Earn money with virtual worlds like Second Life or Imvu is it still possible and if it is how will virtual reality change it? Recently a friend of mine, a prosumer (acreative who sells its paid virtual contents), asked me about it, but by habit before answering I preferred to do some analysis. Let’s start by the numbers of the two platforms communities.
Second Life’s economics
Second Life at the moment (see http://gridsurvey.com) has about 45 million registered accounts (44,96 million February 9, 2016), 33,750 of which while I was writing this article were online (the “concurrency”); the active users are a number between these two extremes and in fact recently Linden Lab Ceo, Ebbe Lindberg, referred about 900 thousand active users, down from a peak of 1.1 million in 2010.
Please note that recently the Italian magazine Wired talked about just 60 thousand active users per month as “survivals” in Second Life. Probably the author of the piece used the statistics of Quantcast who speak of 61,400 users per month, but in this case it refers solely to accesses to the site Secondlife.com and thus the data is greatly underestimated since the vast majority of Second Life users connecting to the platform via client without going through the site.
Imvu claims to have exceeded 130 million registered accounts of which when I was writing this article were online 47.800 (but the number ranged of several thousands by minutes). Since you can access at Imvu from site Imvu.com, the numbers of active users estimated by Quantcast, about 3,7 million per month, appears plausible and it in line with the proportion registered accounts/monthly active users of Second Life.
As for the market of paid contents, Second Life according to Ebbe Lindberg registered in 2015 an internal Gdp of about 500 million Us dollars, with content producers earnings in excess of 60 million Us dollars (Lindberg cited the example of a single creative who sold about 300,000 virtual outfit to an average of 4 Us dollars each). The figure is not unlike those of the end of 2011 when Second Life Gdp was equal to 567 million Us dollars, with earnings for its ursers of 55 million.
Earnings from marketplaces
On Imvu marketplace there are over 16 million articles for sale, but some changes to the Creator Program, especially related to the decision to block third-party reselling of Imvu Credits, have sparked a lot of negative reactions.
Official statistics on turnover and earnings that Imvu is able to generate annually unfortunately don’t exist although the company should earn about 1.7 million Us dollars per month of which 90% through fees on direct transactions between users (which should be equal to several million dollars) and sales of Imvu Credits.
To earn is not easy for all
Among the few statements in this regard was that of Lee Clancy, at that time (2009) General Manager of Direct Revenue of Imvu, according to which of the 100,000 users (on 35 million accounts existing) registered as creatives and therefore allowed to sell their content, “some obtained from Imvu a six figures income”, while on the contrary there were creative who “earn Imvu Credits just enough to cover the dollars that they however spend on Imvu”.
Is therefore difficult to make a fair comparison, although my feeling is that even on Imvu as on Second Life existed and probably still exists internal economy where it’s possible to invoice (and earn) hundreds (and dozens) of millions dollars per year.
Virtual reality will change this scenario, but is still hard to tell how and when. If you want to know how it will end, continue to follow Mondivirtuali.it, even through our account on Twitter and our fanpage on Facebook (but remember: Mondivirtuali is also on Flickr, on Pinterest, on Scoop.it e su Paper.li and also on Youtube).