Lively vs. Second Life, The Virtual Arms Race Is On

July 8, 2008


Lively, dubbed Google’s Second Life, launched today. I checked it out. Here are my thoughts on Lively vs. Second Life.


Photo: CNET


Lively is a browser plugin. Quick, simple install. Load up your web browser (FF or IE), goto, login with your Google account (everyone has one of these by now), and you’re in a virtual room in no time. Too bad it’s only available on Windows.

Second Life is a desktop app available on more platforms (Win, Mac, Linux). First, you have to sign up for an SL account which requires credit card validation. After a more painful 35-73MB download, the client only works on more mid to high end computers with high speed internet because the client is very performance heavy. If you’ve made it this far, congrats because most people don’t. For the average user, there are just way too many doors to open.

Winner: Lively


When I first got into Lively, I was annoyed that the UI didn’t work like Second Life. In Lively, the avatar doesn’t walk around smoothly. When you double click somewhere, your avatar teleports to that location. Every object you click on has different properties and functions you can do to them (inconsistency). There are dozens of icons all over the screen, and I have to hover over each one of them to figure out what they do (poor visibility).

Linden Lab has spent a lot of time perfecting how to move your avatar/objects and navigate the environment. The use of the ALT + mouse for panning, dragging and dropping for objects, scroll wheel for zooming, right click for pie menu, and keyboard arrow key for maneuvering your avatar are all examples of great natural mapping.

Winner: Second Life


Obviously, Second Life is going to blow Lively out of the water in graphics and such, especially with the new Windlight viewer. However, how many users are Linden Lab losing because SL wasn’t built for basic computers with integrated graphic cards? Lively may not be that pretty, but it can probably run on almost every computer. Great graphics do not make a virtual world good; it’s the social interactions and online media that will make it immersive and addicting.

Winner: Second Life

Lighthouse in Second Life. Flickr / Felony Fabre

Final Thoughts

Google is entering the virtual world space at a very interesting time. Recently, VWs have been popping up out of the woodwork. Whether you believe it’s a marketing ploy or if it truly helps your brand, virtual worlds are hot right now, and everyone and their mother is building one. The one thing they don’t have is Google’s vast user base and resources…

The Virtual Arms Race Is On

What makes virtual worlds so popular? It’s the user generated content (UGC). Millions of L$ (Lindens) are exchanged hands in Second Life every day between buyers and content creators. Content = Money. In 2008/2009, I predict there will be a rush to see who can get the most UGC for virtual worlds, since this is where the future profits will be. There will be a virtual arms race to see who can warehouse the best and the largest quantity of 3D content that can be exported to different virtual worlds. If Google plays its cards right, it could dominate this space just like it did with search and online video.

“He who controls the past commands the future. He who commands the future conquers the past.” -George Orwell

Related articles on Lively:


4 Responses to “Lively vs. Second Life, The Virtual Arms Race Is On”

  1. James Hsieh Says:

    Dear Web 0.2 Hao Chen:

    As I have been following 3D Internet and 3D virtual world since 2004 and have read so many comparison between Second Life and Google Lively by now, your article “Lively vs. Second Life, The Virtual Arm Race is on” is the one of the most comprehensive ones and offers a lot of in-depth analysis.

    Let me introduce myself. I am James Hsieh of Sandio Technology Corporation. We invented and developed a 6DOF 3D mouse targeting 3D Internet users and 3D virtual world residents. Users of Google Earth and Microsoft Virtual Earth as well as residents in Second Life and Google Lively can now fly through 3D world intuitively with just a mouse.

    In the 3D era, as nVidia and AMD are helping with 3D computation power, Linden Labs, Google and Microsoft are helping with 3D application, Sandio would like to help with 3D input and 3D motion control to increase virtual world residents’ total 3D experience.

    Like you, we are new too (compare with other input device players). To help us better serve 3D virtual world residents, I would appreciate it if you would help us review a Sandio 3D Mouse.


    James Hsieh

  2. BB Says:

    I couldn’t agree more that Google has joined the VW race at a good time, or even a bit late? (maybe that’s why they pushed the beta release of Lively, it’s almost as though they couldn’t wait).

    The whole VW experience is growing slightly, but it’s hard to imagine it booming too much, just yet at least.

    They have a lot to improve on in Lively but I’m sure it will grow, as long as Google doesn’t let it follow the same footsteps as Orkut, and certainly not follow Froogle.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: