Sansar, Linden Lab’s VR-capable Second Life follow-up, is being spun out, the company’s CEO has confirmed.

Update (March 25th, 2020): Sansar has been acquired by Wookey Projects, a still fairly stealth San Francisco-based technology company. The exchange in IP is effective immediately. Linden Lab says in a blog post announcing the deal that Second Life will not be impacted at all, as it remains with its founding studio.

Linden Lab further says that many members of the Sansar team formerly employed by the company are “staying with Sansar as employees under its new ownership.”

The original article announcing the spin-off follows below:

Original Article (February 24th, 2020): 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.

Image courtesy Linden Lab

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.

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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.

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Ben is the world's most senior professional analyst solely dedicated to the XR industry, having founded Road to VR in 2011—a year before the Oculus Kickstarter sparked a resurgence that led to the modern XR landscape. He has authored more than 3,000 articles chronicling the evolution of the XR industry over more than a decade. With that unique perspective, Ben has been consistently recognized as one of the most influential voices in XR, giving keynotes and joining panel and podcast discussions at key industry events. He is a self-described "journalist and analyst, not evangelist."
  • Xron

    Well, we still need 2nd or 3rd gen devices with haptic body suits or atleast gloves to immerse into real virtual world, not just to game but to explore to socialize and to partially live there as in real life.
    P.s I guess 2nd gen won’t suffice for this.

    • aasdfa

      We dont need to live there for it to be enjoyable enough to start an industry around. Its already really immersive and social and just getting better!

      • Lera

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    • No you don’t. It’s fine even with just a headset. I don’t want to spend ten minutes loading into a haptic suit like some knight donning heavy armor. That’s how you get cases of people “transcending to desktop”.

    • Jeeves7

      And then theres the immense loading times of the app itself. Sansar should have been kicked and SL 2 started.

  • JesuSaveSouls

    No ready player one functioning metaverse yet.

    • asdf

      have you tried neosvr? the ability to code and create within the universe makes it the closest thing yet

      • namekuseijin

        Rec Room as well

        • Ad

          In reality the metaverse can’t exist because it would take unlimited free labor from infinite modders and there are never enough for every random idea people are calling for.

          • Hivemind9000

            The MetaVerse can (and will) exist where tools could be given to the players to modify and enhance the universe themselves (bound under fundamental rules – such as physics, entropy and resource scarcity). We just need more computation power for this to become a convincing reality. SecondLife is a very early and basic attempt at this, but isn’t anywhere near what it needs to be.

  • Ad

    I sincerely hope every effort at a second life in VR fails miserably. We don’t need dystopia and cursed environments. Let’s focus on actual foundational software, games, and safer more restrained forms of interaction.

    • Hivemind9000

      So you basically mean censorship.

      The thing about the Internet is, if you don’t like it, you don’t have to go there. As long as people aren’t getting hurt or exploited, then it should be left alone (and Valve/Oculus already have policies around those sorts of issues).

      The world is a more interesting place without your sanitization, m’kay?

      • Ad

        Are you familiar with 4Chan? These things do not stay contained. And don’t act like places like Second Life don’t invest enormous power and control to the makers of the platforms. And don’t call it censorship, no digital platform owes you a spot on their store.

        Also you should read some negative reviews of Ready Player One.

        • Hivemind9000

          You’re not making much sense there Mr Grumpy. As I said, the are already acceptable content policies for Steam/Oculus. What you are proposing is not based on moral ethics, but personal preference.

          If you don’t like it don’t go there. Other people do like it, so let them have their fun.

          And it’s all censorship in one form or another. Look it up.

          • Ad

            You are a transhumanist, and I think people should democratically get to decide whether that happens or not. And 4chan is relevant because even if I don’t go there, it breeds far right, troll, and other dangerous sub cultures that have gone as far as to incite mass shootings.

          • Hivemind9000

            Thanks for downvoting all my posts here, without responding to them directly. Rude.

          • Ad

            I didn’t know people had sex on SecondLife, I don’t care that much even if I’m sure an ecosystem like that makes it go in illegal directions.

            I think Second Life in VR would be like 4Chan, I think it would be dystopian, and I think there are real dangers in that kind of virtual space, aided and abetted by people who want to invite in the Basilisk like you.

          • Hivemind9000

            You’re hilarious. Never been called a Basilisk before. Thanks for that.

            See you in Dystopia!

          • Ad, what exactly do you think VR is? Why would Second Life be fine with you if it has no VR, yet suddenly becomes some evil den of scum and villainy once it’s in VR? You do know VR is simply a different way of looking at the digital world right? It doesn’t magically brainwash you into becoming an opiate addicted pedophile or anything.

          • Ad

            Look up literally any article on the social or ethical implications of VR.

        • I agree with Hivemind, it’s a HUGE pile of bullsh*t that these big companies have been allowed to silence people they don’t care for. There is no “Democracy” to these decisions. It’s a CEO and a few bureaucrats deciding who is and isn’t allowed to speak. To make matters worse, these companies are in the Bay Area, a place known for Far Left politics.

          It’s not new that companies have tried to swing the opinions of the public, but those companies are NOW holding the reins of our very Freedom of Speech. They aren’t trying to use propaganda, they are flat out silencing people they don’t like. That’s ENORMOUSLY UNCONSTITUTIONAL.

          The Freedom of Speech is only valuable if it protects the rights of those the majority of public DOES NOT agree with. Nobody has ever battled for the freedom to pet puppies or enjoy ice cream.

          • Ad

            That’s funny since the communist party is still illegal by act of Congress and that’s been upheld by the Supreme Court, no such law exists for the Nazi party.

            These companies don’t have to uphold the first amendment and I doubt you would protect someone’s right to speak their mind at work.

            Regardless, I said a thing should not exist, a kind of platform. That is content neutral and therefore even the US government could constitutionally ban it since they are allowed per the Supreme Court to regulate the time place and manner of speech. If congress banned anything like a VR Second Life they could constitutionally do so.

          • Ardra Diva

            Easily defeated by changing your words. It’s not “communist”, it’s “socialist”. Voila, problem solved.

  • Hivemind9000

    I think the problem with Sansar (and similar social sandbox games) is that there’s not really enough to do other than some basic interactions and socializing. There’s no underlying mechanic or meta game to drive people to return and “do stuff”. Likewise, they obviously are having trouble monetizing it – for the same reasons.

    I’m not dissing the socializing aspect – but current technology is just not immersive enough yet (we really need better haptics) for it to be “enough” for most people. Second Life at least had some meta game mechanics, like property ownership and trade, the ability to create and sell digital items. I’d like to see something like this but with some or all of such things as conflict/cooperation, trade/ownership, manufacture/entropy etc. Essentially the Metaverse… (dreams are free!)

    • namekuseijin

      Every user can create things and rooms in Rec Room, from inside VR.

      and rooms can be as large as cities…

  • Agatha Ragged

    Sansar gained plenty of notoriety, trust me

  • namekuseijin

    VR is already a second life, either in Skyrim, Rec Room or elsewhere. It needs no stinking old corpse

  • I visited Sansar some months ago. I found it heavy, buggy and desert. This comes at no surprise to me

  • Jason Merch

    Sansar is ahead of SL in terms of its game development design toolset. It uses an industry standard game format that SL doesn’t have. It’s unfortunate that Linden was not capable of pushing Sansar towards the right direction, but we hope whover takes over can do some miracles. We also hope to see SL get at glTF support…. would really improve over collada…

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  • dollarability

    Wow. I could have told them to do that years ago. I wonder how much money wasted on Sansar could have been used to upgrade Second Life?Let’s start by upgrading the terrain textures on the SL mainland.

  • Um, IMVU has around 80,000 users, so that trump’s Second Life. I should know, I make my living off selling items on the IMVU to other users.

    Still it’s weird, out of all of the VR-related YouTube videos I come across, not one of them was a user experience in Sansar. I’ve found videos of all sorts of tiny, indie, VR projects, and NOTHING about Sansar. How on earth could so few people have mentioned it in social media? I’d hazard a guess that none of the players ever saw anything interesting enough to post. :/

    Also, how High Fidelity raise $70 Million for a VR world and then spin it into just another remote-conferencing app? If I sunk money into that, I would *SUE THEM*. Talk about bait and switch!

    • 40,000 concurrent users, not total. That’s 40,000 online at one time, each day. Second life has roughly 600,000 unique users a month, and that’s just metrics given by Firestorm, a 3rd party viewer, for how many users are using their viewer, not even the official viewer.

    • Ardra Diva

      IMVU can’t compare as a creative outlet, though. SL’s platform is much more capable.

  • FatCat1957

    Honestly I don’t think any VR platform will succeed for the simple fact that most people don’t want to sit for hours with a bulky thing on their head. Add that to the high cost of a decent headset and its no wonder.

    • kontis

      Tell that to all those people with thousands of hours spent in VRChat.

  • sfmike

    Truly sad as Sansar and High Fidelity were just to early in the VR timeline having been fooled by all those investment gurus that convinced people that there would be billions of VR headset users and billions of dollars to be made at this point in time. Also I think lack of adult content hurt both platforms. You would think they would get a clue from Second Life’s adult’s only areas that still make money. Sansar was great and was visually beautiful just underpopulated. I guess we are stuck being family friendly floating cartoon torsos until the VR user base grows. I think the stand alone and wireless headsets might be the push to mass use we need but have low expectations of Facebook Horizon will bring to the table. I expect it to be a Rec Room clone with flashier art direction but with the same annoying amount of foul mouth kids and trolls.

  • Ardra Diva

    this is a bummer in a way. i had really high hopes for this platform. hopefully it survives.