In a move that will no doubt perplex, flummox and befuddle many media commentators and technology columnists who erroneously believed that Second Life was a Web 2.0 social networking tool, Linden Lab has acquired social networking site, Avatars United (and developers of same, Enemy Unknown AB). This also has the side-effect of shooting down any semblance of Wallace Linden's identity piece last week being an overture of a conversation, instead making it look like the usual introduction to a Linden Lab fait accompli.
We've written about Avatars United on a couple of previous occasions, but never really had much call to get involved ourselves. The social networking tool includes a large number of MMOGs and non-game virtual environments, being best known for it's strong application support of open-ended space-based MMOG, EVE Online.
We've certainly been thinking for a while that Linden Lab had an acquisition up its collective sleeve, and we don't think this will be the only acquisition the cash-rich Second Life operator will make this year.
Aside from predictable grumbling about Wallace Linden, reaction has mostly broken down into the usual three camps. One that feels that it is an exciting move forward, one that believes that it is the work of dark and evil forces, and the largest group whose reaction seems to be 'meh' (perhaps tinged with a little curiosity on the side).
The Avatars United Web-site collapsed under the strain in the wake of the announcement as many hundreds of Second Life users swamped site-registration in order to see what all the fuss was about. Whether that turns into any long-term commitment is hard to predict at this stage, given that there's still exactly zero integration between Avatars United and Second Life (you can create a whole bunch of M Linden accounts, for example).
Currently the most common criticism revolves around the linking of accounts. Each and every time you add an alt account (for Second Life or for any other service) under your master account, you need to opt-out of sharing that information if you don't want the connection advertised.
So, in short, we have an acquisition by Linden Lab of a service that might become exciting, depending on what is done with it, accompanied by the usual poor standard of near-last-minute panic-inducing expectation management. Job well done, and time for tea.
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