Today, I was asked the question “Is Second Life in trouble? Aren’t they going through a rough time?” The answer is no, change happens. Yes there is a new CEO (congratulations Mark Kingdon and welcome), but all of the remaining peices of Linden Lab (outside of one CTO named Corey) is intact. Change happens, especially in the online virtual world, so a virtual world closing is not really huge news. One ran by a huge company such as EA that was one of the first major social MMO’s success story is huge news. Today EA announced that it is closing EA-Land/The Sims Online in August 2008.
The Sims Online is only but a year older than Second Life. Comparing the two begins and ends with it’s social aspects, you can make new friends, play games and chat to other people. The Sims Online does not allow for the sort of creativity the Second Life has or even the potential to create your own business. While much can be read into The Sims Online closing it speaks volumes to many things, first that of how independent and robust the platform of Second Life is but mainly to the direction of other Social MMO’s. TSO is not a platform, purely meant for entertainment and like entertainment it has an expiration date. Those in the MMORPG world understand this phenomenon of servers and services closing; it is the consequence of pre-generated, content specific, worlds that while are entertaining are replaceable in due time. With many platform or brand specific MMO’s in the works or in development following the same model of TSO (whom was a shining light in the social MMO market), I wonder how many more worlds will expire before their projected expiration date.
This is not to say that The Sims Online did not achieve a lot, it’s efforts and ideas must be commended, it was the first widely successful social MMO for mass consumption. I’m positive, sooner than later there will be more stories like The Sims Online will occur opposed to that of, say, Second Life.