Second Life Maker Linden Lab Buys Desura For Games Distribution, Plans To Keep It Open

Linden Lab is continuing with its mini-acquisition spree in gaming: it has just announced that it is buying Desura, a Australia-based digital distribution service for PC gamers. Terms of the acquisition were not disclosed, but it follows on from the company’s acquisition of LittleTextPeople in February 2012 and Blocksworld in January of this year. Linden Lab says it will keep Desura operating for now: “The service will continue uninterrupted for current customers as the team and technology become a part of Linden Lab,” it notes in an emailed statement announcing the deal.

The move underscores the transformation that Linden Lab has been making under CEO Rod Humble, who took the reins in 2011 amid declining usage for Second Life, the web-based virtual world that took the online gaming and social worlds by storm after it first launched in 2003. That has included a shift into more mobile experiences, as well as monetizable games experiences.

Desura is not a games maker itself but provides all other services around them. Specifically, users can buy and play games, get free access to mods and add-ons, use the platform to distribute their own games if they’re developers, and use the platform to create a social layer around games for communicating with other players.

“Desura’s talented team, thriving business, and impressive technology are a great fit for Linden Lab,” said Humble in a statement. “This acquisition gives us a global platform for serving creative developers of all kinds, and we’re looking forward to growing both Desura’s global community of gamers and its fantastic portfolio of thousands of games, mods, and other content. Our aim is to invest and support the Desura team in making it the most open and developer-friendly platform in the world.” It’s not clear how many users Desura has today.

The move also puts Linden Lab more squarely in competition against the likes of Steam from Valve and Origin, owned by EA.

As we note here, it’s not clear how Desura will be utilized longer-term — whether it will remain as a standalone entity or merge with something else out of the Linden Lab. It notes that Blockworld, the iPad game it acquired earlier this year, will soon be released globally. Besides Second Life, Linden Lab also offers a “3D universe” called Patterns; the tablet and mobile game Creatorverse; an online creative space called dio; and interactive fiction “experience” called Versu, which “makes the reader a part of a living story.”

Linden Lab to date has raised $19 million from Benchmark, Omidyar Network, Jeff Bezos and others; Desura has raised considerably less: only $100,000.