Nearly two decades before Facebook and others were talking about the metaverse, Second Life was letting millions of users partake in virtual worlds. Now, all this time later, developer Linden Labs has announced that it's developing a mobile version of the game, Ars Technica has reported. A beta version is expected to launch later this year.
In a YouTube video posted to Second Life's community forum, the publisher revealed some details about the mobile app. It's being built using Unity to make it easy to build and distribute the game on both iOS and Android phones/tablets. It also shows footage of characters and environments, and describes how Linden Labs will try to make it as much like the desktop game as possible.
Facebook has struggled to get the metaverse off the ground, but over 73 million accounts have been created for Second Life to date, and the number of active users hit 900,000 during the pandemic — 17 years after the game launched. Typical virtual events include "live music performances, shopping fairs, fan fiction conventions, book and poetry readings, academic lectures, fashion shows, and art exhibitions," the company told Vice in 2020.
Linden Labs had been working on a VR version of the game called Sansar, but ended up stopping development and selling off the rights in 2020. The company said it did so to become "cash-positive," while noting that VR headset adoption didn't come as fast as it hoped. To that end, a pivot to mobile makes sense, but it remains to be seen if people will still be interested in Second Life after all this time.