Linden Lab Reports Second Life Has 1 Million+ Monthly Users (After Changing Their Definition of SL User)
Linden Lab is reporting that Second Life has over 1 million monthly active users in its Q2 2011 Second Life stats report, released last weekend. This might seem like a leap from the 800K monthly actives it was reporting from recent quarters. However, that is not the case: Rather, Linden Lab simply changed the definition of an active user -- previously, it was a monthly active returning login (or MURL), meaning a user who had logged into SL at least one previous time. Now, however, the Lindens are reporting all monthly logged in users - which would include the 16,000 new SL accounts created every day, i.e. 480,000 a month.
The reason for changing the metrics, as the report explains, is total monthly logins are "more comparable to industry standards for reporting size of customer base". This is true - for example, when you read about monthly active users of a Facebook game, the number includes all the people during that month who launched the app, even if they did so just once and never returned. At SLCC, I got a chance to talk with Colossus Linden, who compiled the report, about this change; he acknowledged that it does make it difficult to track SL activity over time, but argued it was more important to put SL in line with industry reporting methods. In any case, the new metric shows that absolute SL user growth is still flat, though several Lindens told me we may see signs of growth in the next quarterly report.
The only signs of growth from the Q2 2011 report? Web merchandise sales, which show a slow but continued increase. To me this is the most hopeful sign for SL's long term future, as the Lindens shift away from their doomed land-based revenue model. But it will still take many more actual users spending Linden Dollars, to replace it.