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  ‘Second Life’ Registrations Up 100%, Concurrency Up 25%  
 
 
Posted 2006-09-06 by Tony Walsh
 
 
     
 
James Au over at New World Notes points out that total signups for the virtual world of Second Life has doubled in about two months from 300k to 600k, and notes that concurrency is running over 10,000 users these days. So the total number of registrations has doubled, but concurrency is only up by 25%, from around 8k to 10k. What that says to me is that while there's a massive influx of new accounts, either the experience of Second Life isn't compelling enough to retain new users, or most of the new accounts are alternate accounts by old users (I created at least 5 alternate accounts in the last 2 months, for example). It seems like double the registrations should also double the concurrency, but that's not the case here. For a partial history of SL's population data, see "Linden Lab to Reform 'Second Life' Population Stats."

By contrast, the sci-fi MMO EVE Online recently surpassed 30,000 concurrent users in its contiguous virtual universe. EVE's total registrations hit 100,000 last February, while Second Life was at around 160,000. How did EVE's concurrency rate triple that of SL in roughly the same time-span? What is EVE doing right that SL apparently isn't?
 
     
 
   
 
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  9 Comments  
 
   
 
Comment posted by Eric Rice
September 6, 2006 @ 3:07 pm
     
 
"What is EVE doing right that SL apparently isn't?"

Does it have anything to do with there being a point and a focus and a goal, and that EVE is not a 'not-a-game'?
 
     
 
     
   
 
Comment posted by Tony Walsh
September 6, 2006 @ 3:27 pm
     
 
I suspect it does :)

SL is a game or is not a game depending on which is more convenient to SLers or Linden Lab at the time. At the very least, Linden Lab doesn't seem to go around correcting the media or blogs when SL is referred to as a game or MMORPG. If it had done so from SL's inception, SL might now be as obscure as Croquet :)

It seems that EVE has a better conversion rate, by which I mean it started under SL in terms of registrants, but now triples SL in terms of concurrency. Is that better conversion rate simply because EVE is a game? Or is it more subtle than that? In terms of MMOs, EVE is quite open-ended--I'd even go so far as to call it a sandbox-style game. It's also quite complex in terms of learning how to play, and is a contiguous (non-sharded) universe. So it's got a lot more similarities to SL than, say, World of Warcraft--which is why I felt my initial contrast of EVE and SL was worthwhile. I'm sure there's something beyond "gameness" that SL can learn from EVE Online. If I played EVE more extensively, I might be able to supply some further thoughts on the matter.
 
     
 
     
   
 
Comment posted by csven
September 6, 2006 @ 5:26 pm
     
 
"If it had done so from SL's inception, SL might now be as obscure as Croquet

At least they'd be talking about it.
 
     
 
     
   
 
Comment posted by Prokofy Neva
September 6, 2006 @ 6:59 pm
     
 
"not a 'not-a-game'?"

ROFL! Thanks for the comedy gold of the day, Spin!
 
     
 
     
   
 
Comment posted by Johnny Ming
September 6, 2006 @ 8:52 pm
     
 
If SL is "Your world. Your imagination." Does that mean that the not-not-games are "Your world because you lack imagination" ?
 
     
 
     
   
 
Comment posted by csven
September 6, 2006 @ 9:16 pm
     
 
"Does that mean that the not-not-games are "Your world because you lack imagination" ?"

I suspect an argument could be made by someone that people who find SL "boring" and prefer standard games which tell them what to do or otherwise direct their activity, don't have sufficient imaginations to entertain themselves without guidance.
 
     
 
     
   
 
Comment posted by Markus Breuer
September 7, 2006 @ 3:25 am
     
 
I don't think there is anything surprising with these numbers, actually. When you are lowering the entry barriers for something which *might* be interesting, many more will try - and some will leave again. I don't believe in an invasion of alts. This has got much more to do with higher "try out" rate and a growing number of "casual users" who don't spend as much time in world on average as the older population.

That the relationship between "overall accounts" and concurrent users is completely different between SL and Eve (or probably Entropia and other online games, too) is even less surprising. If I *pay* for a subscription I am certainly much more likely to use the service more intensely than if I get it for free.

Additionally, don't forget that it is Linden Lab's stated intention to create "something like the next version" of the web - and please compare "registered users" on the web and concurrent users on the web. ;)

btw: a 25% growth in 2 months isn't exactly shabby. Maybe another question one could ask is: "What is Second Life doing right?" :)
 
     
 
     
   
 
Comment posted by Ace Albion
September 7, 2006 @ 6:49 am
     
 
EVE:
AFK mining/hauling
Multibox strip mining
PVP players running two concurrent accounts minimum (main and scout or main and trade alt)
copying bookmarks while docked in station
sitting in stations to change skills from work PCs with VNC

SL:
Camping chairs, poseballs, everyone else out in photoshop.
 
     
 
     
   
 
Comment posted by Tony Walsh
September 7, 2006 @ 5:07 pm
     
 
Thanks for the discussion so far, folks.

Markus, why do you believe the registration explosion isn't attributable to an alt invasion? The reason I'm inclined towards the opposite is that first LL made SL free, and then LL dropped the requirement for a credit card to register, thus opening the gateway to a flood of alts. Unfortunately I can only speculate that there was a flood of alts, based on what I've seen, heard, and read--if LL has data on how many registrants are alts, it hasn't released it (rather hard to track without identifying registrants in the first place).

I appreciate that attribute SL's registration growth can be attributed to "a higher 'try out' rate and a growing number of 'casual users' who don't spend as much time in world on average as the older population," but this doesn't hold up for concurrency. It stands to reason that more casual users would result in a greater peak concurrency, since time spent in-world doesn't have much to do with concurrency (if a million users are online for one second, that's 1M PCU).

You wrote: "If I *pay* for a subscription I am certainly much more likely to use the service more intensely than if I get it for free." This may be true--perhaps Linden Lab made SL free to reduce the amount of concurrent users because of scaling issues. LL doesn't make money off high concurrency rates.

You wrote: "it is Linden Lab's stated intention to create 'something like the next version' of the web - and please compare "registered users" on the web and concurrent users on the web. ;)" Hey, if you have these stats, I'm all ears :) Second Life is light-years away from becoming the next version of the web. For starters, ask yourself what the barriers to using the web are compared to the barriers to using Second Life. I can browse the web on my mobile phone--no such luck with Second Life. The web is easy to use. Everyone has a web browser. Nobody has to "register" to use the web (in theory). Nobody has to have an identity when using the web. Secondly, the web isn't controlled by a single, for-profit corporation. Second Life is Linden Lab's world. The company might not own your intellectual property, but it owns your avatar.

I think there have to be some reasonable population comparisons between SL and online games such as EVE. If Linden Lab's Cory Ondrejka predicts that virtual world populations will oustrip game world populations, isn't there some basis for comparing the two?
 
     
 
     
   
 
 
     
 
     
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