linden on the return of Last Names – comments referencing that post are including in parentheses in the following bullet points).
- Pre-made list (but suggestions on last name options may be sought from the community to help with refreshing the list with new options).
- Will also be able to change your first name.
- Will involve a fee (in US $) and might be a Premium benefit.
- As a warning to creators: if you script items to identify avatars, don’t use names, use the avatar Agent Key.
- No time frame as yet on when it will be rolled out.
- Might be a Premium-only benefit; if available to all, Premium may have a specific advantage (TBD) over Basic.
- Jump to topic.
- When will Animesh Bakes on Mesh and Windlight EEP be available? – No precise dates, but Users actively involved in testing. Hopefully in the next couple of quarters. Jump to topic.
- Will the Teen Grid ever come back? – Not being discussed. Probably better to work on ensuring proper controls in place to allow people to use the one grid. Jump to topic.
- What is the Lab’s commitment to the open source project? No change. Can’t really take it back and wouldn’t want to due to TPV synergy. Jump to topic.
- Will any features from Sansar be back-ported to Second Life, such as the rendering engine or Marvelous Designer support? – rendering engine, no. Marvelous Designer support – possibly a question for the Second Life team. Jump to topic.
- Will my.secondlife.com [Profile feeds] be improved to help make connections a-la Facebook? – connections and building communities are important, but whether my.secondlife.com is a part of that is unclear, as there are other potential channels. Jump to topic.
- Would it be possible to spin-up a second instance of a region being rebooted, and transfer avatars to it and maintain traffic, rather than forcing them to teleport elsewhere / log off, and then letting the original just shut down? Jump to topic.
- When is Second Life going to be optimised to run well on high-end client systems with good Internet connections and graphics? Jump to topic.
New Users and the On-boarding Process
- Is Linden Lab planning to advertise Second Life to attract new customers and keep the population size healthy and sustainable? – this is a constant effort, and the Lab is investing time, effort and money into the entire end-to-end on-boarding process to not only maintain, but to hopefully grow, SL’s user base. Jump to topic.
- What are Linden Lab’s plans to bring-in new users and incentivise past users to return? – partially answered above, plus the improvements to the platform, the content users continue to make, etc. Jump to topic.
- What is the Lab’s view on adult content and the future of adult content? – No change. Jump to topic.
- Will there be more sessions like the Town Hall or like Lab Chat after SL15B? – There are in-world technical meetings, but the hope is to have more general in-world meetings and discussions going forward. Jump to topic.
- How do you compare the Oasis [from Ready Player One] as an educational place with Second Life? – Second Life is probably the closest to the Oasis in the world today and has a broad range of uses and involvement which is inspiring. Jump to topic.
- Do you see Second Life lasting for another fifteen years? – Yes; Second Life is still successful on many levels, so why not keep it going?
- Can you give a positioning statement between Sansar and Second Life? – two products with some similarities, but also significant differences, each managed by a separate teams. Jump to topic.
- What have you found to be the biggest challenges for Second Life with regards to your planned vision, and how are you overcoming those challenges? Jump to topic.