March 21, 2007

5 Million Visitors, And Some Stayed

Posted in SecondLife at 10:18 am by buckybarkley

Any day now, Second Life will show 5 million residents. Is that impressive?

In the sense that the registration mechanism works, it’s impressive.

However, it’s not an accurate gauge of how Second Life is being used. The “Logged In Last 60 Days” is a better picture, as is the “Online Now” number.

The problems with the “5 Million” number stem mostly from the fact that it is way too easy to create an unverified account. What happens with those accounts? Some of the first things to come to mind are:

  • People use them for legitimate main accounts, and do fine in-world – making friends, creating and buying, and adding to the experience of everyone around them
  • People create Alts for testing, and other purposes
  • Griefers create throwaway accounts to cause one-time trouble
  • Name squatting – grabbing a good name for possible resale

So are there really 5 Million residents? No way.

The number that impresses me the most is the rise in “Online Now”, which routinely gets into the low to mid 30,000’s at this writing. Someone should do a graph that maps total residents to average online. You can bet that total residents curve would be pretty steep, and that the online now curve would be gentle by comparison. It would be a very telling divergence…

What the “5 Million” number really means:

  • 5 Million registrations have been processed, but from far fewer than 5 Million individuals
  • Many got a bad initial experience, due to system problems (Linden Labs has done a poor job of scaling), and have never come back
  • It’s more of a visitor counter than anything else