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  Gain a Few Avatars, Lose a Few Avatars  
Posted 2005-12-22 by Tony Walsh
Massively-multiplayer game World of Warcraft's population topped 5 million worldwide subscribers this week, but its maker announced yesterday that it had closed 18,000 accounts to penalize cheaters. Blizzard posted notice that "A majority of these accounts were found to be using third-party programs to farm gold and items. Such actions can severely impact the economy of a realm and the overall game enjoyment for all players."

Meanwhile, over in the bizarro-virtual-world of Second Life, maker Linden Lab has announced its resident population has finally cracked the 100,000 mark. Except that at the time of this writing, in-world statistics show the company is still a few cards short of a deck. Obviously Second Life will hit its mark (probably by the time you read this), but I had a chuckle over Linden Lab's enthusiasm. The company's world population is a drop in the bucket compared to Warcraft's but it has ramped up quite quickly in the last half of 2005 due to a major marketing push and the introduction of free Basic accounts.

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Comment posted by Prokofy Neva
December 22, 2005 @ 6:05 pm
Well, they did hit the 100,000 mark, but what does it mean, really? Are they all empty calories with freebie basics and trials that don't stick?

The "online now" as you snapped it shows 1,693; often it's only at 4,000. I rarely see it top 5,000. Even allowing for dynamism over 24/7, how many people really come in SL?

I do see a LOT more people. I probably have double the customers I used to have, and I see LOTS more buyers on the auction and inworld. But the numbers we really need to hear about is how many premium accounts are there, and of those, how many opted to buy first land, and of these, how many went beyond the free 512 tier level? When they were at the 40,000 mark it was 9,000 premiums, 6,000 of whom owned land.

I also hope journalists will dig at this figure of "US$ Spent Today". This figure suddenly quadrupled in the last 2 weeks. Maybe p2p made everybody map-happy and spending-happy...maybe they are home for the holidays dressing their avatars...or maybe those are payments to Currency Linden to cash out for good over the telehub's just hard to know what those huge figures mean -- how can only 4000 people online at any given time be generating 140,000 US -- here you see only 1,693 had generated 21,799. That's an awful lot of USD to be spending...even allowing for people who cash out their Lindens to pay their land tier bills, even allowing for huge payouts from camp chairs...I'm not getting this.
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