Think Second Life died? It has a higher GDP than some countries

Think Second Life died? It has a higher GDP than some countries

3D virtual world Second Life used to be hyped up as the future of internet communication but now it’s more commonly thought of as an example of overbaked optimism about what’s next in tech.

That said, the 12-year-old service is still going strong with 900,000 monthly active users, not much lower than its peak userbase of 1.1 million several years ago. Now it could be set to make a comeback thanks to virtual reality.

At the Web Summit in Dublin this week, I met Ebbe Altberg, CEO of Second Life creator Linden Lab. He talked about:

  • The thriving economy that still exists in Second Life, with some users making a living from creating accessories. Altberg says that it has a GDP of around $500 million, and users cashed out a total in excess of $60 million last year. One user has sold around 300,000 virtual dresses at roughly $4 each.
  • Project Sansar, Linden Lab’s ‘WordPress for virtual reality,’ which is due to launch next year. Although drawing on learnings from Second Life, this will be a brand new platform sitting alongside the original.
  • The technology Linden Lab is working on to help ensure money laundering and illegal gambling don’t take place in its properties. Second Life has had to deal with users’ attempts to run casinos on the platform, for example.

Fun fact: with a reported GDP of $500 million, that’s higher than Tonga and a number of other small countries.

You can listen to the full interview below.

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