Tuesday, December 18, 2012

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Second Life Private Estate Ownership Hits 4 Year Low

SL private land revenue

Private estate ownership in Second Life (still by far the largest source of SL-based revenue for Linden Lab) has hit a four year low, according to Tyche Shepherd, a professional data analyst who runs Grid Survey. Private estates, she recently Tweeted, are "lowest since 13th July 2008 when grid was still growing. Lower than bottom of post-OpenSpaces decline 4th April 2009." She's referring to the Openspace Rebellion which began in late 2008, when user protest over price hikes on limited-use private sims provoked a large decline in estate ownership. (Read more about it here.)

This is a new low in recent land ownership in Second Life, but it's not unexpected:

Last June, Tyche told me she forecast Second Life to lose 10% of its total private landmass this year. In January 2012, she told me then, the world had 23,857 sims, and it now has 21,168 -- which means nearly 2,700 sims gone in the interim. By my rough calculation, that's nearly 9% of a total loss, and there's still a few weeks in 2012 left.

This isn't as dire a situation for Second Life, I should add, as it seemed to be at the start of 2012. Since then, Linden Lab has been moving away from land as a revenue model, and pushing for Premium monthly subscriptions, and just as important, expanding its portfolio of offerings beyond Second Life, including the iOS game Creatorverse and the Steam game Patterns. If SL can gain around 250,000 or so Premium subscribers and Linden Lab's other products can gain a few million users, both the world and the company should be secure for the next few years.

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Ezra

"both the world and the company should be secure for the next few years."

The company sure, but the world? Premium growth only increases the amount of Premium homes. Region losses decreases the amount of places there's to see and do things.

There's more to the problem of declining sims than Linden Lab's financials. Like how many of those stores featured in the NWN Reader's Choice will be around in a year's time.

Pussycat Catnap

It is very interesting.

With LLs moving away from land as a revenue model... have they really landed on anything else that is sustainable?

The real statistic we need to measure now, and have no way to track, is "income sources that are used to pay tier on places of high socialization and/or community value."

- We need to find out how the places that give people something to do in SL manage to stay afloat, and then ensure that they can continue to do so.

The entire grid is a house of cards built on those places. With nowhere to go and nothing to do, everything else fades away.

Even with so many playing 'hermit kingdom' in their skyboxes... the lack of an option to go out hurts their socialization with friends who will leave, and with their own perception of being in a place.

Saffia Widdershins

I wrote about this a little earlier in the month, and started a survey to see what people's landholdings were, and how they thought they would change - also what they would need to cause them to keep land.

It's looking interesting (and not wholly surprising). I'll be publishing what I've learned later in the month.

The survey is here: Survey: Second Life Land and You – what does an 11.3% decline in private estates mean to (and for) you?

Eddi Haskell

At a minimum, Linden Lab should be upping the number of prims that a sim supports by at least 15% per year for the same price paid.

Prims are storage. Storage costs drop substantially year-to-year.

If a sim supported 64,000 odd prims in 2008, it should support over 110,000 for the same price in 2013.

The increase in prim offerings would have less of an impact on server architecture than the introduction of mesh and pathfinder do. I cannot figure out why Linden continues with a 5- year old pricing structure for storage (prim use). This slight "give" to Second Life land owners would do much to restore confidence among users.

Emperor Norton

But of course, nobody could have foreseen this.

Hamlet " portfolio of offerings beyond Second Life, including the iOS game Creatorverse and the Steam game Patterns"

I wasn't aware any of those were revenue producers.

Tell me, is LL owned by Bain Capital?


Dargo

When KJ Racing was going well we owned 2 mainland regions, and an island, then after an server update our game zone went to hell and LL was not about to do anything about it... everything was fine i was told, after two months of removing scripted game after scripted game we ended up with an almost empty region that still was lagging like hell, we had to cut off the region all together and after that visits on the the neighboring kart racing track went downhill fast.
Finally we decided to give up owning land all together as the fun running it all was gone.

Iggy

The slide continues in education. We once had 30+ avatars at our weekly meetings, and we're at half that.

No new projects of note, either. It's tier + different emphases in how IT money gets directed (mobile, notably) on many campuses.

Some have migrated to their own OS grids, others out of virtual worlds entirely. At times it seems like the "where is my flying car?" paradox of the 1950 onward: the future we expected just did not arrive, and tech users went off in different directions.

Gaga

I agree with Pussycat, without places of entertainment and stores Second Life will decline even more and, from what I have seen, Linden Lab seems to find ways to make even more money out of the grid but can't offer residents any incentive to get in-world and make more entertainment. I had 5 role play sims up to a year ago while the themed market that visitors land at could help off-set some of the cost with content sales. Since the web Market place has grown my market sales have fallen to less than half what they were. Hence the decision to close some of the sims. I know other role play sims depend upon themed market sales too and they are suffering the losses too.

The Land Barons have a glut of empty property evidenced by the amount of yellow plots on the map and sims are still closing every week with few nothing new to offset it. There is just so much wrong and not least the problems of lag and bugs. The whole economy is being under mind.

In my view the Lab could reduce tier by a third across the board for everyone, Land Barons and Island owners alike. They could up the prim allocation by 5,000 I'm sure. They could get rid of Linden Homes to stimulate demand for rented homes. They could also double the premium stipend since it money they can print and it will get spent in-world. They could also start to consider opening up to the greater Metaverse and possibly selling a proprietary serve package at a reasonable price that can be used to run regions on external hosts where people can still gain access to their inventory securely and effectively remain connected to the Linden grid via an LL version of Hyper grid.

They just have to start thinking outside their shrinking box and Cloud Party and Opensim will no longer pose a significant threat to them. As it stands both Cloud Party, Opensim and others are getting better and more and more people are relocating. Every week now new grids based on Opensim are opening and all of the people running them are from Second Life.

Ricco Saenz

9%? Isn't it 11%? Just checking.

leliel

@ Eddi Haskell

I think you've forgotten the part about how your computer has to render all those prims. People complain about poor performance now with only 15k prims, if LL raised the limit to over 100k the vast majority of people wouldn't be able to use SL.

Adeon Writer

The official blog has been extremely quiet lately.

Gaga

@leliel

You can test prim load on grids like Inworldz or Kitely Virtual. Both those grids and many other Opensim worlds offer higher prim counts than Second Life. I found they render ok and perhaps Kitely the fastest once the regions is initially open from cloud storage. Cloud causes some delay bring the region online for the first times since the last avatar left but once it is active they render faster than Second Life, even with very high prim counts up to 100k (yes, 100,000 prims!) - in my experience.

cyberserenity

Second life is a mature going on old product. It is fantastic that it is still there.
It is natural that we see a decline in everything in SL. Most MMO died a long time ago and even World of warcraft losing subscribers and they make big updates with new and better material all the time.

We virtual world workers are now waiting for the next big thing. My bet it is going to be a mix between Entropia (good graphics, drivable stuff, things to do. but not for everyone) and SL ( user made content). I just cant wait. Where are the risk capitalists?

Bouncer Criss

This isn't surprising at all, it's the SL economy mimicking the world economy

Pussycat Catnap

@Dargo: Your issue was lag which make me wonder on the timing.

If it happened recently it was likely from being matched on the same hardware as a badly done sim. But if it happened in early 2012 back to 2010 - it was likely your visitors.

Script heavy avatars over the past few years were a major problem for SL. Resize scripts in hair and shoes were killing sims left and right. With the advent of linkset resizers and a lot of places checking and publicly calling out script use - the problem is fading. But for a while it looked like the fashionistas would manage to kill SL to preserve their brand loyalty to toxic brands.

That said, if it hit only one sim, and your visitors were generally the same people on all of your sims - then it was a LL problem, and sadly I keep reading how unresponsive they have become to dealing with such issues.

leliel

@ Gaga

A standard prim cube has 108 triangles, times 100k equals 108 million triangles in a single sim. And that's just the best case, sculpties and mesh can have 100 times that per 'prim'. You could be looking at close to a billion triangles in a sim, that would take a few gigabytes of ram just to hold all the vertex data.

Now consider the textures all these prims would be covered with. In SL it's normal to plaster as many high res textures in a sim as you can. But lets be very conservative here and say you only use 50k 256x256x24 textures total. That would only take up a measly 9.1GB of ram.

So yeah, 100 thousand prims in a sim. Totally a good idea.

P.S. Please for the love of god stop saying 'but you can do it in opensim grid X', here's a news flash for you, nobody has actually tried to build anything with all those prims at the same quality level that is commonly seen in sl.

Gaga

@leliel

Yeah, Okay, that is your view but there are many examples of sims using more than 15000 prims. No, they don't all use the 100K allocation on Opensim grids like Kitely but there are some fantatic builds easily as good as anything in Second Life. In fact, there is no difference between SL and OS in build quality if you are a decent builder. It depends where you look. Second Life has plenty of rubbish builds but also some truly amazing builds. The same is true of OS grids, absolutely.

Gaga

@leliel

My point was however, that Linden Lab could offer more prims than 15000. I think they could add an extra 5000 at least to a full sim.

leliel

I never said the couldn't offer more. Six times more is a bit much tho.

CronoCloud Creeggan

I'm not worried about the number of regions, there's a land glut, there's more clubs/events and whatnot than anyone could ever attend, and more being started all the time.

Some stores closing is a good thing, there's a content glut.

Marketplace is a good thing, it makes the shoppers and merchants happy. Shoppers can shop without going to laggy badly designed builds, and merchants can sell without being overly reliant on land barons.

Of course, land owners hate it, especially the roleplay ones, but roleplay has always been a niche in SL supported by "angels" You want to support a RP region? sell residential space not mall space.

And as for opensim and kitely, sure they can offer more prims, because they have no people! you slap 20 SL style mesh wearing, high res texture wearing, prim happy avatars in one of those 100000 prim regions and see what happens.

ZZ Bottom

Be 100 regions or 100.000 what matters is how many are in World at a time!
LL needs to ensure that sims can handle more then 20 avatars without lag and make cross sims smoother (and they are trying to do that!).
Then they can offer more m2 on mainland to premium members with same tier level, increasing the number of avatars where it matters, the continents!
Cause private sims, disconneted form eacbh others, those we have already in open sims grids at much better price!
And as most users log in on Sl for the 30 min sex period, adult continents are needed more then any else!
Our home at zindra is on a sim that has always more then 30 avatars at same time and lag is not a problem, so its Zindra that LL needs to follow and not any thing else!

Ezra

@CronoCloud

If only land losses and store closings were entirely glut and not regularly inclusive of grid favorites that were many people's reasons for sticking around in SL in the first place.

And in addition to competing against experience creators' commercial rentals with Marketplace, they also compete against residential rentals with Linden Homes. Heck, they're competing against the actual created experiences with Linden Realms and Wilderness. It's no wonder so many people feel less inclined to give Linden Lab money. Given their behavior they're likely to launch "Linden Clubbing" and "Linden Roleplay" next year.

But let's continue this Rodvik experiment of allowing third party volunteers to work on SL's most exciting new features (deformer, material system), and either competing with creators in Second Life or ignoring their top needs entirely to gamble on a 1 amongst 700,000 iOS app and yet another Minecraft-like game.

Gaga

You can always rely on merchants that do well out of the web Market place and spend nothing in-world supporting the community to belittle
role playing as niche when, in fact, role play accounts for a huge part of the population that spends the most time in Second Life every day. I would also argue they account for more content sales because the average role player will be playing in more than one venue with more than one alt name. Each alt will need outfitting so one actual players could be spending a fair amount of money while others such as music lovers, clubbers and those with basic erotic interests will be less likely to spend so much on a bunch of avatars simply because they don't need so many.

There are lots of other reasons to go in-world to explore but it is the regions with interesting role play themes that bring people back more often so the people who organize role play and fund it need find ways to off-set the cost when they are more often than not making their world and theme available free. Linden Lab gives no recognition or support to this vital part of the SL community. Even the none-profit discounts have been taken away and Market Place has brought a slump to in-world shopping. Without the role players and land barons it is probable that Second Life would decline even faster.


supported by "angels" You want to support a RP region? sell residential space not mall space.

to belittle the


down the efforts of a whole bunch of people working hard in-world

Gaga

Whoops! The last few sentences after the main paragraphs in my last post above are pastes from when I was working on the comment and they got accidentally left in. Sorry about that so please disregard. I couldn't edit them out!

Gaga

One just has to think of all the weapons sales which are bought by role players. Then there are the huge numbers of role play props and prefabs. Add to that the boats, aircraft and military stuff for war games and sailing. Role play and competitive sports is big business in Second Life but they need many diverse regions dedicated to their needs. Someone has to pay for all that and it sure isn't Linden Lab or the the Merchants that sell on Market place and don't both with in-world stores any more.

CronoCloud Creeggan

Gaga. think of all the "stuff" bought by avatars that are NOT RPers, and frankly there's more non-RPers than RPers, always been that way.

And as I said, you want to pay for an RP sim?

1. Either have a well heeled "angel" or group of "angels" bankroll it.

2. Sell residential plots.

And I dare say the "fashion world" dwarfs the business the "competitive sports" and traditional RP. (Though in some ways, Fashion is also RP)

Or to put it another way, I hang out in Steampunky/Vintage/Retro themed places, but just because I see a lot of Steampunkers, doesn't mean that everyone in SL is. It's a niche market.


Gaga

@CronoCloud

I respect your point of view but I don't agree with you and I defy you to prove what you claim with the evidence of a survey at least. I can't prove outright that role play is more than a niche in Second Life but RP takes so many forms wherever you go that it is hard to deny it. I run role play regions myself and a themed market to support the game and help offset the rent paid to a Land Baron. A year ago my market sales were greater than they are now. In fact, because I sell my own content and affiliate stuff I know exactly what the sales are and I can tell you they are half what they were. Now, if the game was failing to attract people then I would understand the fall in sales maybe but, in our case, if anything, our RPG is doing ok and has not declined any. People are just not buying and that is a fact.

As for renting out land I am not in the rental business nor do i want to handle all that. I would be a fool to invest at Linden prices to enter the rental business with so many empty rental sims around and land Barons in the best position to undercut prices. Even Linden Lab damages the rental market so they can claw in premium accounts. In fact, my RPG is a none-profit dedicated to a theme I am my fellow players enjoy. I have not broken even on costs in a long time and I was forced to close three regions last year and just manage with two. I know other venues have closed and given up and it has a lot to do with declining traffic and the slump on In-world sales. This is something I do know about and have experience in.

Gaga

@CronoCloud

I respect your point of view but I don't agree with you and I defy you to prove what you claim with the evidence of a survey at least. I can't prove outright that role play is more than a niche in Second Life but RP takes so many forms wherever you go that it is hard to deny it. I run role play regions myself and a themed market to support the game and help offset the rent paid to a Land Baron. A year ago my market sales were greater than they are now. In fact, because I sell my own content and affiliate stuff I know exactly what the sales are and I can tell you they are half what they were. Now, if the game was failing to attract people then I would understand the fall in sales maybe but, in our case, if anything, our RPG is doing ok and has not declined any. People are just not buying and that is a fact.

As for renting out land I am not in the rental business nor do i want to handle all that. I would be a fool to invest at Linden prices to enter the rental business with so many empty rental sims around and land Barons in the best position to undercut prices. Even Linden Lab damages the rental market so they can claw in premium accounts. In fact, my RPG is a none-profit dedicated to a theme I am my fellow players enjoy. I have not broken even on costs in a long time and I was forced to close three regions last year and just manage with two. I know other venues have closed and given up and it has a lot to do with declining traffic and the slump on In-world sales. This is something I do know about and have experience in.

shockwave yareach

It is LL's own fault. We lifetimers have screamed, yelled, begged, written books and quietly explained the major issues to LL. We've pointed out this would happen. Nobody took us seriously.

LL doesn't give a dang anymore. So neither do we.

Phantom Republic

I love how some people are "blaming" Marketplace for all that's wrong with SL, as if it were some sort of anti-market conspiracy. For those with short attention spans, remember that Marketplace was started by a resident, then PURCHASED by LL who upgraded and integrated it into the main website. It's considerably more efficient that it was before, and yes - while there's tons wrong with SL, it does show that the good people of LL occasionally make things better when they put their collective minds to it.

Archangel Mortenwold

As many of us have kept saying, Second Life will continue to decline as long as virtual land prices remain so high. We're in a depressed economy with no end in sight. Average people have less and less money to spend. We simply can't afford to pay the outrageous tier prices. And since we can't afford land anymore, that's cutting into the estate owners' earnings. They're getting out while they can.

The only thing that will reverse the decline in private region ownership is an across-the-board price cut back down to pre-2008 levels. Lower prices and advertise to bring back paying customers, and watch us return. Keep the prices sky high and Linden Lab will have priced itself out of business within a couple of years.

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