Disadvantages to Second Life as a universal communication medium.
- High cost barrier to entry
Second Life requires expensive computer hardware, including a fast, modern computer and expensive video card not found in typical workstation or laptop computers. It also requires fast broadband internet access, which is not available to many users. These are barriers of entry to those who cannot afford a modern computer and extra hardware for gaming. See System Requirements.
- High resource use
As a communication medium, Second Life has high bandwidth, storage and computer power requirements in order to facilitate a 3D world with complicated colours, textures, sounds and avatars (virtual clothing and appearance for users) which aren’t necessary for a communication medium. As a result, the interface loads and runs slowly and requires more resources when compared to other communication mediums such as email, IRC and instant messaging.
- Central commercial control of virtual world
Even though the Second Life client is an open source application, in order to interact in the virtual world known as Second Life one must still connect to a server owned and controlled by the company Linden Research, Inc. It is this company that has access to and the ability to record all interactions happening within the Second Life world, and the existence and integrity of the world is owned by this company. By contrast, communication mediums such as email are based on open standards and do not rely on communication with any one commercially owned server in order to function.
- Cost of owning real estate
Leasing land on Second Life costs real money, and the market for such land is fully controlled by the Second Life publishers. Thus any organisation wishing to establish a permanent presence in the Second Life must pay whatever fees the publishers wish to charge. There is no competition because it is wholly controlled by one company.
- Unfamiliar interface
While many people are familiar with 3D worlds through playing computer games, to most people a 3D computer-game-style world is entirely unfamiliar. The generation-Y stereotype portrays young people as all being more comfortable in 3D virtual worlds than any other medium. Indeed, media coverage of MMORPGs such as World of Warcraft and EverQuest seem to support this stereotype. However, is this nearly as ubiquitous a medium among young people as the stereotype implies?
For those few people who are fortunate enough to have a gaming-spec computer at home and occasionally play MMO (massively multiplayer online) games, Second Life will seem boring, slow and clunky by contrast. Second Life is not as slick as what online gamers have come to expect.