Bad Sign: Linden Lab to No Longer Publish SL User Stats
Tateru got a good scoop: Linden Lab will no longer publish quarterly or annual Second Life economy reports. I wondered if that also meant the company would no longer publish monthly unique user stats and hourly usage stats, and asked company spokesman Peter Gray that very thing. And Mr. Gray did say:
Yes, we're no longer going to do the quarterly economic summary blog posts. Here's the official statement: We are discontinuing regular reporting of aggregate economy-level data, because landowners and merchants have told us that the information is of limited value to them. Moving forward, we will instead focus on improved reporting tools that help individuals better manage their businesses in SL.
But the thing is, monthly user and hourly usage numbers are of great value to the broader tech/gaming industry, so if Linden Lab stops publishing those, the company's narrative of SL as a profitable product with a relatively small but dedicated user base will be thrown further in doubt. So I'm not quite sure why the company is doing this, especially after Nielsen reported SL once again in its top ten PC games in the US. But it's hard not to think the overall picture of SL's health is not as rosy. And gives more credence to this analysis from Botgirl Questi, which echoes what a number of insiders have told me in recent months:
My guess is that Linden Lab calculated that even if they solved all current issues by investing a million or two on reengineering legacy systems, revenue would still decline over time. OpenSim and other emerging platforms are offering land at a tenth the price of Second Life. As the competition's communities, economies and capabilities mature, Linden Lab's customer base will continue to erode. A dramatic cut in land pricing isn't an answer because that would create a corresponding cut in revenue. There is no sign that the market for sandbox worlds like Second Life will significantly increase in the foreseeable future. So there's really not a lot of upside for them. It's no wonder that they made the decision to take advantage of their current cash-rich situation to invest in new products that offer, at least potentially, a much higher return on investment.
So take a good look at these SL user stat charts from Q3 2011 embedded above, because in all likelihood, they're the last of their kind you're ever going to see.Tweet