The WWF is a year or two behind on the “Second Life is cool” curve and have built Conservation Island. My favorite snarkblog Valleywag has been crowing about the virtual wasteland that Second Life is for RL (real life) marketers for years and others are starting to pick it up.
For those not in the know, Second Life is a virtual world that gives its residents incredible freedom, but at the cost of a clunky user interface and high learning curve. It took me about 5 hours of in world time to ‘get’ how cool Second Life was when I start playing a few years ago and it held my attention for a few months, but then I got bored with the lack of real community, slow loads, and lack of anything really fun to do.
So now the World Wildlife Fund has wasted a bunch of cash building Conservation Island, where you can chat with a virtual panda or elephant about how important it is to save the world.
What a big fat waste of money.
You used to be able to generate a far amount of real world buzz by getting into Second Life. All sorts of big brands took the plunge- American Apparel, Starwood Hotels, Adidas, and even Coldwell Banker. All have failed to come close to what any sane person would call being a success. Just about all of them were launched with great fanfare and then abandoned. Second Life’s technical architecture is not friendly to large gatherings of people (more than 40 in one place is a problem) and the vast majority of Second Life’s population stick to their home land and established in-world brands.
So the WWF probably spent ~$20k on their new presence plus the $1,500 a month in island maintenance for what- a few mentions on green blogs? No one is going to go to Conservation Island. It’ll be shut down within the next six months (unless they were dumb enough to sign a longer contract with their developer Enable Interactive).
Via My Green Element
Update: Check out this great walk through of Conservation Island by an in world SL writer. It’s a great read and goes into detail about why WWF’s is a stinker.
Update 2: For some unknown technical reason, one of the comments made below isn’t show up. It’s a good one and I’m tired of trying to get it to show in comments, so I’ll just paste it in here for your reading.
“and even Coldwell Banker. All have failed to come close to what any sane person would call being a success.”
While I can’t speak with first hand knowledge about the other corporations in SL that were mentioned in the above article, I can say for Coldwell Banker’s case, it was a success by far exceeded expectations.
– Generated thousands of in-world relationships and fostered good will by providing low-cost virtual land for sale and rental.
– While neither of Coldwell Banker’s two currently running projects in SL put them in the black from land sales and retals, as this was never a goal, the rental communities and land sales do contribute greatly in defraying land tier and operating costs.
– Initial project returned, and continues to return, a significant ROI from real-world and in-world media publicity and branding by distributed advertising in over 1000 sims creating hundreds of thousands of impressions.
– Deciding factor for their recent earning of “Most Innovative Brokerage or Franchise” from Inman. http://www.realogy.com/media/pr/show_release.cfm?id=422
“Just about all of them were launched with great fanfare and then abandoned.”
Yes, that is a problem and was becoming an all too common practice. This is where I feel the large majority of the backlash comes from. Can’t just build a neat looking and interactive 3D site and be done with it. It takes getting the word out to the masses already in-world well as having real reasons for them to visit, return and remember the location and corporation. Not to mention SL is all about being social, without live visitors in the same location and other forms of real-time and continual social interaction, might as well be using an off-line 3D design program.
As for Coldwell Banker’s continual live presence in SL. They’ve been live staffed 30 hours a week since early March. Mon/Tue/Thur/Fri 2PM to 8PM PST/PDT & Saturday Noon to 6PM PST/PDT. Main headquarters is always open for those interested in checking out services that are offered, pay rent, leave a message for a specific agent, pickup some exclusive home and building related ‘freebies’ and a whole bunch of other themed to match Coldwell Banker’s real life services are available.
“technical architecture is not friendly to large gatherings of people (more than 40 in one place is a problem)”
Yes, this is something all developers who plan for such close proximity, high traffic, needs must take into account. Various workarounds exist. “Mirror” locations, each in it’s own sim (max avatar count per sim, estate sim: 60-80 comfortably, mainland sim: 30-40). Build across four corners of a set of sims (estate sims: ~120, mainland sim: ~100). Or even go basic tech by distribution of high traffic events for everyone to enjoy by relaying audio streams, in-coming/out-going chat, even video being recorded from the host sim and then streamed to other sims or able to be watched in real-time with a regular video player (nearly unlimited).
As for Coldwell Banker, the project is spread over a hundred sims, concern about the max avatar cap per sim isn’t an issue.
Currently with SL a lot of things are being done right, others totally wrong and now the backlash is greatly helping many to see what works, what doesn’t and how to improve. As with most new technologies, early adopters take the risks while the mainstream and snarks wait and see.