That sort of sounds like a title for a science fiction movie… I think this, Dark Metaverse, is a term coined by Maria Korolov of Hypergrid Business in: Estimate: 50,000 regions in ‘dark metaverse’. Daniel Voyager comments in the article and takes the stats a bit farther in: Updated graphs on the size of SL and OpenSim grids 2014.
The idea behind the name, Dark Metaverse, is that there are more virtual worlds out there than we know about. Those not reporting stats are ‘dark’, meaning we can’t see them. We just barely know they exist. As to how many users and how much use they get, we can only speculate.
In Daniel’s article he makes a statement similar in concept to something we often hear; ‘I do hope for growth in Second Life regions this year or next year because that will be good for the Second Life economy as a whole and good in terms of numbers.
While people leasing more regions is good for Linden Lab, I’m not sure that more regions are good for the virtual world; Second Life. The more room residents have to roam in, the less likely they are to meet others. We have the Chun-Yuen Teng’s and Lada A. Adamic’s published paper: Longevity in Second Life to show player retention is very much a factor of how many interactions a player has.
There is probably some balance point at which more regions decrease player retention and below which crowding causes enough unpleasant interactions to decrease retention. I have yet to find that study. So, we can only speculate. I thing we are most likely above the balance point. So, I am not convinced more regions is a good thing for SL’s player retention.
I do believe more ‘players/users’ would be a good thing. I also think player retention is the key issue for Linden Lab to solve. From all I see, I think, the Lab is focused on just that. From my perspective ever since Rod Humble took over the Lab has been targeting obstacles to player retention. The big obstacles have been lag and ease-of-use. Big improvements have been made in 2012 and 2013.
So, while everyone focuses on how many regions the various virtual worlds have, I believe, the really important numbers are about how many people are in a virtual world and stay there.