Philip Rosedale announced some big changes last week at the weekly General Assembly meeting (1hr) in High Fidelity. There was a large audience for this important meeting.
The first being the closure of all its public domains/spaces apart from the Welcome domain for new users. The welcome domain will be a tiny space and it will not be available for everyone to hang out there.
Philip wants the end-user to run the servers instead and he thinks that there will be more people concurrent across the servers in time. How successful this will be time will tell I think.
Philip said In the prior year of High Fidelity the platform failed to get 1, 000 users concurrency apparently. There is not enough revenue flowing into the company currently and everyone would need to pay US$10,000 a month to keep the company going into the future. Then the company would see positive cash-flow.
Philip mentioned Second Life saying that “this is not Second Life in 2004. Second Life actually took off like a rocket, once it got working. Even though it had tons and tons of problems… but it took off like an absolute rocket. And the reason that it did, I think, was that this experience of bringing a lot of people together and letting them build things together live, well, in the time frame when we built Second Life, it had never, ever been seen by anyone. It was the most exceptional, jaw-dropping thing that anybody had ever seen except in science fiction”.
Here is what Philip actually said during the meeting
We are going to close down all our public spaces. We’re gonna do that after this meeting, before the end of the week… First of all, we are not a social VR game… This is not a chat application where we get people together and hanging around in a room talking to each other. High Fidelity is designed to be a platform anticipating the very broad use of VR across the internet for things like this.. going to work, going to school, doing all kinds or different things.
And we’re certainly doing our very best to get that started, but we sort of feel lately… a couple of things have happened that make us feel we are making a mistake by running the biggest servers… We feel like we are actively doing a disservice to everyone by running these public spaces. Instead, what we ought to have is you guys running your own spaces…
At least as an experiment, but hopefully, as a good call, and we’re going to do it in the next day or so, is we’re going to shut everything down, except for a help space for new users… but it will be a tiny space, and we aren’t going to let anybody hang out there.
One of the problems that VR has right now… the most popular VR app in the world is Beat Saber… the number [of concurrent users] is going to be about 700. So one important thing is that in the prior year, not only have we failed to get 1,000 [user] concurrency, but so has everybody else. Now, VRChat has 1,000 concurrency… but I don’t hang out there a lot… But I don’t think that the experience you have in VRChat is yet my vision of a real virtual world.
Second, by shutting down our public servers, I actually make the prediction that there will be… more people concurrent across the servers that you guys run than us. So I’m not saying that we’re giving up on the servers, I’m saying that I want you to run them.
Given the number of people that we have…let’s add to it Anyland and Neos[VR], and for that matter even Rec Room, even though that’s much more of a game. Let’s actually add all those people together into one product. That company will not survive. There’s not enough revenue… Everybody here that’s having such a good time…you guys need to pay us US$10,000 a month for us to keep the company going, indefinitely into the future, for us to basically be a positive cash-flow company, as we say here in the Valley. And everybody else in VR right now is faced by that.
Now there’s two ways to think about that. This is one of these ego-threatening things so that it’s hard to see clearly, to look at it objectively. Way number one is to say, it’s just that there’s too many bugs in this High Fidelity thing. If they just fix the bugs, why, people would fall out of the sky like cats and dogs into here. If that were true, you’d see them falling into somewhere else. And what’s happening is that the open-platform system we have here isn’t attracting very many people in this day and age. And so we’ve gotta ponder what to do about that.
One thing to do, which all the companies have been doing… is better support for desktop users. Because any assessment of the rate of progress on HMDs is a sobering one… they are not selling enough to create a general-purpose community that is both interesting and profitable… So, it’s really important to recognize, that through no fault of our collective selves… it’s not working. This model is not working right now. The flat world that is an open building environment, is not compelling enough as it stands right now, for the number of HMDs that are out there, to get lift off. And so we’ve gotta think hard about that.
It is going to work, believe me. I’ve worked my whole life on this and I’m quite certain, I know it’s ultimately going to happen. I’m just saying to your guys, just fixing the bugs we have… is not likely to get us or any other company to cash-flow break even…It’s also got to be enough to move you guys to make great content. There should be 15, 20, 50 people around the table right now making a living in here. And we’re not there yet. So we gotta figure that out.
You guys, this is not Second Life in 2004. Second Life actually took off like a rocket, once it got working. Even though it had tons and tons of problems… but it took off like an absolute rocket. And the reason that it did, I think, was that this experience of bringing a lot of people together and letting them build things together live, well, in the time frame when we built Second Life, it had never, ever been seen by anyone. It was the most exceptional, jaw-dropping thing that anybody had ever seen except in science fiction.
The problem we have today is that that’s just not true. The internet affords us many, many, many, many different ways to be together as people, for example, or just to chat. And so one of the things we are up against here is that there is not as much of a genesis moment with something Like High Fidelity or, for that matter, something like VRChat. Coming online you just don’t have the kind of meme in the sense of a grand or cultural meme kind of written out there like Second Life did. That doesn’t mean that we’re not going to make it. It simply means that we have to be more clever and the strategy that we use to get people in here has to be somewhat different.
What do you think about the closure of the public domains/spaces ?
8 thoughts on “Philip Rosedale announces closure of all public spaces in High Fidelity”
Honestly, I think this is actually going to hurt them. Mainly since they launched on Steam. Most people on Steam don’t want to be bothered with “Building” their own spaces, they want something they can log in to and just go. Now if they were to also launch on the Oculus Store, and dare I even say it, Epic Game Store, and hell to an extent even GOG, they might be able to get more users, and all of that. But at this time without spreading to other distribution platforms, I see High Fidelity as a hard fail, unfortunately. I have been a user since the closed betas, and this is something a lot of us have said the limitation of distribution, the complexity of creating your own worlds/simulations compared to SL or hell Sansar now it soo high for most Steam users. As I said before most Steam users just want to go into a game/VR World and have things to instantly do, and not have to “build” their own experiences, or depend on someone else to build an experience that they want to see and interact with.
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I think it’s going to hurt them too. High Fidelity had great potential and it’s a shame things have not gone to plan.
Interesting that Sansar users on Steam have gone up a bit during the last month. The question is how long can Sansar remain on Steam ?.
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This is somewhat sad, but not really a surprise. It’s been my impression that with HiFi, like he did with SL, Rosedale likes to push the outer edge of consumer computing power. Machines that can run HiFi acceptably are simply not in use for this type of gaming. With Opensim making personal virtual worlds easily accessible to everyone, it isn’t surprising that new ventures like HiFi are failing to find traction.
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It’s a real shame and pretty sad on the closure of the public spaces. I’m not sure how its going to work well going forward.
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I can’t imagine that it will work well at all if users start hosting their own instances and simply connecting to the HiFi grid. OSGrid and Metropolis already have that model covered.
It really is disappointing. I like Rosedale and hoped that he had a viable idea for SL 2.0 when the Lab fixated on Sansar. But maybe he’s right: SL was simply the right idea at the right place and in the right time. We’ve since moved on, and repeating the trick isn’t possible.
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VR has not really taken off so far and the demand is not there.
I do think give it another 2-5 years and it may be more mainstream
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I’m afraid that VR was associated too strongly with Google Glass in the public’s mind, and too many people are creeped out by it. If the big players can solve the nausea and safety problems, it may take off. At the risk of being a pessimist, though, I actually think that if it were going to become, it would’ve done already. I fear it may turn out to be just a flash in the pan, sort of like betamax: a superior technology that should’ve survived but didn’t.
Make that “…to become mainstream, it would’ve….”