Contrary to what one might think, Second Life is more alive than ever. What many consider to be the “original metaverse” will be 20 years old in June and its developers intend to celebrate it in a big way. Is that Linden Lab announced that the platform will have a mobile versionand that his intention is to launch it in beta this year.
The news is curious for two reasons. First, because it ratifies the validity of Second Life, despite the fact that in recent years it has remained mostly a niche alternative. Second, because it is the first time in almost two decades that the virtual world will break the barrier of computers to reach mobile devices.
In a video posted on their official forum, Linden Lab provided some details on how they are working to bring Second Life to iOS and Android. The images that can be seen in the publication are certainly those of a work in progress; However, they stand out both for the quality achieved in the representation of the avatars and in the scenarios available to explore.
This is not a minor detail, considering that the developers themselves assured that the most problematic thing about bringing the platform to mobile phones was replicating the appearance and sensations of the characters and environments. As for the technical section, not much has been explained. It has only been said that Second Life for smartphones and tablets is being developed in Unitywhich simplifies the work and distribution on multiple devices.
Regarding navigation through the virtual world, the video shows that it is possible to see the surroundings by sliding your fingers on the touch screen. Although at the bottom they show five white dots that enable different types of interactions. In fact, to walk with the avatars a directional crosshead will appear, although the movement can be combined with the changes in perspective of the stage.
Second Life encouragement to make the leap to mobile devices
From Linden Lab they assure that they have tried to bring Second Life to mobile devices on previous occasions. However, this is the first time that they are really close to making it happen. For now, the company does not set specific deadlines to launch the virtual world on smartphones and tablets, although, as we already said, does expect to start beta testing this year.
For now, it is impossible to know if this new version will be successful. Or if, at least, it will achieve the impact expected by the developers. At the beginning of this article we mentioned that Second Life it has known how to stay current despite being a niche alternative; which does not mean that it is an unpopulated platform, far from it. In 2013, its community was estimated at one million regular users; while in 2020, in the midst of the pandemic, it continued to be around 900,000 per month.
It’s certainly a far cry from the tens of millions of accounts that have been created since the debut of Second Life. Even so, they are figures outrageously better than Horizon Worldsfrom Meta, which brings together less than 200,000 people per month and has a very poor retention rate.
It will be interesting to see what approach Linden Lab takes to the mobile version of Second Life. We can presume that the idea will be to give current users the possibility of taking their favorite virtual world everywhere, without being tied to a computer. Although for this it will be crucial that the platform allows sync progressno matter from which device it is accessed.
The big question is how much interest it can generate Second Life in potential new users. Will it be able to capture the attention of users who have not been attracted by proposals such as Horizon Worlds, decentraland and so many other metaverses? The questions could begin to be resolved once the first beta of the app is made available.