A while back, we made a Hivemind vow to steer clear of Second Life reportage, as it’s an MMO that so often suffers a ridiculously inflated, distorted profile in its press coverage, and we really don’t want to add to that. Occasionally though, there’s a story that isn’t about some past-it band holding a fake gig there or someone else revealing that they regularly have fake sex in it, and it’s worth a mention here.
In this case, it’s the news that The Trident Media Group, which is responsible for the much-milked Frank Herbert Estate, has dealt out a harsh smackdown to a few Second Life Dune Fans – demanding they remove all direct references to the books from their carefully-made Arrakis-inspired areas because…. because…. well, you tell me.
An ill-thought out fear that too many people might get wind of it, and enjoy a near-free Dune Online? Simple knee-jerk IP-protection? Whichever, it’s very hard to see what the demands to remove all Herbert-derived names’n’areas’n’characters achieves, bar driving a wedge between Dune fans and the Dune property. If, as is more than possible, it’s because there’s an official Dune MMO in the works (and it’s a well-suited license to one, in all honesty), surely this would have made a fine testing-of-the-waters, rather than a threat?
As another demonstration of quite how futile an action this was by Trident, SL’s Dune area had just 130 members, only 20% of which were estimated to be active players. What’ll now probably happen is the membership of the now-generic but still existent space-desert zone will suddenly swell because loads of folk have heard about it as a result of news stories. Good work, Trident. Not only have you created a swathe of bad will towards the Dune license, but you’ve shot your own nasty plan in the foot.
Nonetheless, it’s extremely worrying that SL owners Linden have complied with Trident’s demands, as it potentially opens the door to any number of similar IP vampires sinking their soulless fangs into the necks of modders and fans. Let’s hope this is a one-off.