Second Life: No Interest?

With concurrent user count recently peaking at 57,000± and user group meeting attendance low I think it is fair to ask if people are losing interest in what’s happening in Second LifeTM. The answer is one of those things that is very subjective, because it is so difficult to get objective or complete information. So, most answers are opinion.

We see attendance at user group meetings at 10 to 25 people. Yet, we see 4 regions fill up for Firestorm meetings. The video above shows the casting call for Project Bento. About 10 people attended and 4 of use were bloggers or people managing the event. 

How many were at Lab Chat today? All the blogs I read were promoting it. All those blogs were promoting the Bento casting call too. I expected a good turnout at Lab Chat. 10:30 AM SLT/PST at these regions; LEA2, LEA3, LEA4. Inara Pey will have a transcript of the meeting and it will be recorded to video, which will be available later.

At the last Lab Chat it was said there were about 180± attendees. This morning the attendee regions for the chat meeting are full, about 120+. A fourth region LEA1 is for the facilitators and interviewees, I think, and has about 16 people.

Those 130 people were a small part of the 42,762 then currently logged in and make up only 0.3%. Not many percentage-wise. But, we can’t know how many are trying to get in. Often we have an idea as people line up at the region boundary. Today it looks like about 3 people. But, there is no way for us (users) to know how many have tried to TP via world map, the Destination Guide, or a SLURL.

Does this show a lack of interest in SL? Or… is it more about how hard it is to get people’s attention? I think the later. But, comparing Lab Chat and the Bento casting call may be more an indication of people’s interest in specific parts of SL. Isn’t hearing from Linden Lab CEO more exciting than learning about which bones will be added to the SL avatar? I suppose that depends on your interests.

Another aspect of SL that I notice is Flickr. I like visual images. So, most days I look at my Flickr page a couple of times a day, something I enjoy. I follow 271 people (for now). From those I get more images than I can see every day. Meaning if I only look twice a day, the are so many new pictures they fill my ‘home’ page and I would need to click more to the rest of the images I have yet to see. Some are posting new images every few hours. If I search on ‘Second Life’ at Flickr there are well over 500 new images per day. It only takes about 250 to fill up the first page of results in the Everyone section. Then you start clicking MORE and looking for the last image uploaded today. I stopped at about 500 images.

Flickr SL 2016 January

Flickr SL 2016 January

I think that is a lot of new images. Consider. World of WarcraftTM has 5 million (depend on when the count is published, it was going down last I checked) monthly active subscribers. Guess how many WoW images were posted to day? (Comparing SL and WoW about 2 PM PST) …




That is 500+ for SL to 1 for WoW. So, I can’t say image posting is a good measure of peoples interest… I will venture to say we definitely have more active photographers in SL.

A search on ‘Second Life fan sites’ produces 140 million hits on Google. A search on ‘World of Warcraft fan sites’ produces 840,000 hits. Changing the terms I can get up to 1.5 million for WoW. But, that is still only 1.07% of the ‘fan sites’ SL has. But, the term “Second Life” may produce unreliable results. I’ve always thought the Lab created that name without thinking how it would place in search results. Way too much dilution on that name.

With 5 million paying subscribers I think it safe to say there is more interest in WoW than SL. But, 140 million fan sites? Well, there may be a lot of hits per site…

Just searching on ‘World of Warcraft’ there are 65 million hits. Adding ‘game’ cuts that to 29 million. Searching on “Second Life” yields 18 million hits. Adding ‘game’ cuts it to 2.8 million. These numbers seem more in line with what few user numbers we know. Do the numbers suggest there is ten times more interest in WoW than SL? May be.

There is really nothing to tell us whether Second Life is losing users, static, or gaining users. We have so little information one could speculate whichever way they want.

I do see a continuing drop in peak concurrent users. But, the rate of decrease is decreasing. At least for the years I’ve been tracking it. But, that doesn’t tell us a lot. I say that because with the introduction of mesh the ratio of time in-world verses time in Blender/Maya changed. We have never had good numbers on unique user logins since mesh. So, the total time a user spends on SL oriented activity is hard to know.

We do know that with the introduction of mesh peak concurrency dropped. The Lab tells us that the number of users didn’t drop, just the time in-world. You’ll have to decide how believable you find that. I tend to believe it because it matches my personal experience. But, am I representative? Probably not.

We also don’t know the ratio of creative designers making content to users not creating content.

In all, I think the question of whether people are losing interest in SL has no objective or factual answer. I doubt even the Lab could answer the question because of in-world verses Blender/Maya time allocation. The Lab can measure in-world time. But, they have to speculate on Blender/Maya time. While I think they could do some interesting analysis of time in-world based on those uploading content, they would need a pre-mesh baseline. Still, there would be considerable speculation.

26 thoughts on “Second Life: No Interest?

  1. There are many reasons why the casting call was poorly attended.

    As Neobokrug mentions, timing is one factor; a lot of folks will not be home during the day, even though there was a lot of lead-time and announcements via Plurk, Twitter and the SL Blog.

    Additionally, however, Bento has only been publicly available for about a month and changes are still in the works. Content creators are generally very conservative when it comes to new technologies that are still in beta; even more so when the immediate benefits might not be apparent to those creating content solely for human avatars (which makes up a large percentage of avatar-based content creation, from what I can tell). This has always been the case. It was for sculpties, it was for mesh, it was for materials. Many content creators even now shirk the usage of materials because we don’t have solid numbers to show how many people use it.

    From my own perspective as a non-human avatar creator, I’ve been hesitant to throw my energy in to finishing my centaur av because I worry that the rig will change, rendering my animation work useless. Additionally, since I work on a wide variety of other content to provide my income, setting aside time to work on experimental content (which may or may not break between now and release) is a *huge* gamble! There are simply so many demands on my time already; putting in work on experimental content at this time is effectively working for free, with no garantee of immediate returns.

    There will always be some push and pull between development on LL’s side and content creation/testing on the User side, but frankly i don’t think one can expect to see a plethora of in-progress or complete works using Bento just yet; if LL intends for such to be featured and promoted so early in the development process, perhaps some sort of incentive would be in order, or maybe they should engage an independent contractor to produce content that tests the limits of the new technology.

  2. Reaching out to the SL userbase is hard. I think its possible to skip through the day in SL and not notice anything thats going on in the larger community. The amount of things i have to post events to just tha catch a small crowd, facebook, twitter, blogging, flickr, Drax, multiple group notices. Even in my own lil sub community i still meet people who havent heard of labchat. Maybe if LL sent out a weekly newsletter via email, twitter, that included , events, destinations, and news such as labchat, plot posts. Get their userbase informed. I doubt the lab has anyone spare to work on such a thing though.

    • I agree. it is difficult catching people attention. A lot of work often produces little response.

  3. Missing one other cause hat could drop the user count. Secondlife land is very expensive, that is a anchor on creativity too. Because the high tier and mabey other smaller reasons. People started to look at cheaper alternatives. That works the same as secondlife.

    So how much influence have the high tier on the user count ?

    • There isn’t a good way I know of to measure the affect. Tier cost has been pretty constant. So, we have little change to analyze.

      • that is sort of the problem. tier cost have been constant while the rl economy falters. i have also noticed alot of shifting to opensim and such for many. i dont see it as viable myself. but for those interested only in land cost i can see why. theres alot sl can do that you still cant do in opensim though and when you got such a huge userbase many wont bother with grids where theres only maybe 10 people on at a time

        • I think the RL economy has affected SL. In response the only affect I can see on the Lab is the Lab trying to add value to SL to keep and attract customers. They haven’t reduced tier. They have for the most part been able to survive without having to lower prices. But, several industries have been raising prices while the economy declines…

          OpenSim is a good alternative for those building large buildings, cities, etc for future use in SL. But, you have to put up with the SL haters and mostly deserted regions. OSGrid has 7,900+ regions and 3,500+ active users for the month with 79 in-world as I write. That’s 2.3 regions per user if all 3,500 login… or 99 deserted regions for every region with 1 avatar right now…

  4. I don’t think this review of the question was a fair assessment. Labchat is a new project ran by LL and announced thru the dashboard and its turn out was huge. 4 full regions. So the interest is there just advertisement and the directions of projects just might not interest people and honestly I think with LL devouting so much time to Sansar that even in labchats you might see a drop in interest. some people are anticipating this new game others dont want it and see it as ultimately different direction from SL and yet they used the forum meant for talking about development and talked almost exclusively about Sansar. When that topic went on for above 10mins i left. I want news on SL not sansar. But no interest isnt waning at all. just publicity of events and actual catering to the users isnt happening.

    • My point was we can’t know.

      There isn’t much new news about SL these days. Many of the rest of us want to know more about Sansar. That is evidenced by the questions posted. So, it is not surprising the Lab Chat team picked so many Sansar questions.

      Also, it was Ebbe being interviewed. He is primarily overseeing Sansar. If it has been Oz, the team might have picked more SL questions.

      It is nice when you left when the part you were interested in was over. I’m sure someone is glad they got in.

      The audience wasn’t that big in terms of total numbers. As I pointed out only 120+ people could fit into the 3 audience regions. The stage area, LEA 1, only had 16 people the couple of times I checked. So, even if we say 140 people made it in, of the 43,000 logged in at the time, 140 is a pretty small number. Not what I would call huge. True the regions were filled to capacity, but that isn’t saying a lot.

      • yea i don’t see point staying listening to stuff I’m interested in. there really isnt enough room on a sim for everyone interested. and i didnt read your full article when I posted so sorry if i cut into you a little. i dont think we are seeing the end of sl but it really depends on LL i feel. they aren’t really fixing the things that need fixed and are adding more stuff with more potential for breakage. so if they don’t direct their attention at things that need fixed and listen to the userbase more as far as SL’s direction it may meet its demise. and they need to advertise their discussions and changes more than they do. it is hard to find.

        • What is your evidence they aren’t fixing what needs to be fixed?

          What they are adding is what users have asked for. Bento is an excellent example of that.

  5. I can only speak to my own SL experience, which became a bit more difficult when I switched over to an all mesh avatar. Suddenly I have to re-arrange everything. This can be a bit taxing on my time and available funds. I have to wonder if many others didn’t take a look at the work it takes to re-organize oneself in our Brave New Mesh 2d World and decide many times to cut their time on SL shorter because of it. I took about 2 years to arrive at an old style avatar that I really wanted to stick with and then the whole thing went mesh.

    Ultimately, the move toward mesh will be very beneficial, but these teething times are going to try a lot of people’s patience and wallets.

    • I’m not sure what you mean ‘have to rearrange everything’. Nor does the idea ‘the whole thing went mesh’ make sense to me.

    • The grid moved to uploadable mesh in 2009. Maybe what you mean is mesh body-replacement parts?

      In any case, you don’t *have* to re-arrange your avatar if you don’t want to. Many such products currently involve less than ideal workarounds which place undue load on your viewing experience.

      On the other hand, while there is no explicit reason to spend money in Second Life (I know there are likely many people who have never spent money in SL), at base level, it is a platform that offers creative people to expand their skill sets and offerings. Supporting the creative community now and then is, in some sense, a means of supporting the idea of the platform itself (and its associated tools) – otherwise it becomes little more than a 3D chatroom (when it is so much more).

    • I think your arguement is an old one and there isnt anything stopping you from personally being just the old avatar with old sl clothing system. you arent forced to use mesh yourself. i dont see the issue other than you want everyone else to bend and also not use mesh. and dont see mesh as any particular problem we are facing with advancing further. its definately an improvement i feel. i can see a sort of nostalgic fanbase to the old system but its not dead at all. i know a ton of people that still use system layer clothes. just as i see people that still play retro platform games such as mario sonic and what not even though we now have 3d. allowing change is a good thing. saying that we dont need any isnt. change is the only constant in the universe. the only universal truth

  6. They have done some efforts and updating an ageing game but fact remains that they creating more problems. since the introduction of the http pipelining they have trashed quiet a few routers that couldnt handle it. the server side baking was nice but then we have issues like group chats that still remain as laggy as ever. and asset servers failing more and more frequently. its nice to see they are removing the old webkit which is a rather big security hazard and replacing with chromium framework but they arent making any of it more useful. prim media is still an abominanble feature that serves little purpose and its a pity its such a nice thing. further they add a new viewer based market but it really doesnt change how anything works and we still have no way to filter out demos which are only increasing in numbers among other problems such as a need for a tagging system rather than categories as there is no way to define things well enough leading to oversaturation. finding krafties galore under games instead of actual games and toddler stuff in the children section, drowning it out. just as examples. theres just a lack for certain things to alleviate issues rather than a need for new features. they want to draw people in but thing is new features dont draw. alot of new users get frustrated with the unintuitiveness of the system.

    • oh and as far as changes we never needed, … facebook integration was completely unneeded, especially with facebook deleting SL users from it. Project bento I think is nice but it dont fix anything. doesnt alleviate an issue. just allows more flexibility. we need to look at issues rather than features. because adding stuff just adds more possibility for bugs and the codebase is rather large and needs fixed. lots of quirks. such as objects not always rendering when rezzed, teleporting into regions and finding missing floors or walls until you right click them (although this seems to have not been as big an issue as it use to be. maybe they have taken undescribed steps to deal with this issue some). among other things

    • Wow Boo, you see things completely opposite to my perception.

      They have been eliminating problems almost daily. Bake fail was one of the worst and most persistent and it has almost been completely eliminated. Of the 45 pages of help notes for various problems in SL ¾ are no longer a problem.

      HTTP pipelining has reduced the number of open channels needed making it possible for older and cheaper routers to be used. The error correction part of the protocol has eliminated cache corruption. The ability to transfer multiple files in a single HTTP channel has improved download performance. It is a huge net gain over UDP.

      All last year group chat was being analyzed and improved. I reported on the testing going on in ADITI and the results of the roll outs to the main grid. Chat lag is still with us but the majority of group chat problems have been fixed.

      Going from WebKit to CEF is a huge change. They just completed the basic foundation. It isn’t surprising that not everything that can use CEF has changed. With CEF TV’s and other in-world video apps broken for years can now be fixed by vendors.

      Prim media has a purpose. It was implemented for render speed and data conservation when those criteria were primary. Plus the ease of use for beginners means they will stay around. Expect something similar in Sansar.

      VMM eliminates a number of problems. This is the 4th major upgrade to the MP since I joined. Each upgrade makes the market more usable and reliable. The MP has lots of deficiencies. Search is horrible. But, they continue to work on it.

      A 3D space represented on a 2D screen is a problem for many people. Everyone is trying to make it more intuitive with VR. That is just the nature of VW’s. SL has lots of problems. But, no one has a better system.

  7. I don’t deny they havent been improving things and no there isnt a better system. I am not trying to bash SL I just think the focus is too much on new features and allowing more bugs to creep into the system.

    Yea I did agree the avatar baking was an improvement. No complain there, and no I dont think group chats really are any better. And they took a bit of a cheaty way to eliminate issues by removing userlist on the bigger groups and it dont work as well as test will ever prove. you cant really stress test till you see it in full action. But I think they have made a few good changes and I did mention them and perhaps some of it got confused with things that went wrong that I mentioned.

    http pipelining has alot of potential but if you read the forums there are people with routers busted by it. perhaps they have fixed it so that hasnt happen i do know they have been updating it each release. just that its also introduced other problems as mentioned. for most, myself included it is an improvement but there are those its not helping that its trashing there routers. thats a fact not an opinion.

    I noticed you didnt mention the facebook update. Anyways I like that they are making changes I just disagree with the direction sometimes and know others agree.

    [Nal: Broke into paragraphs to improve readability.]

    • Also I agree the CEF is a great idea. I’m made note that I am glad they are replacing the security hazard known as webkit 1.0. As far as prim media it has uses for tvs and such but as far as hud use and such its very lacky but I think its more to do that you cant generate pages of more than 1024 than a problem with prim media itself. I do know that the face on which its active though becomes unusable to select from as far as sl interactions such as deleting and such and its a nuisance to cam around to another face to do such things. theres just a bit of something about prim media that makes it not as seamless as it could be.

    • We do see things very differently. I pay extraordinary attention to what the Lindens are doing, which may explain why.

      I am not sure how you decide what too much focus on new features is. Or how you know what the Lindens are focusing on. Are you aware of the Linden cycle of spending periods of time on fixes and periods of time on changes and new features? If not, how do you decide when they are doing too much of one or the other?

      Were you around when they were looking at changing out the whole chat system? Do you remember why they didn’t?

      Six months ago group chat was having major issues. Now there are way less problems. Ask someone like Ed Merryman that has to deal with it every day as the leader of Firestorm Support.

      Supplying member lists was a major load on the chat servers. The choice was to avoid the download and have chat work better or have the list and significantly more chat issues. The testing they based the decision on was not an ‘in-the-lab-test’. They added monitoring code to the production system. From actual use stats they made decisions and changes to the system.

      For months last year they were monitoring the system. They decided not to say when they changed things until well after the changes. They wanted unbiased information from users. They watched user complaints in the form and JIRA as well as the monitoring data to decide if the changes were to be kept, removed, or improved, basing it on what users were experiencing.

      I read the forums often. I provide people help on tech issues. I’m credited with about 150+ solutions. I have 118,552 minutes logged into the forum. So, I do think I have a pretty good feel of what is happening on the forum and especially in the Answers section. I don’t see many complaints about chat these days. I used to. So, I think things have improved a great deal.

      HTTP is a big improvement. The complaints I used to see that came from router overload and cache corruption have stopped. Overloading a router is a rare occurrence now. I suspect there are some old routers that can still have problems with SL. But, the Lab has greatly reduced the load on them. I am not sure why you think it is a fact that recent changes are trashing routers. All the indicators I can see say it is the opposite.

      I didn’t mention FB because to me it is a non-issue. Facebook is not for everyone. I don’t use the viewer feature. Others do. It’s just another feature some like and some don’t. But, I also don’t see those that use it filing JIRA’s or complaining in the forum.

      The FB feature was added in part as an attempt to improve SL visibility and there were a number of users requesting it. But, it is hard to know ‘why’ they chose to add it precisely. What I do know is there was a flood of complaints when FB broke how the viewer interfaced with FB.

      If you or I ran the Lab, things would be different. I doubt people would approve of either of our development directions any more than they do of the Lindens’.

      • I admit I am not in the loop of things. I only go on what I see from reading and thru experience. No I don’t know how much time the lindens spend on either but just seems for being in business so very very long they would of worked out alot more wrinkles than they have. I don’t wanna beat them with a stick though. They have improved and I do give them credit for being probably the only current virtual world ontop of anything. all the others are just copycats or subpar. just think new features should be 2nd to security and performance. even recently there was talk in scripting groups of how people have to constantly make “hacks” to get around obvious problems like that sittargets dont rotate right. specifically with llLinkSitTarget. and its not new and there are many many other examples I could list off. that one you can even see being stated on the wiki.

        Sure I don’t think many would approve my direction at all but I think most can agree that performance and security should come before features. its one of the main reasons everyone hates windows 10. they are practically forcing the upgrade and its not ready.

        I digress though. I love second life and would hate to see it disappear. I also feel they would be able to retain more noobs if some issue were smoothed over. for as much as they fix there is a slew more things that need fixed. Thats all I wanted to point out, mainly on the topic of second life bearing no interest to folks.

        Its a misnomer. there is an interest but if they want to keep it they need maintain it. fix things as to the why people like sl rather than trying give new reasons to like sl. thats all.

        I would like to know more about their developments though if you wouldnt mind contacting me inworld with any places beyond the dashboard and blog. its hard to find info and not much details when I do.

        • I would like to know more about their developments though if you wouldnt mind contacting me inworld with any places beyond the dashboard and blog. its hard to find info and not much details when I do.

          This blog and Inara’s are both about developments in SL.

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