Monday, April 21, 2008

What Linden Labs Isn't Telling You... Or Anyone

For various personal reasons I won't bore you with here, I've been spending a LOT of time in Second Life lately, mainly as an easy means to escape reality. (Don't worry, I'm feeling much better now.) I've been registered in Second Life for over a year now, but only recently have I indulged in binge behavior -- and by binge I mean logging into SL at 11pm on a Saturday and not coming up for air until 5am on a Sunday.

In the course of this binge period I noticed quite a few things about SL. Now, you've probably already reached these conclusions yourself, but bear with me, I am the newbie after all.

1. It's about the people
Every time you log in to Second Life there are chipper little updates from Linden Labs announcing this or that upgrade or improvement to the grid. Some are noticable (a recent forced update did result in smoother avatar movement, a better chat function, and a more easily-accessed search function, for me at least), some are not. These improvements are all very nice, however, the true value in Second Life is with the people. What good is a better chat function if there are no people logged on with which I can chat? I'm not just talking about my contacts list either -- I wasn't surprised to find that everyone I know has better things to do than hang about in SL for six hours early Sunday morning -- but just folks in general, to meet, chat with, interact with.

2. Where are all the people?
Which leads me to my second observation: where the heck is everybody?? Linden Labs touts SL membership as being in the millions, but I've only ever seen about 40-50K logged on at any given time. During my binge period, I met someone new almost every time I logged into SL, which is great -- that's partly why I was there -- but in subsequent visits, they were nowhere to be found. I met probably half a dozen brand-new SL members and happily showed them around, helped them out -- and never saw them come online again. So where are these millions? Is it as I suspect -- people are joining, checking it out once or twice, and never coming back?

Is that why Linden Labs won't say how many registered users are actually using SL? What is the login ratio to registered users anyway? I'm just curious. Because I do still think that Second Life has great potential as a social network; it's just not quite there yet, and all the minor upgrades and improvements Linden Labs is committed to making won't help it to tip into the mainstream -- people will.


mynameiskate said...

There are a couple of places you can find some of this info.

First, LL keeps a page of stats at

This will show # of residents logged in the last 7, 14, 30 and 60 days.

They also track, among several other interesting stats, total hours of use per month - as well as hours of use sliced with gender, age and country data. The most recent post about it is from January - you can find it here which has links to their Google docs where they keep the info.

There is also a post about user hours and concurrency in a recent overall economy update here

Most folks acknowledge that the millions of avatars isn't a real number as it relates to people. Several people have more than on avatar. And several people only created an avatar so they could participate in promotions sponsored by shows like CSI and Gossip Girl (random FYI - it was only after CSI aired its recent episode that the country with the most avatars was the US - it used to be Germany).

Reuters in SL has a really great post talking about how even though enrolments in SL are starting to taper, the economy is actually growing. There is a lot more virtual world competition for SL now, but those who have made the investment in it are sticking with it.

Part of the issue is that Linden provides the raw data and then some others have to take the time to crunch it. There are a couple of good blogs that do this - but LL doesn't always release the data in a timely fashion.

Secondly, the technical issues of the grid are HUGE right now. LL has made some statements about this. How they were in a PUSH mode and now they are going to settle into a STABILIZE mode for a while.

Part of this plan is community building which is why Torley Linden is posting video tutorials like crazy and why they have stepped up efforts like their Dept of Public Works (to build out public spaces) plus activities like institute a Day of Remembrance that was started after the death of a very popular designer.

They're trying to reach out, I think, but the technical problems are killing them. Content creators are very upset b/c the issues are hurting their livelihood. And stabilizing that has to be their first priority.

I hope that gives you some additional info!

Cheers .. Kate

mynameiskate said...

Oh, I think some of my URLS are too big. Ugh.

January Economics

Q1 Growth

Reuters Story