Touring the Corporate Graveyards of Second Life


     Cisco's virtual hospital is a spooky wasteland.

In the spirit of Halloween, we thought it would be interesting to take a look at some of the corporate ghost towns scattered across the fickle landscape of Second Life.

InfoWorld did a great write-up on the history of corporate failure in the Metaverse, and one thing is certain: Large or small, tech or apparel, Second Life has swallowed up some of the best companies the real-world has to offer.

Pixels and Policy takes a look at why so many companies are failing in the Metaverse, and why the U.S. government is the newest body in the graveyard of corporate hopes.

A Failure to Communicate

We've written about how companies like American Apparel just don't seem to understand the nature of marketing in the Metaverse. Real-world companies develop static installations and expect users to visit them out of sheer brand loyalty. What they find is little more than a "curiosity bump" in foot traffic, followed by a flat-line.

This is because virtual consumers want to be engaged. Corporations seeking to open installations in Second Life would do well to first create a library of engaging content to be rolled out over the course of a year. This will likely require a full-time content team responsive to changing trends and fashion memes in-world. Few companies are willing to shell out for this, and attempts to build a presence on the cheap ask for failure.

Developing an online presence is increasingly important, as consumer trends shift away from old advertising outlets like television. Companies need a presence in virtual worlds in order to tap a growing market of consumers with disposable income, but few seem to have any clue how to market. Second Life is littered with the empty husks of corporate failure.

Empty Sims, Empty Hopes

Casual browsers of the Second Life landscape don't need to look very hard to find corporate sites in a state of disrepair. Cisco's virtual hospital is now a ghost town that gives away a creepy free ID tag to anyone who steps through the busted doors. Reuters also has a mothballed office for its short-lived foray into virtual news, InfoWorld's article notes.

Most interestingly, several major government operations sit in various states of completion, their projects indefinitely mothballed due to a mix of economic recession and general disinterest. The Department of Energy's otherwise impressive island is little more than abandonware now, and users can enjoy the experience of having an entire government energy facility all to themselves.

Even the Navy's project – complete with nuclear submarines and some cool lookout points – is doomed to the footnotes of Second Life history. In over a dozen visits this week, no one was ever there. Its foot traffic hardly ranks in Second Life's search feature. 

For corporations and ambitious government bureaucrats, every business is an island.