10 Years of Second Life

Ten years have passed since the conspiracy started. But now, more than ever, it goes deeper and deeper. These days, we do not know any more who manipulates the Lindens and for what purposes. Content creators still make fortunes: from US$2-4,000 a month for a “small” merchant, to the peak of the sales pyramid, making that amount per week — sometimes, in a single event. A designer of collectible pets makes a million dollars a year from his scripts. The remaining land barons, also operating their money exchanges on top of selling land, own companies located in tax havens or countries with unpronounceable names.

Who does own Second Life today? Who gets all the money from avid shoppers, who will shell out US$100 over a weekend without blinking — and do it every weekend, just for fun — and there are thousands, perhaps tens of thousands of them logging in every day?

In its second decade of existence, Second Life’s inhabitants at the top of the pyramid are even more obscure than before. Long has gone the time when “opinion makers” would rule the Lindens. These days, commerce is king. And commerce has never been so profitable as today.

As mesh content slowly replaces everything we have seen in the past decade, and materials bring the SL renderer in the viewer up to the standards of the 21st century, residents dump all their old, outdated content, and buy everything from scratch. Never, as before, has content sales boomed as they boom today. Money is exchanged as never before. Still, it all happens under the hood. Nobody knows how much money is really exchanged. Nobody knows who gets it all. Nobody knows how Linden Lab will manage to keep everything working smoothly to deal with the growing economy, now that land sales are not bringing the income they did to LL before.

It’s a different world out there this decade: a world where you are is less important than how you look. Will Linden Lab be able to cope with the change? Will we see a “sales tax” on content replacing tier on land? Only a few know the answer; and they are silent.

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