Whither Second Life: High Spend, Low Pop

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We’ve covered the froth about Second Life’s numbers before, but thanks to Tristan Louis, we now have more data to sift thro.

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Tristan began tracking the number of users and financial data (caveat – listed on the SL site, not independently verified) from October 2006 thro to January this year. The outcome of this analysis –

On average, the number of logins over a 60 day period seems to be about 35 to 40 percent of the total population reported. The people who log in, however, seem to spend a fair amount of money ($50-60 a week) within the Second Life economy.

Wagner James Au sheds some light on what this means comparatively… this would mean that some 200,000-230,000 active Second Life users are on average currently spending more on their in-world experience than any existing online world by far. (For comparison, a World of Warcraft subscription is but $15 a month, and that’s money paid to the Blizzard/Vivendi, not user to user.)

So summing up Tristan’s analysis: Second Life is people light (relatively), but cash heavy (absolutely.)

Tristan goes on to extrapolate user growth on SL and figures that on a conservative calculation by the end of April 3.5 million users will have registered with over 600,000 using the service.

The original debate instigator, Clay Shirky, has responded by noting the dichotomy between what SL defines as ‘registered users” and “residents” –

But there is no published metric of “Registered Users” — the Residents figure includes people who signed up but never logged in, as well as alts. “Residents” represents a 50% inflation over actual people, and most of them bail after the first month.

David Kirkpatrick of Fortune just got some real figures out of Linden, and only 1.5M people have ever logged in (the gap between 2.3M Residents and 1.5M people is from the alts and sign up/no login people), and of that figure, only 250K have logged in more than 30 days later.

In other words, the highest possible figure for active users is 250K — the actual number is lower, but we don’t know how much lower. It also means that only a minority of the Last 60 Days logins are active users.

David Kirkpatrick’s response is embedded in a comment to a CNN Money article – scroll down to find it.

Bottom line — active new SL users are growing at a very healthy 23%.

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5 responses to “Whither Second Life: High Spend, Low Pop

  1. It is time for something more useable, more fun, and more engaging to take up what Second Life has started. The fact that even 250k people happily battle the interface and “image of suburban hell” structure is testament to the power of the underlying concept. Simon Cowell couldn’t have created a more idiot-proof mass-attraction money maker.

    Now someone step up to do it right.

  2. Couldnt’ve said it better myself, John.

  3. “Bottom line — active new SL users are growing at a very healthy 23%.”

    Not true. We don’t know the rate at which active users are growing, for two reasons. First, Kirkpatrick quoted only one month of growth for his 23% figure, and it was the month of the Business Week cover. The current growth rate may well be smaller — we don’t know.

    Second, the 250K figure is not active users, it simply represents the upper limit of possible active users. Someone who used SL in September and October and then dropped out is still counted in that 250K figure.

    What we still can’t answer is the question “How many people who have logged in in the last month have accounts more than 30 days old?” The number is smaller than 250K, and is growing at a rate of less than 23% per month, but we don’t know how much smaller or how much more slowly.

  4. Thanks for clarifying this point, Clay. So the upper band is 23%. It would be good to know the churn and retention — my take on SL is that is requires a fairly significant investment of time to become meaningful.

    For most folk this is too much of a hurdle so I suspect there is a high churn amongst those logging in on the back of all the hype generated recently.

    So, my conclusion is that a more user-friendly immersive world would be viewed favorably and would pick up many of those folk who are churning from SL…

  5. Thanks to Clay and others pushing this, it appears we are getting closer to knowing truth.

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