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Second Life Global Provider Program troubled?

Tateru Nino

Back in 2007, Linden Lab formed regional partnerships with companies to operate localized portals for the Second Life platform, called the Global Provider Program (also sometimes referred to by the Lab as the Gold Provider Program, though distinct from the Gold Solution Provider Program). Linden Lab identified three non-English regional markets that it felt were priorities for support and localization: Brazil, Korea and Germany.

The first of the providers was Kaizen Games in Brazil, followed by Barunson Games (then called T-Entertainment) in Korea in October 2007. Bokowsky and Laymann might constitute a third partner in this program for Germany, but the the actual arrangement there isn't very clear.

Earlier this year in March, Kaizen Games quietly terminated its participation in the Global Provider Program, though it retains Mainland.Brasil, the themed estate which it operated as a part of the program.

This month news comes down that Linden Lab let its contract with Barunson Games/T-Entertainment in Korea lapse without renewal in October 2008, having apparently changed its mind about Korea being a top priority for localization, and that Barunson Games has given up after 12 months of trying to negotiate a new deal.

"Korea is not one of our immediate priorities for localization," a spokesperson for the Lab told us late last week. Barunson Games told the Korean press that Linden Lab had "stopped providing Second Life in Korean and closed the Korean language site and directed traffic to the English-language site" prior to the cessation of the contract in 2008.

Despite the Web-site having been more recently revamped, the new format Web-site doesn't have Korean localization. Linden Lab says that it hopes to have that present in future. Korean language support in the Second Life viewer remains in beta.

Barunson reports that they attempted to renew their Global Provider Program deal with Linden Lab for one year without success. Presumably the arrangement held enough value to justify that effort.

The Sera Korea estate in Second Life will apparently continue to exist, but it is not clear at this time who is going to be maintaining it. Linden Lab estimates there to be only 3,000 Korean Second Life users at present, and Korea Herald writer Choi He-suk observes that local users prefer a far different online experience to that which Second Life provides with its open-ended usage and unmanaged activities.

Aside from the unclear arrangement with Bokowsky and Laymann in Germany, there may be no Global Provider Program members left.

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