Sansar, Linden Lab’s VR-capable Second Life follow-up, is being spun out, the company’s CEO has confirmed.
First launched in beta in mid-2017, Sansar was Linden Lab’s first VR-native attempt at a virtual world platform. Designed to allow creators to build and host virtual worlds and experiences for other to visit, the platform struggled to gain traction and notoriety among VR users. By 2019 the studio was dialing back its emphasis on Sansar as a VR-centric platform in an effort to draw non-VR users to the platform as well.
More recently Sansar has been rebranded as a “new live events destination from the makers of Second Life,” with an emphasis on virtual performances.
Now Linden Lab plans to spin Sansar out of the company. As spotted by New World Notes, CEO Ebbe Altberg said as much in a company livestream last week.
“[…] we have decided that as Linden Lab we couldn’t continue to sponsor [Sansar] financially, so we’re looking for a ‘plan B’ for Sansar to continue. I can’t say much but we’re having very interesting conversations with several parties to help that project move forward, which I’m really excited about. But no deal is done yet so people just have to be patient and see what happens with it,” he said.
Second Life may be 16 years old and past its heyday, but it remains one of the most active virtual worlds out there with a concurrent usership in the neighborhood of 40,000 users and an active economy. While there have been some attempts to make Second Life VR-compatible, it’s fundamentally not build for use with VR headsets.
While Linden Lab said from the start that Sansar wasn’t meant to be ‘Second Life 2‘, it was clear from the attention given to it that the company hoped Sansar would be its next big thing. But now, Altberg says, the company will refocus its efforts on Second Life.
“But yes it’s true that Linden Lab going forward will focus entirely on Second Life and Tilia. I’m still busy making sure Sansar finds a great home and that the great work that that team started can continue. That’s where things are are, hopefully we can be more specific on what’s going on in the next couple of weeks or so.”
While some VR-focused virtual worlds, like VRChat, have found ongoing traction, many others have not, including High Fidelity, a VR virtual world platform founded by Philip Rosedale (who, interestingly, was the founder of Second Life). After raising some $70 million over the years, High Fidelity announced in mid-2019 that it would lay off 25% of its staff and switch its focus from VR to becoming a platform for remote workers, at least until the VR audience grows large enough for the company’s focus.