Thursday, December 15, 2011

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SL Insider: 70% of SLers Don't Regularly Explore SL, But Mostly Stay in Their Last Logged-In Location

SL logins 70 percent dont move

I recently had a fascinating conversation with an SL insider who dropped a very interesting statistic: Only 30% of active SLers explore the Second Life grid on a regular basis. Instead, the overwhelming majority of SLers just stay in their home location, where they last logged in. To be sure, I'm citing a single anonymous source, but I consider it a credible figure: As I noted last week, the top fifty most popular SL locations by traffic change little from month to month, suggesting that their regular visitors largely stay in that location.

What are some implications to this stat? Here's three, followed by a couple recommendations for Linden Lab:

  • Most SLers probably enjoy SL mainly as a virtual chat room hangout. Again, this would be consistent with the top fifty SL locations, which are overwhelmingly sexy, flirty, IMVU-style hangouts. 
  • Most SLers don't do much in-world shopping. As noted a couple days ago, the Marketplace website seems to be supplanting in-world shopping for most SLers. This trend, if accurate, bolsters a pattern of general stasis.
  • SL is not optimally architected for how most SLers actually use SL: Second Life was architected as a contiguous world on a grid, so that in theory, SLers can travel to any publicly accessible location in the world. However, if 70% of users rarely stray from their home location, this architecture is largely irrelevant to them.

So, recommendations for Linden Lab? I have at least a couple:

  • Add a download option: As I argued recently, a download option would optimize SL for first-time users who aren't accustomed to a streamed world that doesn't look immediately appealing. But this recommendation applies just as equally to established SLers: If most of them don't leave their last location, why not give them the option to have the graphics to that area downloaded to their client, so they get best from that experience?
  • Create a gaming system that incents exploration: Notwithstanding this static user behavior, Second Life was conceived as a world, and is strongest as a world, full of diverse locations designed to be explored by most users, not just a minority. Linden Lab should add an optional gaming system in which users get achievements or points for exploring different sims -- perhaps even a scavenger/treasure hunting system that's constantly refreshed with new content and objectives.

I feel most strongly about the last recommendation; in fact, I'd add a Linden Dollar reward system for people who explore the world, so they also have an incentive to go shopping, too. Just because most SLers don't treat Second Life as a world doesn't mean they wouldn't do so, with the proper encouragement. After all, in real life, most of us rarely stray too far from our homes, unless we have an incentive to do so.

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Metacam Oh

Hamlet, where would someone pull that stat from? Sounds suspicious that someone would be able to calculate that number unless perhaps the Lindens have some sort of data on that.

roblem hogarth

What a wonderful miss mash of nothing. So 70% of SLers don't what? Walk ever? Stay in the same parcel or sim? Or just don't ping pong around enough to count as exploring? Even when I am "exploring" I tend to stay in the same area for a while.

jo yardley

Makes sense to me.
I spend probably 95% of my time in SL in the same region.
I don't care about shopping, don't care about general chatting, don't care about 99.9% of music played in other sims, am not interested in adult hanky panky, etc, etc.
So besides the occasional museum, exhibit or special event, I don't go out much.

Arcadia Codesmith

I would like a railroad, from one end of the mainland to the other, with spurs and loops hither and yon, where I could sit and watch the world go by and jump off whenever something catches my eye.

I would like a television set, that shows live feeds from venues and events, anywhere the land owner has chosen to mount a camera. Some channels might show prerecorded concerts and machinima. If you're viewing a live show, you can click a button on the TV and be transported to the event.

But I'm too poor to build the railroad, and too lazy to beat the drum for the TV network (assuming I could code it). Someone else do it :)

Missy Restless

Is that 70% somebody's guesstimate or based on actual teleport stats from the lab ?

Regardless of the accuracy of the stat, your suggestions are interesting. I'm unaware of the technical details but wrt suggestion #1, isn't my viewer's cache essentially the same as a "download" ? I like suggestion #2 but what's in it for LL ? They get us to move around by providing money trees or something but how does that benefit them ? Maybe more movement means more shopping means more land purchased for shops but idk most people scowering the grid for a few lindens aren't big spenders. Maybe a grid hunt game with linden rewards for Premium members only.

Dale Innis

It would be very interesting to know if this is based on actual data, or someone speculating from nothing...

Jens

I think most users don´t like to explore because of the enormous amount of lag. Any exploration from my side soon or later ends in crashing or being stuck.

Samantha

From what i know of users, your resources and also SL, I would agree with this article, though I'm an avid shopper ;) and do explore though not as much as I used to.

Jens

And I´d like to add, SL is about user created content. If you have an idea about a gaming system, why don´t you build it or colaborate with somebody that knows how to build it. It is not difficult to make a HUD based implementation. Honestly I am a little worried that the Lindens start developing more and more content, like Linden Realm. They are getting better and better with features, but the main problems still are lag and the very expensive land. This is what prevents residents from developing really successful content, including great games.

Hamlet Au

"if this is based on actual data"

My understanding is it's based on hard data. As I say, it also seems consistent with Louis Platini's grid analysis, which is done with data sampling.

rawst berry

I am probably the only one who feels this way, but my reason for not exploring very much is that it's really hard to do with a friend. If you're using local chat you can't stray to far from each other or you'll be out of chat range, and I can't talk in IMs while using mouselook at the same time. So exploring with friends just becomes a pain in the neck for me.

Sim crossings is another, more obvious reason that exploring is more annoying then fun. Used to love sailing and horse back riding, but thanks to sim crossings either of these activities are more trouble than they're worth unless you want to ride around in a circle on the same sim.

Orca Flotta

The article matches my own personal experience. Even when talking to oldbies you often get the blank stare when talking about the main continents. The other day I was talking to a girl born in 06 who had never heard of Sansara (which was of course the place of her birth and the only existing continent back then). Then she fell off my dock, 10 meters down in the water ... and asked for a TP back ;/
Unbelievable? Better believe it.

People aren't even curious about the rather small world of SL. Takes 10 minutes looking at the worldmap to develop a sense of place. For me it just takes 1 minute to waken my travel instincts. It's all so easy to get around in SL. Why people are staying put and prefer smalltalk or the same stupid parties and clubs will forever remain a mystery to me.

And look at the user base and all becomes clear and starts making sense: some millions of pale, fat, lazy computer nerds who rather sit at home instead of going out. Of course they'll show the same behavioural pattern in SL.

Shug Maitland

LOL Hamlet,
Pretty much the same as RL. Most people go out once or twice a week, maybe to an event or shopping. The rest of the time is spent "home" with friends and family.
Why did you expect different? This is Second Life, not some virtual game where we are expected to flit about in pursuit of winning.

Tateru Nino

The figure *sounds* about right. Of course, if I had better tools, I could move around more, rather than having to spend much of my SL time stuck in IMs.

Cinder Roxley

also bear in mind, there are thousands upon thousands of "automated scripting agents" that. login to one place with no consciousness to move. if it's based on "hard data" i assume the hard data isn't taking bots into account.

i miss things like the valentines hunt, the linden trading card that were hidden all over the atoll back in 2006. more linden sponsored events to foster gatherings.

Vanadis Falconer

Nice to be unique!
I´m an explorer in the Second world too!

Rin Tae

Sounds right and especialyl the club gowing scene seem to always gravitate around their one favorite spot. And there are also those that just chat and also the builders that never leave theri place because they only care for the next thing to put up on the marketplace.

But there is one big thing that is still hindering exploration: the sim border crossings and the massive lag.

Not long ago me and a few freinds get a nice cabrio out and set of on a road trip on one of the mainland roads. We really crossed two thirds of a continent but it was a masohisitic experiance. We also encountered some places where lag was so bad, that one could not move past it. And there was no apperent reason for this either.
With sims being rahter small and crossed quickly every attempt to explore any alrger area is quickly met with thinking about if it is worth to log in for the third time to once more try to cross a particular point. And that is a shame because we have seen great places on this journey and when we did not suffered from the lag, we had lots of fun.

(at one point the lag ate the car so we engaged in GTA SL and hijacked one of the scripted vehicles roaming around to continue the jurney ^_^ .. it was a ice and candy truck *yummy*)

But apart of this, the assumptions behind the article seem to be mostly right from what I can tell. People are often narrow sighted and way too often lack the imagination to start thinking that maybe there is something else on the next sim, continent ... it is like in RL and that is even more sad.

Luckily not all are like this

Ezra

@Shug

I'm with that thinking. I'm not sure if us being stationary most of the time is exactly a problem. It means we once searched for, and then found something or some people interesting enough to want to stay around with. Isn't this describing a desired result moreso than a problem?

DD Ra

I think it just mean 70% of SLers do not move from one login to the other...
Whatever, as other have said before, in those case most of the sim's textures and whatnots are in their caches at login... isn't it ?

Hitomi Tiponi

Without any real figures, method or stats this is really rather meaningless. get hold of those and you could have a real article.

Jenney

It doesn't surprise me what i see in this picture. Pooley,Orientation island public, help island public, waterhead and ect are always full of there regulars who have nothing better to do than to stick in a tight bunch of bullies and poke fun at noobs.They don't go outside cos with that shitty attitude of theirs you wont go too far in sl.I avoid those places like a plague.

Jack Pitts

Well I know from my own personal experiences. I rarely leave the cluster of islands that my region belongs to. I only leave if there is an event that I know of that I want to check out.

I also don't generally shop in world either because it takes to damn long to rezz the textures and prims etc etc. It's a lot easier to just go to the market place and search for whatever I am looking for.

Valentina Kendal

First, yes, it's hard to agree or disagree with this statement without knowing what the data is - 70% don't TP at all during a session?

Second - "the top fifty most popular SL locations by traffic change little from month to month, suggesting that their regular visitors largely stay in that location." - I don't think you can you draw that conclusion from traffic numbers

Third - exploration is made *much* harder by the fact that many of the active or interesting locations are now on islands, and it might be intimidating for a new resident to just blindly TO into them, which brings me to

Fourth - as others have said, it used to be you could hop on a motorcycle and bike around the continents on the roads that LL put there for that purpose. Sim crossing have made flying, sailing or driving around to explore a 'masochistic experience' -I can't tell you how much I miss exploring with friends. Now my Inventory is much larger than in 2008, and that could be it, but sim crossings seem hopelessly broken. Fix sim crossings and have a continent-wide scavenger hunt or game to encourage exploration.

Valentina Kendal

one other thing - make the Destination Guide much more prominent - pay someone to survey Flickr groups, Koinup groups, blogs and constantly highlight the most interesting user made content in a very visible way tat encourages newbie exploration - the way the best SL blogs do ;)

Melissa Yeuxdoux

For a while I would look around on the map for a place to randomly teleport to (of course, avoiding TPing into buildings and the like). I stopped after teleporting randomly and being rather rudely told to leave.

So now I have some favorite places to go, augmented by blogs such as Caminante de Sueños. Cuts way down on traveling, I must admit. The global map tries to be virtual Google Earth, but it really needs the search features and labels and hyperlinks for places of interest accessible from the map itself.

Pathfinder

That's a fascinating statistic. Very interesting!

Can you provide more information about the data collection method and source of this data?

The plural of anecdote is not data.

foneco zuzu

Quote:
And I´d like to add, SL is about user created content. If you have an idea about a gaming system, why don´t you build it or colaborate with somebody that knows how to build it. It is not difficult to make a HUD based implementation. Honestly I am a little worried that the Lindens start developing more and more content, like Linden Realm. They are getting better and better with features, but the main problems still are lag and the very expensive land. This is what prevents residents from developing really successful content, including great games.

Unquote!

READ THIS LAB!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

DrFran Babcock

I must be the outlier. If you check my blog, you can see that I am all over the grid. Yes, I love my home on the mainland, but for me SL has always been about seeing what cool stuff others have made.

foneco zuzu

And being inworld for at least 4h daily on the last year and a half i can say!
I explore based on blog posts, and for that im grateful, not only to this blog but to a few others, mainly Caliburn Susanto's blog:
http://caliburnsusanto.wordpress.com/
I have to say i found some of the most amazing places tks to Him, to Inara Pey blog:
http://modemworld.wordpress.com/
and lots of others!
For their work revealing the wonderful In world unknown by many, my humble gratitude!

Joshua Philgarlic

"Add a download option:..."

There actually IS a download option. It's called "the cache" and the viewer uses it automatically!

yoshiko Fazuku

You see this see behaviour on opensim based grids as well. All these kinds of stats prove the point I have been trying to make for ever and a day to any one I meet.

The problem is every one is so bizzy trying to make money to pay their tier or trying to get rich on the internet that they don’t have time to do anything else. To a large degree the fantasy of money, though its an illusion, is what props up the property market. you could say its all sitting on a bubble of sorts. If people realize that there is too many chiefs and not enough Indians things could get really interesting really fast. what is the point of spending all that time building a sim and trying to get renters if no one is gona show up because every one else is doing the same thing as you are. if people realize that then you will see sim counts drop dramatically unless there are enough new suckers coming to the show. The real question is at what point do you cease to be a sucker?

The answer is when you stop having a sim to make money ether real or virtual and just have a sim to have fun with.

"If life is a rat race, even if you win your still a rat"

Yoshiko

Pussycat Catnap

"the top fifty most popular SL locations by traffic change little from month to month, suggesting that their regular visitors largely stay in that location."

- This is a conclusion that doesn't necessarily follow from the statement within.

It could very well be that a place is very popular despite its visitors popping in and out constantly. That too can make an area very popular - both in traffic numbers, AND in social activity.

Yes there are some places that feel like infohub-chat-zombie-container-crates, some of them even actual infohubs. ;)

But it doesn't necessarily follow that if a place is regularly popular, it is an infohub-chat-zombie-container-crate.

Back during the craze over the movie Avatar, the top Pandora sim, which is still active today, had insane traffic, and very popular social activity - but it was hard to ever find the same person twice. So many shifting crowds, unless you had someone on your friends list, you'd never find them again. And quite a few of the people spent half or more of their time zipping off to the other Pandora spots, or various malls, homes, dance clubs, etc...

I find similar in a decent portion of hangout spots I visit. Some are static crowds, others constantly shifting.

This might sound crazy, but a venue is better served by the shifting folks - you want your visitors to -LEAVE- and explore, taking 'word' or worn-fashions with branding of your spot with them... ;)

As much as we need find ways to attract people, we then need to find ways to get them out the door so the next set can come in and viral marketing can work in our favor.

Pussycat Catnap

"Sim crossing have made flying, sailing or driving around to explore a 'masochistic experience' -I can't tell you how much I miss exploring with friends. Now my Inventory is much larger than in 2008, and that could be it, but sim crossings seem hopelessly broken. Fix sim crossings and have a continent-wide scavenger hunt or game to encourage exploration"

I've got a pretty insane inventory myself. But as long as I don't try to wear it -ALL-, I can sim cross with ease.

Keep your script count down low, and drive through sim borders like 'you're supposed' to go through yellow lights - slower not faster.

Its still a lot of fun to explore on a vehicle, but you can't do it while wearing that resize hair and prim no-mod resize feet... :)

I do this on a full on furry avatar with both my AO and furry-mod-HUD (that I only need when customizing, and never during daily use) both still on. I've even done it while accidentally still wearing my dance HUD or my Meeroo HUD... :)

There are even mainland spots where I've zipped by and wondered where the sim border was... having not felt it.

There -ARE- some sim-border nightmares, but the ones caused by the sims themselves are a lot rarer than the ones caused by the people trying to cross the sim.

Nanu

typical week of mine:
Mo: 3 hours online, 2.5 h standing in my skybox, 30 min exploring
Tu: 2 hours online, 2 h standing in my skybox
We: 2 hous online, 1 h exploring, 1 h standing in my skybox
Th: 1 hour online, 1 h standing in my skybox
Fr: 3 hours online, 2 h shopping (=exploring), 1 h standing in my skybox
Sa: 0 hours online
Su: 0 hours online
Total: 11 hours online, 3.5 h exploring, 7.5 h standing in my skybox = 70% don't regularly explore SL ... and with this schedule i have seen almost EVERYTHING in SL

Dale Innis

Note that there isn't actually a claim to any hard data here: the actual claim is "Only 30% of active SLers explore the Second Life grid on a regular basis. Instead, the overwhelming majority of SLers just stay in their home location, where they last logged in." That's actually two separate claims, neither quantifiable.

The first is that only 30% (a nice hard number) "explore the Second Life grid on a regular basis" (undefined, so not a concrete claim; what does it mean to explore, what's a regular basis, etc?).

The second is that "the overwhelming majority of SLers just stay in their home location, where they last logged in". "Overwhelming majority" isn't defined, nor is "stay in their home location". Does that mean forever? On a typical day? During a typical login session?

So I'm really reluctant to draw any conclusions from this, without knowing what it actually means. (And does it include bots, as Cinder asked?)

It's true that people don't explore on foot / in vehicles nearly enough. I do it alot, and often with friends. (And yeah as a result I'm not all that fond of mouselook-controlled vehicles!) But many people TP between their homes and their favorite clubs, and probably have no idea how far apart by foot or air they might be. Which is a pity!

Still, given the squishiness of the original statement here, there really isn't anything we can conclude from it...

Ann Otoole InSL

I would explore a whole lot more if every other region was not running a different experimental sim version with awful borked crossings that wreaks havoc on vehicles, trains, and planes.

Oh and just delete all the linden trees and grass/plants. Those cause massive lag and are circa 2003 and make SL look like a joke. If not from the entire grid then get them out of sight from roads and rails.

Hamlet Au

"'Overwhelming majority' isn't defined, nor is 'stay in their home location'. Does that mean forever? On a typical day?"

It is defined: As I said, 70%. On an average log-in session.

Pathfinder, I'm unable to get into the numbers beyond that for various reasons, but I can say it was given to me as hard data from a very credible source. I wouldn't have published it otherwise; and also, that it's consistent with publicly accessible user data.

Hitomi Tiponi

We don't know if that figure includes bots, declared or otherwise - they must skew the figure, as must alts created for specific purposes like my testing alt who 99% of the time stays on a Linden island and logs on and off up to a sixty times a day sometimes.

Galena Qi

I have been an explorer since my first day in SL, but the pain to gain ratio has increased over time. This is not due to lag for the most part (although it has been bad lately),but to the sheer number of sims and to Linden Labs abandoning the map as an organizing principle. In 2007, there was the mainland and a relatively small number of private island groupings with clear identities (e.g., Elflands, wastelands). The map gave a sense of place. Now, it is a chaotic potpourri of Linden sites, tropical estate clones, and boring college sims. The odds of hitting a gem with a random teleport are very low.

The Destination Guide is a good approach to introducing newbies to cool content, but Search is so funky and slow that I doubt many use it. That's a problem with the tool, not the approach.

Jjccc

There is one reason why people do not explore Second life. There are thousands of sims in second life and the destination guide only feature a couple of hundred sims. I actively go looking for new sims to explore that are not on the guide as it is very limited and does not do second justice but the majority of people with slow computers will not be able to find interesting place due to grey lag. Linden Labs no for a fact that once they address the lag in second life buy trebbling the current bandwidth to all users this will wipe out the lagg issues and then second life will become a more fluid place for all users but it will also ean that second life will be ripe for a take over by google or microsoft

Wili Clip

There already is such game that gives people a reason to move around and explore different places - it exists for quite some time now.

Game is called Gold Hunt. It is a very successful game... In fact so successful that LL recently hijacked my account ( I currently can't access my account because they have it on Administrative hold for security check).

My account/avatar name is Wili Clip and I am a developer of Gold Hunt. There are now thousands of small L$ transactions flowing to my alt avatar that was created to hold money that is then one part paid out to players as they collect coins and other part profit for our company.

http://secondads.com/goldhunt/

Gold Hunt works as a traffic tool.
Land Owners set out and fill up their coins with different values. There is a comission paid every time owner fills up the coin - part of payment goes for players rewards and other part to ADS company.

Players go around to search for them. There is also a Gold Hunt HUD that helps them locate lands that are part of Gold Hunt.

Our players collect quite a lot of L$ and that boosts sales in lands that are part of our game.

There is already 36,788 created accounts (all the people that have gold hunt account).
When they collect a coin they get face value of coin into their gold hunt account and points (Gold Tokens).

There is a leaderboard - and Gold Hunt is at the same time grid wide competition system beacuse every player has his score:
http://secondads.com/goldhunt/player-chart/

I don't really understand why should Linden Lab be the one who creates such games especially after long history of "hands away approach" to what is happening inworld.

3rd party content developers can create equally good gaming systems and even much better ones if LL adds more tools (LSL functions).

Linden Lab should let content developers create their own things. LL only needs to provide tools - LSL functions that help content creators.


I am now waiting to get a reply on my support ticket where I provided a copy of my RL identification card as asked by LL. I am waiting now to get back access to my account where source code of that system is stored - I am also in process of creating more games but its now on forced HOLD. LL is disrupting my business because of inspections (they probably want to make sure its not money laundering) even after I've already provided a copy of my RL identification card to LL in past.

2 of our games are featured on official Second Life destinations guide for a long time already:

Gold Hunt and Fish Hunt:
http://secondlife.com/destination/gold-hunt-headquarters
http://secondlife.com/destination/fish-hunt-headquarters

Me and ADS investors who invested in me and my idea to create social network type games within Second Life platform in Zynga on Facebook fashion are getting worried because of main account that stores all source codes of games in development is on administrative hold and I can't access my account to continue with work - my account is 4 years old and I've never broke any of LL TOS with my inworld activities. LL has not given me any other reason for preventing me access to my account then Administrative hold for a security review.

Virtual investment company ADS was put on hold on virtual stock exchange.
http://www.slcapex.com/forums/topic/ADS/5290


We saw a very BIG potential for social network type of games in within Second Life and we are successfully growing our player base. There is a lot of room and ways for us to increase our player retention rate to have it even higher as its now.

Wili Clip
CEO of a virtual company (ADS)

Elsbeth Writer

I define myself as a wanderer in SL...even stating it on my profile :-) In fact, exploring it the only reason I have stayed in SL. So I guess I am in the minority. As for resources to find places to go, there are several:

Blogs - search for Second Life places, destinations, etc
SL Television - two networks that I watch are Metaverse TV and Treet TV. Both have all kinds of programming and information. They are accessible both inworld and on the web.
Hunts - there are lots of hunts every month, sponsored by vendors. Check the events to find them or ask at your favorite store
The many magazines inworld - some are available on the web
Check for groups that have travel, wander, etc in their names

There are MANY ways you can find about places to go to. You just need the desire. I really don't understand why someone would join a world that has so much to see and then not look. *shakes head in exasperation*

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