Second Life Sequesters Perverts

LOS ANGELES — "Sex sells" or so they say, and while an increasing number of companies seem to be pushing the envelope by adding a little (or a lot of) sex appeal to their marketing efforts, not everyone sees porn as the path to profit in a down market — at least not openly.

For example, virtual world Second Life parent Linden Labs seems to be pushing away from the sexy shenanigans that drove much of its growth by planning the banishment of its naughtier netizens to their own area.

In a recent post on the Second Life blog entitled Upcoming Changes for Adult Content, Cyn Linden announced the segregationist maneuvering, stating that "it has become clear that some Residents are interested in pursuing certain 'adult' activities in Second Life that others would rather not casually encounter."

There will be three steps taken to address the issue of adult material in Second Life:

"First, it will provide a way to geographically separate adult content and activities to a part of the 'mainland' designed to accommodate these activities (estate owners with adult content on their land will be required to flag their content; they will not be required to move)," Linden said. "Second, it will filter search results; so that those who do not wish to see 'adult' results will not."

"Third," Linden added, "it will require that those who access or see 'adult' content (whether on land or in search) have had their accounts verified — such as by a payment or age verification method."

Others report that the reasoning behind the ghettoization of the adult-minded community is that Linden Labs fears that mainstream advertisers are shying away from the platform due to the amount of sexually-explicit activity taking place within its virtual world; and by "cleaning up" the world, they hope to woo these sex-shy brands to bolster declining advertising sales.

Writing for Techdirt, Carlo Longino cited the initial rush of companies that set up shop in Second Life amongst much ballyhoo — a fad that proved to be relatively short-lived — as the motivator for the move.

"Perhaps it was good for an initial publicity stunt, but many of the companies that entered the virtual world found it to be fairly worthless, from a marketing standpoint," Longino wrote. "While perhaps you have to admire their optimism, it doesn't seem likely that restricting sex-related activities to a virtual red-light district will suddenly make Second Life worthwhile for businesses."

"Furthermore, with the sex stuff believed to make up the vast majority of the Second Life economy," Longino added, "moving to restrict it in hopes of chasing companies' marketing dollars may not be a great strategy."

But given the amount of profit potential in the virtual adult marketplace, having a separate "adult's only" area may bring the double benefits of making mainstream marketers more comfortable advertising in "uncensored" areas, while allowing more explicit advertising opportunities to be had within the appropriate spaces.

"The core goals of this initiative are to improve Second Life for everyone — by giving Residents more control over what they see, and by providing the best available method to make adult content accessible only to those who ought to (and who desire to) access it," Linden concluded.