Linden Lab’s website maintains Sansar is their platform for creating social VR experiences, and that “Sansar will democratize VR as a creative medium, making it easy for people to create, share, and sell their own social VR experiences.” It seems however the company is less bullish on VR now that hype has died down—at least as far as the company’s messaging goes.
Update (May 2nd, 2019): Linden Lab CEO Ebbe Altberg provided Road to VR with a statement underlining the company’s ongoing support of both VR and desktop.
“We’re not deemphasizing our investment in VR by any means,” Altberg explains. “We’re simply making sure PC users realize they can access Sansar as well. Our community today experiences Sansar on both desktop and VR, and we will continue to advance both.”
The original article follows below:
Original Article (April 22nd, 2019): Speaking to New World Notes at GDC 2019 in March, Linden Lab CEO Ebbe Altberg says the company’s latest platform has always been a majority desktop experience ever since it went live back in 2017, and it seems he doesn’t expect that to change in the near term.
“Statistically, it’s always been a majority PC, desktop. I don’t know what the exact numbers are: 75/25, 80/20, of […] desktop versus VR. And so you’ll probably be seeing us less pitching it as a VR thing,” Altberg told New World Notes.
In the early days of release, Altberg says Sansar rode high on VR’s hype, however since hype has died down somewhat following the heady days of 2016 and 2017, the company is recentering its messaging around desktop users.
“It was hot, hip, and interesting to talk about VR, and we kind of rode that a little bit, but ultimately our goal is to make it so that desktop and VR can both enjoy Sansar. I switch back and forth; I cruise around on desktop, but when I hang out with people, I definitely put my ‘gear’ on and hop in, because it’s so much more immersive to hang out with people and do stuff in VR.”
Altberg says that since day one, Sansar has been focused on bringing equal access to both desktop and VR users, however he admits it’s been a big challenge.
“You have to rethink a lot of user interfaces in dual. It’s kind of like desktop and mobile. It’s a very different paradigm in how things work. We want to make it so you don’t have some magic advantages on one versus the other. Certainly on more of the play side. On the create side, we dabble a little bit with VR, so that you can at least you look at your environment and move some stuff around but we didn’t go all out on VR creation. It’s definitely much more of a desktop creation environment.”
While Altberg didn’t speak about Sansar’s concurrent user numbers in depth, its forerunner Second Life is still the core business for the company in the interim, and undoubtedly funding Sansar’s creation. The studio employs around 70 developers to build Sansar, while Second Life’s development team has around 130.
“Second Life has an audience that peeked just over a million, and is now just below a million. What would it take to build a platform that could, if executed properly with the right strategy, have tens of millions or hundreds of millions of people on it? That’s why a lot of the approach we took to Sansar has been different. We still have to prove that degree of success, but I think it’s definitely worth a shot, because I think it’s possible.”
Notably, High Fidelity, the VR social platform from Linden Lab co-founder Philip Rosedale, recently announced it’s taking a similar step back from VR by emphasizing the platform’s desktop userbase—something that appears to be in response to slow platform growth.
You can watch New World Notes’ full interview here.