Well, perhaps not quite. But Linden Lab has made an announcement that Second Life will be expanding to Steam ‘in the next month or so’.
The announcement reads:
“As some sharp-eyed developers have speculated, we’re going to make Second Life available on Steam in the next month or so.
Many of us have friends who are avid Steam gamers, but if you’re not familiar, Steam is a very popular online game platform that offers a wide range of titles (and will soon also offer other software as well).
What does this news mean for Second Life? You’ll still be able to access Second Life just as you can today; there won’t be any change to that. But, the more than 40 million people who use Steam will also be able to get Second Life as easily as they can get games like Portal.
We’ll make an announcement on the blog when Second Life is actually available on Steam, but in the meantime, if you have friends who are Steam gamers, let ‘em know it’s coming!”
This is a very interesting announcement, given that Valve have recently announced that they will soon be allowing non-games applications to join Steam. This does give an ambiguity as to whether Linden Lab are continuing to move Second Life towards a games platform or whether this is simply a case of them taking advantage of Valve’s more relaxed policy on what applications can join Steam.
Certainly there is a strong case that Steam has a high density of the kind of people who have the computer hardware necessary to run Second Life at its most graphically-intense settings, so raising awareness of the Second Life platform on Steam may have benefits.
However, I see a less positive side to it too. As anyone who has read my previous articles will know, I have a strong sense of wanting to live my ‘second’ life unencumbered by the trappings of my first. And I view this (hopefully optional!) integration with Steam as being yet more example of the lines between SL and RL being blurred. Steam is a real life service, with your real identity (although ‘handles’ / nicknames are allowed). And it strengthens the concept that SL is just yet another service that you create a username and password for.
Having said that, as someone who has played Skyrim a lot (which is a Steam game), I didn’t feel that it was RL ‘me’ playing it – I created a character and advanced her though the game. So perhaps I am unduly concerned here. Perhaps all will work out ok. But I do still have this nagging feeling that entering SL via Steam will make people think it is just another game, or MMPORG and I feel that would miss the point of Second Life being a Virtual World and not a game. Or, certainly how it started out anyway. I’m not so sure what it is now or where it is going.
(All in my opinion, of course)
[With thanks to Inara Pey for her blog article that alerted me to this]
Some interesting (and long) articles that give further insight into the ramifications of this move. Really worth reading if you have the time: