Changing the virtual world software to open source is a significant turning point in strategy.
Second Life is not a game – it is a social, interactive, 3D version of the Internet. It has so far been developed and hosted by Linden Lab, but the vision for the future of Second Life requires more resources to realize than any one company can provide. In this talk from the O’Reilly Open Source Convention, Phillip Rosedale, CEO and Founder of Linden Lab, describes how their plans to open source their code will help the Second Life experience, and strengthen Linden Lab’s business position.
Virtual worlds, like many other internet businesses, rely on network effects for competitive advantage – the more users a service has, the more valuable it is. Because the service with the most users wins, the best competitive practice is to make your application and code free and open. Linden Lab is following this strategy; they have already released their client code and are preparing to release their server code as well. They hope to gain improved hosting options for portions of the virtual world, new kinds of clients, and more resources for bug fixing. Despite not having a robust system to handle community contributions, they have had a positive experience and have already received code fixes and patches.