Lab seeking a “plan B” to secure Sansar’s future

Courtesy of Linden Lab

During the Friday, February 21st live stream of Lab Gab, Linden Lab CEO Ebbe Altberg gave what may amount to the first fully public statement on the future of the Lab’s social VR platform, Sansar.

Speaking at the top of the programme, he stated:

Yeah, so as you might have heard, sadly we have decided that we, as Linden Lab, couldn’t continue to sponsor the project financially, so we’re looking for a plan B for Sansar to continue. I can’t say much, but we’re having very interesting conversations with several parties to help that project move forward, which I’m really excited about. But no deal is done yet, so people will just have to be patient and see what happens with it, but yes  it is true that Linden Lab going forward will focus entirely on Second Life and Tilia. I’m still busy making sure that Sansar finds a great home and that the great work that that team has started can continue.

So that’s where things are at. Hopefully, we can be more specific on what’s going on in the next couple of weeks or so. So lots of conversations going on.

The statement confirms belief that, following the recent lay-offs of staff working on the platform, that Linden Lab is looking for a new home / a new means to continue Sansar. Whether this means the Lab is looking to sell the platform entirely, or looking for a company to partner with them in order to allow development of Sansar to continue, was not made clear – although the former appears to be more likely.

Also in commenting on Sansar, Ebbe also referenced the “heavy hitters” who have returned to Second Life, laying to rest the unfounded rumour that perhaps Philip Rosedale had returned (Philip is still very much engaged with High Fidelity as a company), and instead appeared to pointtowards the long-term Lindens Whirly Fizzle and I have previously pointed to (see: Linden Lab provide statement on SL in the wake of Sansar lay-offs) – for example: Maestro, Monty and Runitai Linden.

You can hear Ebbe’s comments on Sansar’s future in the audio clip below, and in the Lab Gab video, including his remarks vis. the returning “heavy hitters” and his relationship with Philip Rosedale.

In the meantime, Sansar does still remain open for users, community events continue to be added to the events calendar and experiences remain open for people to visit.

9 thoughts on “Lab seeking a “plan B” to secure Sansar’s future

  1. I recall when SL v2.0 was rumored. We actually got excited. A potential fix for all the woes of SL and the architecture that was weirdly designed and seemingly not able to do what it was intended.

    When Sansar arrived most SL users that I know were massively disappointed. We didn’t want VR, we didn’t want a new unconnected world that didn’t really offer anything that SL didn’t have already. Many of us tried Sansar. We went, we looked, and we came back. Sure, some people and groups created wonderful content. But if you learn anything in SL, is that creating wonderful content does not guarantee you success.

    LL then seemed to acknowledge that Sansar was not a SL v2.0 and it was not aimed at SL users, so the two platforms would co-exist…. But, most of the resources would got to Sansar. Developers and money. Who decided that I wonder? Not someone who knew much about SL, but someone who had the notion that VR was somehow the way to go.

    I see Facebook is going ahead with Horizon, which seems to be doing what LL wanted to do with Sansar. It’s a toon world it seems. And may appeal to some, not others.

    SL for many is a Second Life. They exist in it. Some others may ridicule that, but I understand why people devote time and effort to SL where you do what you want and however you want to do it. Not to be forced to wear ungainly goggles, or to be forced to voice when you prefer not to. We want to simulate realism in our own way. We want the world to be seamlessly connected, functional, social and fun.

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    1. Sansar was never seen by LL as “SL 2.0”, although back in the earliest days, there was talk of the two platforms perhaps having some form of linkage. However, from the very earliest days, through events like VWBPE and other public appearances well before any users set foot inside “Project Sansar” (as it was then), Ebbe Altberg went to great lengths to stress it was entirely separate from SL, would not support any kind of backwards compatibility with SL – and, specifically of relevance here – nor was it being targeted as being for SL users, who would be free to decide whether or not they wanted to use it once the doors had opened – points he continued to stress right throughout the closed Alpha period, when those of us able to access the platform were under NDA.

      Really, Sansar’s fault is not that it “failed” as any kind of “SL 2.0”, but more a combination that a) and as I’ve previously noted, it was pushed far too early it its life cycle as a result of a buying into the highly speculative and unsubstantiated claims around how “big” the VR market would be in relatively short order (e.g. worth US $70 billion a year by 2020), and b) – being frank – what appears to be an apparent failure to adequately market the platform within markets where it could have the potential to be a leader, and where there have been emerging needs for VR and VR environments.

      Those markets do still exist, and will more than likely grow as VR does find its footing and gains wider acceptance among prospective user groups. The real question is: how will they be served? Right now, there is nothing I’ve seen that really comes come to the all-round potential offered by Sansar. Perhaps it might yet be Sansar even if sold. Perhaps it might come to be SL or a more direct derivative of SL, depending on how VR technology continues to develop, and how SL environments and the UGC within them can be better optimised to more fully support VR headsets.


  2. Before any concrete info was released, there was the rumor. Maybe LL knew the plan as well as some insiders, but the SL user-base only assumed it was SL v2.0. We were all worried about transferring our inventories and stuff. But its obvious that LL didn’t really use a SL model to create Sansar. And they didn’t really consult with the biggest base of virtual world users. A pity, as they could have maybe saved a dollar or two. Ironic that they now put it out there that they are looking for suggestions on what to do.

    We all wanted – and still do want – a better SL.

    Cut the losses; sell what can be sold to Facebook; concentrate on SL; make sims smoother; connect the world; get rid of defunct junk and be slightly less corporate about it all, and a little more social.

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    1. “Before any concrete info was released, there was the rumor. ” – yes a rumour, started by users (I was actually present at the moment it started, in June 2014 at a TPV Developer meeting) – but also a rumour LL immediately worked to try to dispel, long before any users saw inside Sansar, rather than only doing so *after* users had seen Sansar, as per your original comment.

      As to whether or not SL users should have been consulted – that point is really moot, given a) Sansar was never intended to be any kind of “SL 2.0” – or even seen as a “virtual world” by LL – again, from the outset they were at pains to emphasise (rightly or wrongly, it can be argued) that Sansar was *not* a “virtual world”, but a platform for individual VR-centric experiences designed to exist independently of one another – and as such, was being geared to a different audience that might include *some* SL users; b) it is not unfair to say you can ask the opinion of any collective of SL users (or any other group of invested users) over what “should” or “shouldn’t” be done, and receive such a plethora conflicting answers, they render the original question pointless.

      In the interim, SL has continued to be enhanced and developed, and while it might be argued that less spent on Sansar might have meant more spent on SL, that argument carries limited weight, simply because as a general rule there is only so much money / manpower that can be thrown at project before people start tripping over one another. What we can hope is that the re-alignments that have taken place in the wake of Sansar development ceasing have allowed Ll to re-balance resources in those areas where it does make sense to bring in additional hands / eyes / minds.


    2. Cut the losses; sell what can be sold to Facebook; concentrate on SL; make sims smoother; connect the world; get rid of defunct junk and be slightly less corporate about it all, and a little more social.

      I’d agree a 100% with that (perhaps just adding: ‘… and spend some resources on a “light” version that works on an iPad/Android tablet…’). Sure, this is what LL ought to have done back in 2014. But we all know that LL is stubborn and will only learn after they make their mistakes; also, their modus operandi of never having an exit strategy for when things don’t work as expected (which is what happens so often outside the success story of Second Life) really needs to be changed…
      LL is slowly turning into the ‘Google of virtual worlds’: they can do one thing right (SL in the case of LL; ads in the case of Google), but everything else they create and attempt to market invariably fails, which is not a good long-term solution when the ‘cash cow’ is slowly making less money. Sure, as long as they get some money from their ‘cash cow’ (millions in the case of LL, billions in the case of Google), they can still continue to do their experiments, but
      Oh, and good luck to Facebook’s Horizon (mostly because there are so many former Lindens working there, who are very nice and decent people, and deserve a good life). Because I don’t own an Oculus thingy, I guess I’ll be left out of it — and so will several millions of potential users. I wonder if we’ll be here in 2026 discussing the many ways in which Horizon had all the signs of failing right from the beginning, and if the former Lindens working now for Facebook/Oculus/Horizon will come back to their alma mater in San Francisco…


      1. “I’d agree a 100% with that (perhaps just adding: ‘… and spend some resources on a “light” version that works on an iPad/Android tablet…’).”

        Just a point of reference – LL are working on an iOS companion app, and have been for some time; a closed alpha could be starting in the next month or so, and plans are to port to Android in the future. That said, where any “companion” app is concerned, perhaps an easier path might have been to go the web browser route, making the solution completely OS / device agnostic. Rather like Speedlight is now doing.


  3. This announced hype on VR is never happened for now, so is sign of a solid company say we tried but it doesn’t work for now, we can’t spend any more money on this project. And LL have for sure in mind this cloud shift for SL, that i think is real heavy work to do fast. This shift will surely bring big profits to LL, which is a company and not a charity.
    I don’t see anything strange in wanting to push this branch, especially if it really will happen by the end of 2020 and put in standby Sansar.

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