Thursday brought reports that Microsoft may have silently offered to purchase Second Life developer Linden Lab.
The news follows an additional report that Linden Lab is closing its UK office on Thursday, an unsurprising move given that the studio cut 30-percent of its staff back in June. To make matters worse, CEO Mark Kingdon walked away from his position two weeks later.
But according to a current Linden Lab employee, various companies have already offered to purchase the studio, Microsoft being the latest. Purchasing Linden Lab would be an interesting move for Microsoft, as the company could integrate Second Life into Xbox Live--possibly even Games for Windows Live--to offer a service similar to Sony’s PlayStation Home virtual environment on the PlayStation 3. Games for Windows Live support would mean that current residents could still enter the virtual world, but only through the stand-alone client.
Linden Lab launched Second Life for the PC back in June 2003. Unlike current MMORPGs, the virtual world offered no quests to fulfill, no characters to level, and didn’t even offer a compelling story. Instead, it was more of a 3D social environment allowing users to create virtual goods and sell their items for real-world cash. Today Second Life is used as both a virtual advertising platform and a way of life for many entrepreneurs.
But if Microsoft were to purchase Linden Lab and take the reigns of Second Life, all that revenue could be gone, possibly converted to Microsoft Points. For now, Microsoft is refusing to comment on rumor.