Many pet rabbits will die in Second Life on Saturday

Virtual rabbits across Second Life [official site] will fall asleep on Saturday then never wake up, now that the their digital food supply has been shut down by a legal battle. The player-made and player-sold Ozimals brand of digirabbits are virtual pets that players breed and care for in the sandbox MMO, and even need to feed by buying DRM-protected virtual food. But they rely on servers. Waypoint reported earlier today that the seller of Ozimals and the Pufflings virtuabirds has received a legal threat he says he cannot afford to fight, so they’ve shut down. By Saturday, rabbits will run out of food and enter hibernation.

The rabbits aren’t dead, they’re sleeping. They simply can never wake up.

The ‘breedables‘ craze, which Ozimals played a big role in, may have peaked a while back but a lot of virtual animals still exist. Well, for now. If digirabbits can’t eat, they enter ‘hibernation’ after 72 hours and will only wake up when fed again. Ozimals need to check in with servers but these shut down on Wednesday, so no rabbits can be fed. Even players who’ve bought a big supply of food will find their rabbits, er, very still forever. I’ve read that some are already gone.

At least the Ozimals’ birdy cousins, the Pufflings, had a swift death. They shut down instantly on Wednesday when the servers went down, while rabbits hold on with the food in their cyberbellies.

Ozimals did give rabbit owners a brief chance to save their rabbits. Before shutting down, they gave away items which make rabbits not need food – and leaves them sterile. Some rabbits will live on forever, the last of their kind. If you wish that fate upon your rabbit, apparently some kindly players have a stash you’re welcome to.

That’s a fun/tragic and quirky story about Second Life, isn’t it? That ol’ wild frontier of cyberspace. For a while, Second Life and EVE were shoulder-to-shoulder at one exciting experimental edge of digital societies. EVE Online had the intrigue and the murder, and Second Life had the creativity and the sex. But as much as people like to place dollar values on EVE battles, Second Life has always been the one with serious money riding on it. And the death big sleep of these rabbit is a business story.

Ozimals and Pufflings overlord ‘Malkavyn Eldritch’ said in Tuesday’s blog post:

“At 8:00 am on Monday, May 15, 2017, I received a Cease and Desist letter from legal counsel representing Edward Distelhurst and Akimeta Ltd. This letter demands that I cease all use of Ozimals intellectual property.

“I don’t personally agree with this claim, but I do not have the means to fight this in court, therefore I have no choice but to comply.”

And that’s it. The Ozimals business is gone, its site is deleted, Pufflings are inert, rabbits will soon follow unless cursed with immortality, and all money spent is gone.

What kind of monster would use lawyers to murder virtual rabbits? Well!

“We feel that because they have named us by our real life entities, and identities, they have willfully made us a target of their communities’ understandably upset feelings,” Distelhurst and Akimeta say in a public letter, going on to tell their sides of the story.

Akimeta’s side is fairly simple. In 2009 and 2010, Akhmeta made models and textures for rabbits, accessories, and other bits and pieces they licensed to the company Ozimals LLC. Akhmeta say that Ozimals the company was dissolved last year but the person currently running Ozimals the game has kept using their work and that’s not covered by the old license. Simple!

Edward Distelhurst’s story is messier. A programmer who worked on the game, he has been in a legal battle for six years over alleged unpaid royalties. It’s a tale including multiple settlements, a court order for Ozimals to sell their second house to cover debts, Ozimals’ legal battle with the makers of virtual horses, Distelhurst receiving a majority share after Ozimals don’t sell the house, and… it’s quite the read.

Eldritch, Akimeta, and Distelhurst are obviously telling their own stories. I’m not saying who’s right and who’s wrong. But mate, if you think Internet spaceships are serious business – they’ve got nothing on Internet rabbits.

27 Comments

  1. gwop_the_derailer says:

    What a time to be alive…

  2. iriscal says:

    “The rabbits aren’t dead, they’re sleeping. They simply can never wake up.”

    This rabbit is no more! He has ceased to be! He’s expired and gone to meet his maker! He’s a stiff! Bereft of life, he rests in peace! His metabolic processes are now history! He’s off the twig! He’s kicked the bucket, he’s shuffled off his mortal coil, run down the curtain and joined the bleedin’ choir invisible!! THIS IS AN EX-RABBIT!!

    • Premium User Badge

      tigerfort says:

      It’s not dead, it’s pining for the fjords.

      • Replikant says:

        That’s a palindrome, isn’t it?

        • Premium User Badge

          tigerfort says:

          Michael isn’t actually the same forwards as backwards, if you look closely; he’s only got a nose on the front.

    • GameOverMan says:

      “It is not life as we know or understand it. Yet it is obviously alive, it exists.”

  3. automatic says:

    EVE online could have bunnies too if it wasn’t for those pesky kids. link to eurogamer.net

  4. dangermouse76 says:

    They’ve gone to the farm damit.

  5. Cvnk says:

    And here I thought I was past being surprised by Second Life stories.

  6. WJonathan says:

    The ones with the downturned ears are the saddest.

  7. April March says:

    What’s most surprising in this is that a man named Edward Distelhurst doesn’t solving this problem by, like, driving a Pontiac GTO through the litigator’s skylights, firing a sawed-off shotgun and shouting “LET MY BUNNIES BE!!” Does anyone have Vin Diesel’s phone number?

  8. poliovaccine says:

    “The rabbits aren’t dead, they’re sleeping. They simply can never wake up.” Holy hell, I am still laughing at that.

  9. Premium User Badge

    teije says:

    I believed your story until you mentioned Distelhurst. Putting virtual bunnies into a litigation coma, sure. But Distelhurst the disgruntled developer? Come on now.

  10. FurryLippedSquid says:

    It’s Watership Down all over again.

  11. wombat191 says:

    the great culling of 2017 :(

  12. Colthor says:

    DRM murders bunnies.

  13. egattocs says:

    I blame the government. First fox hunting, then the badger cull and now this!

  14. LionsPhil says:

    I think the real “blame” here is that Second Life is a virtual world where hunger and food scarcity isn’t a thing, and yet DRM found a way to make sure it could be reintroducted so people could turn a profit from it. That guy coulda just sold rabbits; he coulda made them able to eat anything matching a publicly-defined “food” interface so there could be competition in the virtual rabbit nutrition market; but no, he wanted that delicious vendor-lockin revenue stream.

  15. Heliocentric says:

    This is why I only buy DRM free bunnies.

  16. ThornEel says:

    That is not dead which can eternal lie
    And with strange aeons even death may die

  17. Turkey says:

    Unfortunately the code is so deep in the second life matrix that their only option is to introduce a species of bolivian tree lizards that feeds on rabbits.

  18. rustybroomhandle says:

    Someone gave me a Tamagotchi-alike keychain as a gag gift. It has a little plastic tab that you have to pull out like a hand grenade pin, which connects the battery and basically makes it come alive. This was three years ago and I refuse to pull out that tab. A thing cannot die if it never lived, damnit!

  19. geldonyetich says:

    If it bothers him that badly, he could just release a version without the need for micropayments. They’ll be bandied about Second Life forever without need to pay for them. Can’t sue over no quantifiable damages.

    I’m actually sort of surprised Linden Labs’ is protecting their IP enough for two third parties to have a legal battle over content that runs on their servers. What’s their angle on this? To legitimize their digital playpen as being something more, probably.

  20. whispersmagic says:

    I noticed neo posted stuff let’s see this license she keeps talking about. It doesn’t exist if we don’t see it.

  21. vivlo says:

    i do’nt understand, why don’t they change their name ?