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.”

Image courtesy Linden Lab

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.”

a scene from Ready Player One created in Sansar, image courtesy Linden Lab

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.

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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.

Source: MIXED, New World Notes

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  • Mateusz Pawluczuk

    Idk, in VRChat and other dual interface apps VR players have all sorts of “magic advantages” like being able to use their tracked hands, easier object manipulation etc .. and still majority of users are on desktop PC. They either can’t afford VR or don’t want (can’t) use it for one reason or another.

    I don’t think anyone would leave a room/experience because they feel VR users have too many options. Unless there are some seriously competitive/challenging worlds in there, I admittetly only checked some Youtube vids of Sansar.

    • er

      It’s far slower and sometimes even annoying clicking through a menu system by physically aiming with your VR controller as opposed to just a regular desktop mouse pause menu.

      • jj

        thats barely an issue, or at least not one that should be a deciding factor for such a big experience.

      • Firestorm185

        I highly doubt thats a problem for most people. I for one use VR menus all the time and find them very intuitive to navigate, as long as they’re made well.

  • Arcticu Kitsu

    I’m looking at what is being written here and I don’t agree with how Sansar is doing things. They’re expecting things to be magically given to them if they believe VR is some sort of “fad” or “hype train”. That’s where they’re screwing things up because they should earn it, not be “given” it. The problem with their game is how they didn’t advertise it properly because I haven’t heard about it until now. The articles relating to Sansar are just now appearing. This article makes it seem Sandar simply throwing a tantrum, and maybe they honestly are.

    VR is not a fad, nor was it viewed as such. Only the trolls view it as a fad, and always have, and always will. VR has stuck with us even in 1900’s, but not in an electronic manner. Google up Stereoscopic device making sure it’s lined up with the Titanic era of things. A wooden platform with a picture and glass….. Yeah. Also, the “hype for VR” hasn’t gone down, it has gone up. People are still buying headsets, and the Oculus Quest is also being looked at closely to see what it shall offer up until release. People are curious.

    Also, VRchat got lucky thanks to Nagzz21 on Youtube, as with various other Youtubers grabbing wind of it. NeosVR among other need these sorts of boosts also. What makes VRchat also far more appealing is how you can use the VR camera it provides you to take images, and how it makes you feel at home. Can’t say much about Sansar, except for the awesome worlds….. People need to be made to feel at home, given VR camera (in game photography), in game customization, and etc.

    The point of the image below is to show how welcoming VRchat is to people. You can grab images easily, and it makes you feel at home. Does Sansar allow you to do this? Did they TRY and be “one” with the community? When I have more time I’ll go research Sansar some more, just had to point how how “whiny” those behind Sansar are.

    • Sonia

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  • Firestorm185

    I heard about Sansar and even signed up for the beta when it first came out, but the major thing that drove me from the platform was just how limited the avatars were. For an experience that aligns itself very close to what VRChat does (from what I’ve seen of it, like I said, haven’t played it) it seemed majorly dissapointing to me for the avatar system to be limited to premade humanoids. I don’t know if they’ve fixed that or not, but every marketing image I see of Sansar has basic, frankly pretty bland looking avatars. If I’m in VR I want to feel cool, I want to see through another creatures eyes, or maybe not even be a creature at all, but a robot, or a spirit, any number of things that make me feel something new. True, some games that are story based with human avatars make sense because it’s less about creation, more about story, but in a creation-based social service, it just seemed sad to me that avatars got such little customization.

    • Daleos

      Yeah. For me though, it’s literally the other way around. I want my Avatar to look like me (minus a few kilos and years). Can’t do that with the current Sansar tools. An avatar to me needs to be extremely individual, whether the user chooses to make something totally unique or model it accurately on something they already know. Having to pick from a small selection kind of defeats the whole point of what an avatar really is.

  • Maize Wallin

    I hope full VR support is kept. Especially for things like Virtual Concerts, that are gaining steam. I do like that desktop users can still engage though.

  • Dr Finkieees

    The problem lies with Linden Labs and how they themselves have always been on the dictatorial side of how they run their worlds. Sansar is not doing so well, not because people are slow to uptake on the technology but they treat their existing customers very badly and do not understand a large percentage of its user base . Something that has been showing up more predominately in the last few years than any other time. Their marketing has totally bypassed the needs and customer bracket that allowed them the funds for this white elephant. .

    The other reason is they misused the bread and butter income stream providers (Second Life residents) , virtually ignoring their pleas and suggestions for an updated Second Life platform, with the same user and progressive socio infrastructure Second Life offered with better engine, better FPS to modern GPU technology etc.

    The biggest issue is the lack of openness, honesty and clarity behind such grid and account decisions made, that govern their world that often leave their customers in the dark. It is of course Linden labs world and they govern it as they see fit, but people talk with money and over time Linden Labs have been biting the hands that feed them for far too long. Everything from unexplained customer banning, acting on a troll based reports system that is not investigated properly, a TOS that often contradicts itself with its own rules and never seems to reflect on actions made. When you are faced with that, why would anyone want to invest in your new product, when you cannot even act on what your customers want and understand your rules are actually abusive to your own customers.

    • Megumi

      add to the list the sploders that ban people from places, the empty places all around, the empty lands… The millions of stores and nothing to do..

  • JustNiz

    I think the most surprising news here is that Linden Labs still exists.

  • DaKangaroo

    As someone who is still involved in Second Life (yes, sadly, once you’re involved deeply in SL it’s hard to escape), I don’t know ANYONE who uses SL who talks about Sansar, not one of them has said anything about trying it or switching to it. I doubt anyone wants to either.

    • Megumi

      but it would be good to improve SL so people can enjoy it instead of getting bored…

  • Lucidfeuer

    That’s a non-news. Unless you’re an indie structure nailing a hit a like Beat Saber or VRChat, there’s no currently wide enough market to sustain more ambitious games or apps, let alone platforms for long.

  • 1029chris

    I remember the day Sansar launched on steam, there were a few hundred people online. None of them stuck around. Me and my friends all tried out Sansar, and didn’t stick around. Maybe it’s not because VR is unpopular but because Sansar needs to improve?

    Sansar made some silly decisions that made their VR mode really uncomfortable. Everything is blurry due to deferred rendering and TAA, hand and body movement is filtered for some ridiculous reason, and it may look nice but it lags pretty easily. Not to mention for a while they didn’t have custom avatars, and even now custom avatars are limited. Funny enough, High Fidelity has some of these same issues(blurry, laggy, filtering). VR users came to these platforms and were driven away by how uncomfortable they are. Instead of blaming themselves, they blame VR not being popular enough despite VRChat consistently having thousands of VR users everyday.

  • Your articles are always super interesting, but also super long.

    Please could you use bullet points instead of paragraphs, or highlight (in bold) important parts, so that diagonal reading is possible?
    Thank you!

    • Tellurian Mystic

      Very short attention span, eh?

  • Chinamini aspie angel

    Oh is so much time lost.

  • x

    Can’t log in….waste of time….uninstalling

  • Angel Dahlia

    Literally, how old is the marketing and development team? Do they not realize the reason vrchat was a success and imvu is a success yet? WHO are the marketing this too? The younger generation doesn’t care about that bull crap, they follow trends. You establish yourself in the market by establishing themselves as trendy to gain an initial user base, and they will be loyal after good experiences. No BIG youtubers,streamers, celebrities, etc are talking about sl or sansar. They do imvu, they do vr chat, the do the sims. SL and sansar are hardly ever streamed. AND people who invested years and thousands of dollars are not trying to start from scratch?!??!?!?!? FIX SL. UPGRADE SL. ENHANCE SL FOR VR. AND THEN MARKET IT TO THE YOUNGER GENERATION. If SL’s game engines just ran smoother like GTA, they would have MILLIONS of users. And even as it is now, if it was marketed correctly, there would be definitely be way more users on the platform. Like seriously, hire me so I can smack some sense into these developers and marketing dodos.

    • Megumi

      Why is it always the younger generation the focus!!??
      SL is going to be full of teenagers. I don’t want that.
      I agree in enhancing SL, a lot. Why waste your time going to another plataform?
      They talked about 1million users, i wonder how many log in at least 1 a week.
      SL is boring. it’s all about taking pictures and buying the same duck face head.

      • PHUCKO

        Because that’s who gets sucked in and brings in the most money.

  • Ardra Diva

    Sansar still has great promise. It’s kinda buggy though. This is pretty much par for the course with LL products. Awesome creative portals. Clunky performance. SL might be the most amazing virtual world ever, but it runs poorly as it’s little more than a browser to stream in content. I do think LL has a great opportunity to do it right – the SL way – freedom with little or no supervision.

  • Arcticu Kitsu

    Time has passed and it seems they still haven’t learned a thing while blaming everything on the age of VR, not themselves. Don’t be greedy, don’t over-saturate the market with the same games……..Steam reviews show it to have mixed reviews on both fronts……

    If you want people to enjoy your game you’ll have to go outside your comfort zone… Think outside the box. They haven’t even enabled Valve Index support…… They’re not even trying………