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Second Life Still Alive and Kicking

Virtual World Continues to Thrive

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Remember Second Life? While the virtual world disappeared from the media spotlight some time ago, it’s alive and well and continues to attract a new member every second.

A few months back you couldn’t escape media coverage of the brave new virtual world of Second Life. Major brands were building virtual HQ’s, holding virtual meetings and developing virtual marketing campaigns. Coca-Cola, IBM and even the NBA was making its second home there.

However, all’s quiet on the Second Life media front nowadays, and many have long been watching what they believe to be the demise of the once-hyped world. But is it really on the virtual scrapheap?

Second Life

Not according to Linden Lab chief executive Mark Kingdon. "You read those stories; as CEO I have to shake my head," he said. "The reality is that Second Life continues to grow; every second someone joins. Second Life is hopping."

So what are the virtual world’s current stats? According to recent reports:

- There are more than 15,000 merchants selling virtual goods.

- Over US$1.3 million worth of transactions take place each day.

- In January this year, residents spent 41.5 million hours immersed in Second Life compared with 28.3 million in January, 2008.

- The virtual world boasts over 15 million registered users.

- On average, 70,000 people are logged on to Second Life at any one time.

- The number of active users has risen 25% since September, 2008.

Just last week, Second Life’s blog announced plans to clean up the virtual streets by moving adult content and activity onto its own continent.  While estimates show that just 2%-4% of activity in Second Life would be construed as too sexy for minors, the move will mean residents can feel more comfortable about their environment, safe in the knowledge they won’t be tripping over avatars shooting-up or engaging in lewd sex acts. According to a report in the Washington Post, the “adult continent” will require age verification before it can be accessed. 

Perhaps, despite the lack of hype and media-coverage, there is still life left in the virtual world yet.

Second Life Still Alive and Kicking
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  • Guest

    Figures for Second Life usage cannot be relied upon. Nor can Kingdon’s hype.

    It’s a known fact that SL’s usage figures are gamed by the company. The “15 million users” in fact refers to the total number of ACCOUNTS created during the 6 years SL has been operating; thus is unreliable on 2 counts:

    1. Many of said accounts are inactive. In fact, many people log in to SL perhaps three or four times before leaving it altogether – but there accounts remain, and are counted as “users”.

    2. The figure fails to consider the large number of “Alts” (alternatives accounts) individual users hold. So one person could have 2 (sometimes 3 or 4) accounts, which Linden Lab count as individual “users”.

    The daily usage figures also cannot be trusted, as they fail to differentiate between actual users, people running multiple sessions with different avatars (Alts) and the widespread use of bots.

    The “60 day” totals cannot be trusted, because they are again based on logins, not users. Given that someone can log-in to SL perhaps 3 times a day, and each time counts towards the “60 day” figure – it is easy to see how LL game this number to imply popularity.

    The fact remains that while new user registrations are rising, user RETENTION remains a major issue for SL. Any casual visit to the world and a walk through its mainland environments will reveal that given up to 70K of people are supposed to be online at any given moment, massive tracts of the environment remain deserted day in, day out.

    As to the “clean up” of “adult content”, it seems likely that LL are going to re-harsh the upset they caused at the end of 2008, when they announced a phased 67% increase in maintenance costs for their “low use” sim product. At that time there was a mass exodus from SL; and the land market in-world took a massive hit.

    A similar price hike is anticipated come July, when they reveal 2 “new” sim products – or if not a hike, the current $295-a-month “full” sims will have their performance capabilities severely cut, and a new “super sim” offering a little more than the performance of the current “full” sims will be introduced at an increased monthly cost ($350USD, anyone?).

    Many of those looking further afield for virtual world opportunities are some of SL’s most well-known content providers. With other environments finally starting to get their act together in terms of financial backing, DMCA, IP, and content permissioning, the “clean up” of “adult” content could push a lot more of SL’s stalwarts into moving elsewhere.

    • Guest Today

      I agree with Guest’s analysis, and from anecdotal evidence. I go on SL from time to time and have friends on SL. I’ve known several who have left or cut down their usage. Most have several accounts, Alts, plus I know of old abandoned user and Alt accounts that are still listed, and therefore “users” per SL. Talking to some business owners, they say business has slowed down – actually started slowing about a year ago. Still, there’s always new users coming online, to make up some of the slack. Regardless, the user numbers are way overstated by SL, for sure.

  • Guest

    In this time of economic challenge, it appears to me that business has not fully comprehended the need for technological integration in their business models. Second Life and virtual environments are a part of this integration. Properly considering resources and implementation is key in fully utilizing the tools and potential of Second Life. As the future economies become more clear, integrating all of these technologies will be essentail for any business. Certainly, the company that conceives of the breakthrough in doing this will be among the leaders.

    Second Life has grown tremendously, and will continue to grow. The potential for its use is too great to disappear. It concerns me that there continue to be unvalidated attacks from unknown sources. Clearly, there are companies that would prefer Second Life not to succeed. The possible competition with major media providers is too great not to be ignored.

    The tools available to every user of Second Life are so varied, average users are able to create content equal to or greater interest than the pablum spoon fed to us by major media outlets everyday. The true potential of Second Life is the liberation of the average user.

  • http://www.socialresearchfoundation.org Andrew Mallon

    You can download a free copy of our 2008 Second Life usage survey results at http://socialresearchfoundation.org/report/index.html

    Our foundation runs First Opinions Panel, the largest consumer research panel in Second Life with 13,000 members. Our panelists are in SL an average of one or more hours per day.