Improving Second Life Player Retention

Even easier you can visit the region named: Barks and get properly sized and proportioned shapes made by Penny. Plus she has a free Ruth to Ravishing kit. Get the Landmark and hand it out to new users in SL.

To understand the art of making a shape see Penny’s: Penny’s Shape-Making Guide (Abridged).

Scale of Building In-World. Penny wrote an article on this point titled: A Matter of Scale. Penny explains how our currently wacked up avatar size uses up additional real estate and drives up the cost of land ownership. By building to scale land looks bigger and we can put more in the same space. Her idea is we need less land and thus we can save money.

Penny practices what she preaches. Check out her builds; The Island of Milk & Cream and Doomed Ship. Milk & Cream will give you a funny insight to the name and a new meaning to the name cowgirl. This is an Adult region and can get lewd. Doomed Ship is also an Adult area, but it is all enclosed spaces.

Default Camera Placement – This is another problem that Penny has written about before. The problem of the default camera placement creates distractions and detracts from the immersive nature of SL. She wrote: Improving the SL Camera (Short Version) which is a remake of the original article that inspired me to write: Second Life Camera Position Tips. These changes can greatly improve your experience of Second Life.

Penny thinks addressing these problems will begin to improve player retention. She may be right. But, I think her second article has more a more productive idea.

Delivering Content

The second part of her analysis is: A Critical Look At Second Life – Part 2 – “Bringing Content to People”.

In the second article Penny follows up with a look at delivering content to users. She is addressing the often heard complaint: ‘There is nothing to do.’ She is NOT on about a poorly performing Market Place. In the sense Penny is using the word ‘content’ she means the content of the SL World, places and things.

In the article she discusses:

Destination Guide – Surely you have seen it. Penny’s point is: don’t wait for them to find it, show them how to open it. Have the viewer do a bit of training during the first login.

Interest Tags – We have ‘interests’ listed in our profiles. Penny believes how these are used could be improved.  She points out they could be extend to groups, land, events, and the Market Place. Penny explains how that might done while avoiding spamming. Events could automatically post in groups with similar interests. Allow people personal calendars and the ability to copy/paste event listings to and from their and others calendars. Check out her article for details. I think these are great ideas and I’ll explain why.

My Thoughts

I came to Second Life as a D’ni Refugee, a group of us looking for a new home because of a virtual world that closed, Myst Online: Uru Live. It has sense reopened.

For years the Myst community debated how to get more people playing Uru and save the game. It really doesn’t take years to learn most people put their personal ideas out with little if any though, research or experience. There is no reason to think the SL community is any different.

However, numerous academics have studied Second Life and its users. So, we do actually know what keeps people in a game and specifically what keeps them in Second Life. But, knowing what keeps people in a game does not tell us how to best implement the knowledge.

We can predict which people are most likely to stay and most likely to leave. Chun-Yuen Teng’s and Lada A. Adamic’s published paper: Longevity in Second Life. It is referenced on Lada Adamic’s page on her web site.

In the study they say, “Rather than looking at initial interactions, we aim to predict which users are likely to leave, and base our predictions on the structure, intensity, and profitability of a user’s activity.”

Their direction of view is similar to Penny’s. The researchers went through and looked at as many measurable metrics of life Second Life as available. The Lab helped with the study and provided the raw data it is based on. Those metrics were compared to the longevity of players to find the part of their experience that was unique to players that stayed the longest.

These studies use the scientific method to sort out our preconceptions and assumptions. They replace them with facts and objective information that can be turned into an actionable plan. For anyone looking at improving player retention in SL or for that matter in their region, this is the most helpful reading of which I know.

The short story is the Teng & Alamic study shows that in a broad sense and for a majority of all people the factors influencing player retention comes down to player interaction and how many friends one makes. Or as the author’s simplified it: the more chat conversations and partners one has the more likely they are to stay in SL.

Penny’s ideas for improving the use of Interest Tags and connecting more people with their interests and people with people of similar interests would build on the Teng & Alamic insights better than most other suggestions and ideas I have heard.

While I think several of Penny’s suggestions would help Second Life’s player retention only the improved use of Interest Tags is likely to lead to a marked increase in chat conversations and simplify finding and making friends. The meet ups with people of similar interest, I believe, are likely to create longer term conversations and interactions. These are the only things that studies have shown have a pronounced and consistent affect on player retention.

The study is not the be-all end-all on player retention. But, it does point what is working to keep people in SL. So… do more of that.

Effecting Change

If people want to see Second Life change, their choice is to hope someone will make it change for them or to work at changing it. It’s hope verses work.

While I think all of Penny’s suggestions will help, I think the real gold is in how Interest Tags could be used.

I’ve started a couple of threads in the SL forum: UPDATECommerce Forum-Merchants: Finding the Right People and Places – Sales – People-Make Friends: Finding the Right People and Places

I plan to submit a feature request in the JIRA. UPDATEBUG-1078 – Feature Request – Improved Interest Tag Use for Player Retention.

If you would like to see use of Interest Tags improved, comment her, in the threads, and if you can’t see JIRA item BUG-1078 post a feature request and refer to it.

16 thoughts on “Improving Second Life Player Retention

  1. Grrrrrr… that bugreport link on page 2 gives a Permission Violation, which means they’ve irresponsibly hid another one of the bug reports again.

    • They don’t hide ‘another.’ All BUG items are only readable be they who file it. Sucks.

  2. I have a funny idea about improving player rentention. Imagine you would not be able to copy objects as often as you like and you would not be able to rez an unlimited amount of prims, but you would have to mine raw materials for them before. The Lindens would create a huge new continent for mining. Serveral raw materials would be introduced, e.g. wood, iron, water, stone etc. Those you use to create objects in SL. So rather then going camping in the past, mining would become something that is typically done by newbies. They mine raw materials and sell them in a special marketplace to content creators, which then use them to create complex objects like cars, houses, clothes etc. Once you have designed something, you would be able to copy it and sell it in marketplace or your shop, with the only difference that you always need to have enough raw materials in stock. That way newbies could make their first money and had something fun to do, they would be paid by content creators who in turn would be paid by the consumers of the products. There would just be a new layer to the SL economy. As you can see in other games, mining is a typical activity for newbies and can be designed to be a lot of fun and very exciting. You could even ship the raw materials to the inworld shops of the creators. Products in SL would finally become scarce just like in the real world economy, which no doubt is very successful and the opposide of boring.
    Just a fun idea that I had, when reading your article;)

  3. You may find this article I wrote about how I see the retention issue also interesting;

  4. I share the belief that shared communication is the key to retaining users. LL has all the pieces in place, it’s just not connected together. I wrote down my ideas back in July

  5. I believe after performance, Linden Lab needs to take a long hard look at their business model.

    If Second Life is supposed to be a “shared creativity” platform, the only business model that can ever make sense is one where the more people create and share, the more money Linden Lab makes.

    YouTube for example can be summed up as a “shared creativity” platform as well. Because of YouTube’s business model, the amount of money it makes is directly proportional to the amount of minutes video is watched. So it’s in Google’s every interest to let creators make longer, higher definition videos, and rather than burden creators with an abstraction called “tier” to cover the costs of disk space, bandwidth and CPU time for encoding, hosting and streaming video, Google in fact PAYS its creators via ad revenue splits.

    Yes, YouTube only deals in one content type, video, and Second Life is a completely different beast, but server costs are server costs, employee wages are empoyee wages, and anyone’s 100 prims of Premium land out in the middle of no where isn’t going to consume more disk space and bandwidth than even 20 minutes of video uploaded to YouTube for free that’ll be there forever.

    Now I know Linden Lab can’t embed Google Ads in the viewer or on prims or something and viola, the more prims the more money give everyone free land and call it a day. They can’t do that, but Second Life also can’t exist indefinitely with a business model of Linden Lab not being able to lower tier prices because it hurts them rather than help them. There’s 300 some minds at Linden Lab, a few legends on the board of directors, and they need to figure this out.

  6. I have 2 relevant suggestions:
    – There should be an appearance slider that would Scale your overall avatar, maintaining proportions while changing overall size. That is very difficult with the current controls we have.
    – For those of us in the US, a selection in the build panel Metric/English. I for one find metric non-intuitive, everything in my RL is in feet and inches.

    • The sliders don’t use either… But, you can have it give height in feet or meters. It is very consistent, both are wrong…

      A proportional scale would be nice. When I changed my avatar from 6-2 to 5-10 it was a pain.

      Even when I work in meters, I convert to feet or inches so I can get a sense of size.

    • I have grown and live in the metric world. For me it is very difficult to get a sense of size from inches, feet and miles. The fractions of inches – I’m totally lost with them. Metric system is very straight forward as it is ten based between units.
      1 meter = 10 decimeters = 100 centimeters = 1000 millimeters. In 1 kilometer there are 1000 meters. Even a child can easily understand that. Naturally to understand and to get a sense of scale of either the imperial or metric system one needs to have had grown with it.
      It could be so much easier for you imperial system users if you made the radical decision – finally – and switched to the metric one. Calculations with it are very easy and a joy. 😉

  7. Pingback: The End of Second Life? | Nalates' Things & Stuff

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