Does not emerge anything shockingly new from the latest numbers spread by Linden Lab about the state of Second Life economy in the third quarter of 2011. In a nutshell, Viewer 3 and related meshes launch seems have brought a renewed interest in the virtual world by those who had not yet tried (the company cites August as “the month with the strongest growth of new recordings in nearly four years“, but August is a month abnormal in many respects, not just in SL but also in real terms, as those who deals with statistics know well) and this is definitely a positive sign, although it remains to see how many new users will become regular users and how many of these in “premium” users.
The number of users who have logged at least one per month remains stable in just over one million in the quarter (1.046 million vs 1.042 million in the previous quarter and 1.01 million the previous year), but each ones is linked less and less time (the amount of hours the connection drops from to 101 million against 103 the previous quarter and 105 million a year earlier). Essentially stable internal economy, with 475 million users who have “actively participated” (that is exchanged between them Linden dollars to purchase content or services from other users), something better than the previous three months (463 thousand), something worse than a year ago (488 thousand) but still under half a million economically “active” users. Overall, slightly increasing the volume of linden dollars created and/or exchanged, as well as sales of user-created contents sold on the web through Marketplace (1.183 billion from 1.151 billion lindens three months earlier and against 904 million lindens in the third quarter 2010).
You can think these are crazy numbers, but after all we are saying that the quarter’s revenue of Marketplace is traveling on 4.7 million U.S. dollars, or about 3.4 million euros, which, dividing by all those who have “actively participated” in SL economy, equivalent to about 2 per month per active user of sale (a figure that would be good for Linden Lab if it meant that the Arpu, i.e. the average revenue per user, was 24 euros/33 dollars a year and it Second Life was used by a hundred million or more users, since LinkedIn until last March was credited with an Arpu of 2 dollars and Facebook of 3 dollars, versus 6 dollars for Skype (all values on an annual basis), but I doubt that can be so.
And btw, have half a million active users is very different from being able to draw in 100 (such as LinkedIn) or multiples (FB is now beyond the threshold of 800 million users). That SL remains a rich but niche platform without any big news is confirmed by another data: the total size of the “land” of Second Life is stable at 2,000 square kilometers (2.03 to be exact, from2.05 of the second quarter and vs 2.08 a year earlier), so the number of sims must in turn be roughly constant. To be true Rodvik Humble appeared in a very optimistic in an update to Second Life users in which he explains what’s new.
According to Ron hours SL offers greater usability,has seen the arrival “thankfully on time” of the meshes, has improved services (even if the manager admits: “we realize that we still have a ways to go” and given the recent case of Nunzia Mayo I’d say he’s right) and more generally ahigher user value. In the near future (“testing most likely starting in December”) there will come a new search (it was time!) and a series of innovations based on the use of artificial intelligence that will allow “to create more advanced MMORPG’s or interactive experiences which use AI right within Second Life”. I do not know about you, but it seems to me to catch a glimpse of the kind of“Virtual playground” which is central to the plot of Caprica the TV series prequel o fBattlestar Galactica you can see in these weeks on Rai4 and best of James Cameron’s Avatar movie seems to anticipate the future of these platforms, less and less linked to a computer screen or otherwise, as is mobile, and increasingly linked to the possibility of recreating both graphically and the sensory the experiences of a real person, all moving the avatar of each user (or better a player as in Caprica the system is considered as an MMORPG with a lot of duels, various points and levels, but also music, entertainment, etc.) not only the image but also in some way self-consciousness of the player. A future which seems distant some tens years more, but which Humble seems to want to move to.