At this week’s Star Trek Mission Log Live event, something was nagging me in the back of my mind while I was mingling and chatting with the other people present, and watching the broadcast.
It was the thought that this event, as fun as it was, was probably not getting the attention—or the audience—that Linden Lab was hoping for. The number of people present was less than 30, if I remember correctly. (I must confess that I got bored, and I left the event early, before the podcast hosts showed up in Sansar’s recreation of the bridge from the original Star Trek.)
And the deal to set up game-watching experiences within Sansar for the Overwatch League appears to have fallen through. Wagner James Au of the blog New World Notes was the first to report the bad news:
Thanks to a sharp reader, I just noted a belated (and curious) update to the original VentureBeat post announcing the Overwatch team partnership:
Update: Sansar does not have a formal partnership with the teams or the Overwatch League. Sansar conducted preliminary discussions with the San Francisco Shock and Houston Outlaws to create VR watch spaces, but the previously announced activities are not moving forward at this time as there was a misunderstanding.
Hat tip: Wurfi. Apparently something fell apart after the press release was published…
In the same blogpost, Wagner notes that user concurrency figures for Sansar have only gone up very slightly from before, citing the statistics that Gindipple keeps:
At best we can probably say there’s been a very small growth in usage since these gamer outreaches. I’m personally surprised by this, because I expected growth of at least a few hundred. That may still happen if the gamer personalities do more to ramp their fans into Sansar, but so far, sadly, that’s not happening.
I’ve also had some misgivings about Linden Lab’s deal with UmiNoKaiju, which I doubt has had much impact so far on user concurrency figures, either. And the Ready Player One movie tie-in did little to nothing to attract new users, from what I can tell.
So, what is it going to take to get people to come visit Sansar? I honestly don’t know. I wish I knew. Frankly, I am starting to get worried. I’ve already been prodding Linden Lab to think outside the box in terms of promoting Sansar. But I don’t have any new ideas myself as to how they should go about doing what appears to be an increasingly difficult task: attracting new users to Sansar and keeping them coming back for more.
And I worry: what happens, if another year goes by and the user concurrency figures for Sansar have not budged? Will Linden Lab decide to pull the plug, and refocus on Second Life, which is the cash cow that is currently funding Sansar’s development? How long will Linden Lab continue to plough money into a project with (so far) limited success? Is there some future date in Ebbe Altberg’s mind when, if usage figures do not improve, he’s going to cease development on Sansar, some point where he decides that he’s simply throwing good money after bad? The thought terrifies me.
There’s a small, but highly active and engaged user community already in Sansar, which is a joy and a delight to me. But it doesn’t seem to me that we are attracting a lot of new people to Sansar events and experiences. Yes, there’s usually one or two new faces every Saturday at Atlas Hopping. But so far, there hasn’t been a flood of new users, despite efforts to create engaging new in-world games like the Combat Zone and HoverDerby.
We might—just maybe—have to steel ourselves to the possibility that Sansar will not be a success on the same level as Second Life. And that’s a highly unpleasant thought to me.
What do you think? Please sound off in the comments…let me know what you think.
UPDATE May 25th: I cross-posted this blogpost to various VR-themed groups on Facebook, and I got quite a few comments back. Summarized, they fall into three broad categories:
- Make Sansar available via Steam or Oculus Home: “How about starting by putting it in a store people actually shop at, like Steam or Oculus for one. Many probably don’t know it exists or what it is.”
- Make Sansar run faster/better: “It takes forever to download a world, and half the time it either crashes or just says it can’t join while loading. They need to fix those bugs.”
- Allow adult content: “Adult content. That’s the only way it’ll have a shot. SL would’ve been 6 feet under years ago without the adult stuff.”
2nd UPDATE, May 25th 3:37 p.m.: Ebbe Altberg, CEO of Linden Lab, left this comment on the official Sansar Discord channel:
And, we are still in beta. We are trying things with various partners and learn and iterate. We are not yet piling on for growth. But each revolution things get better. But we also discover issues and iterate again.