What’s Nintendo Doing in Second Life?

Here’s the metaverse mystery of the week: This strange new private island with a very familiar name recently emerged on the server grid of virtual world Second Life. Spotted yesterday by Second Life blogger Tateru Nino (and confirmed when I checked the world’s dynamic map today), we have to assume it’s an official Nintendo property. When someone buys a virtual island from Linden Lab, they also get to name it. Given Linden’s DMCA enforcement policy, it’s unlikely they’d let just anyone dub an island “Nintendo.”

But that just adds to the puzzle. Unlike console competitors Microsoft and Sony, Nintendo has few properties directly tied to the PC market, and last February, Nintendo President Satoru Iwata said they had no interest in adding an MMO to its Wii system. Nintendo’s U.S. president, Reggie Fils-Aime, said they wanted the Wii to appeal to crossover demographics “very much like the Second Life audience,” so maybe it’s just a virtual marketing site, like Microsoft’s Xbox island.

Here’s a more tantalizing possibility: A German firm has created a Wii-to-SL interface for the treadmill, and developers with Japan’s Softbank have created a Wii-like accelerometer game in Second Life, so maybe Nintendo is cooking up some interesting new product feature. Neither Linden Lab nor Nintendo’s PR firm replied to our queries by publication time, however, and the island’s off-limits to outsiders. For all we know, the Hanso Foundation is involved.