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Microsoft May Buy Second Life Developer

By - Source: Tom's Hardware US | B 24 comments

Microsoft may bail out Linden Labs if rumors are true.

Thursday brought reports that Microsoft may have silently offered to purchase Second Life developer Linden Lab.

The news follows an additional report that Linden Lab is closing its UK office on Thursday, an unsurprising move given that the studio cut 30-percent of its staff back in June. To make matters worse, CEO Mark Kingdon walked away from his position two weeks later.

But according to a current Linden Lab employee, various companies have already offered to purchase the studio, Microsoft being the latest. Purchasing Linden Lab would be an interesting move for Microsoft, as the company could integrate Second Life into Xbox Live--possibly even Games for Windows Live--to offer a service similar to Sony’s PlayStation Home virtual environment on the PlayStation 3. Games for Windows Live support would mean that current residents could still enter the virtual world, but only through the stand-alone client.

Linden Lab launched Second Life for the PC back in June 2003. Unlike current MMORPGs, the virtual world offered no quests to fulfill, no characters to level, and didn’t even offer a compelling story. Instead, it was more of a 3D social environment allowing users to create virtual goods and sell their items for real-world cash. Today Second Life is used as both a virtual advertising platform and a way of life for many entrepreneurs.

But if Microsoft were to purchase Linden Lab and take the reigns of Second Life, all that revenue could be gone, possibly converted to Microsoft Points. For now, Microsoft is refusing to comment on rumor.

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  • 2 Hide
    Anonymous , September 30, 2010 9:59 PM
    Mass exodus coming up!!

    Personally, i would rather grind for hours than go near second life!!
  • -5 Hide
    Anonymous , September 30, 2010 10:32 PM
    The article is so full of fail. You've been 4chan'd.
  • 9 Hide
    freename , September 30, 2010 10:43 PM
    moriconMass exodus coming up!!Personally, i would rather grind for hours than go near second life!!


    Mass exodus? You mean the 23 people that play second life will leave?
  • 0 Hide
    rooket , September 30, 2010 11:09 PM
    I wonder what armageddon would be like in second life :) 

    Imvu is vastly more popular. Both programs will suck the life out of any human being.
  • 3 Hide
    BulkZerker , September 30, 2010 11:11 PM
    All the furries will not be amused!
  • 3 Hide
    wizard gynoid , September 30, 2010 11:14 PM
    the source of this rumor is a twitter user named @tizzer. this is a notorious second life griefer whose sim and avatar were permanently banned by Linden Lab. this user was also at one time partnered to one of the main characters in the recent second life scandal Emeraldgate.
  • 3 Hide
    wizard gynoid , September 30, 2010 11:15 PM
    sorry, that's @tizzers
  • 7 Hide
    jhansonxi , September 30, 2010 11:27 PM
    wizard gynoidthe source of this rumor is a twitter user named @tizzer. this is a notorious second life griefer whose sim and avatar were permanently banned by Linden Lab. this user was also at one time partnered to one of the main characters in the recent second life scandal Emeraldgate.
    Quit ruining the speculation with facts.
  • 1 Hide
    braneman , September 30, 2010 11:42 PM
    Microsoft can do a good job on something provided they concentrate on the core of the matter and leave the rest to 3rd party dev's, windows 7 is a great example of this, windows live is a great example of how not to do it. I really don't have much to say about second life however.
  • 1 Hide
    Darkerson , September 30, 2010 11:51 PM
    Kind of unexpected, but whatever floats MS's boat I guess. I tried to play SL a couple times, but I usually got bored and went back and played WoW or something else.
  • 1 Hide
    earth primbee , September 30, 2010 11:54 PM
    Quite an interesting story. For the posters that only hear about second life through mainstream media I have to say sl is alive and well and continues have tens of thousands of people online at given time and hundreds of thousands of frequent users. The people that figured out how to benefit the community continue to prosper and innovate.

    I can't speak to other worlds but I did want to give a perspective from someone who still finds it a great platform for reaching out to the world with creativity.

    As for microsoft buying it, who knows. It certainly would not be a bad investment if they learned it's true potential and fostered that.
  • 4 Hide
    Anonymous , October 1, 2010 12:53 AM
    It would be an interesting development, if true. The code idea behind SecondLife seems to be very marketable, as shown by the success the platform has managed despite the poor presentation, tool set development and marketing by Linden Lab.

    Providing a proper new user orientation, professional quality art assets for the default/starter items, and proper search and social tools and I would be shocked if it weren't a huge success.

    Of course, on the other side of the coin, every attempt at an SL competitor has had limited or no user created content options, which is the biggest reason they all fail. If this purchase did happen and MS limited or removed the content creation aspects, it would be disastrous for the platform.
  • -1 Hide
    eddieroolz , October 1, 2010 12:58 AM
    I've never heard of this game Second Life before, so it makes no difference to me really.
  • 3 Hide
    Anonymous , October 1, 2010 1:10 AM
    Your source on this story is not a former Linden Lab employee. The source you are citing is a college student who was banned from Second Life several years ago for stalking another user, obtaining his address, and driving to his home to harass him over an argument in a video game.

    But yeah, I'm sure he's a very credible source. I'm sorry that you were conned, but the next time you want to write a story about a potential acquisition involving hundreds of millions or billions of dollars, it might be worth the five minutes it takes to check your source first.
  • 3 Hide
    maigo , October 1, 2010 2:14 AM
    M$ will ban furry & sex and will lose ever DIME it spent on LL in 30 seconds
  • 0 Hide
    dEAne , October 1, 2010 2:48 AM
    That's a big plus for microsoft.
  • 0 Hide
    Sinsation Station , October 1, 2010 9:46 AM
    I wonder if the XBox Live avatar´s will subsist on Second Life´s atmosphere.

    Maybe we have to prepare them with some crazy spacesuit from Xbox´s marketplace.
  • 2 Hide
    Gwyneth Llewelyn , October 1, 2010 10:08 AM
    I think that the rumour's source is totally unreliable, but it's credible to believe that Linden Lab has received proposals for acquisition.

    With the economic downturn, it's not unlikely that companies start rethinking their acquisition strategy: instead of buying "ideas" with lots of media splash and high number of users, but no valid business model except burning venture capital (like, for example, Facebook... still not profitable after almost a decade but incredibly hyped on the media because of the half-a-billion free accounts that have registered), they might start to focus on profitable companies that have turned out a valid business model that gives them a regular income and nice profits every year.

    Linden Lab exhausted their venture capital funding in 2003, and since 2005 at least, they're a profitable company. Every year they have profits enough to pay 4-5 times what has been invested in them. The virtual economy of Second Life is worth US$ 0.6 billion and grows every year far above the poor "real" economy. As a company and as a product, Linden Lab/Second Life is certainly "interesting" for a potential buyer who is not after big media splash but a solid business model that pours out money to its investors.

    So the rumour might be true — specially the more wider rumour that Linden Lab is accepting to enter into negotiations wtith any company interested to acquire them; Microsoft would just be one of them — but we won't know for sure. If it's true, both companies will be under a NDA until due diligence is completed, and only after that each company might announce anything. Until then, there will be utter media silence — from both sides.
  • 1 Hide
    kronos_cornelius , October 1, 2010 10:21 AM
    Second life is a great idea poorly implemented. I don't see Microsoft buying a company with such a big open source, open standard portfolio. The bad news for Linden Labs is that there are other products that offer better quality of what they are providing so think they may not have any valuable assets left. Their graphics still look from 2003 the last time I checked Second Life, which was about 6 months ago. NPR's Science Friday center looks nice, but there are not enough polygons to raise the platform to modern standards. And then the controls terrible compared to FPS. And finally, there are way too many buttons, fields, and options. If that discourage me who tries out any thing remotely futuristic, no wonder it did not attract the public in general.

    HTML5 and 3D direct from the browser will have a better chance at creating what Linden Labs was trying to do last decade.
  • 0 Hide
    randomizer , October 1, 2010 11:25 AM
    Imagine the fail of Second Life combined with the fail of Games for Windows Live. Such a colossal amount of fail in one place could form a black hole. Good thing it's not a credible rumour.
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