Monday, July 08, 2013

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Rod Humble Says Oculus Rift + Second Life Goes Public This Summer (Yay!) & New SL User Retention is 20% (Wha?)

Rod-Humble Linden Lab CEO

All Things D has a very good interview with Linden Lab CEO Rod Humble, who offers at least two tidbits worth noting. First the Oculus Rift, which as I reported, Linden Lab is working to integrate with Second Life. Turns out, we will see the fruits of that work quite soon:

We have it up and running, and right now we’re working on usability. You need to integrate it with the Rift so you can look around and touch things. I think it’s late summer when it’ll be public. I’ve ridden on a train within Second Life with the Oculus Rift on, and it’s very cool.

Emphasis mine, because, whoa. Another point makes me scratch my head instead, because Mr. Humble has it that 20% of Second Life's 400,000 new users every month log at least once again:

How many people get over the first hurdle and find that something [interesting in SL]? It’s usually about 20 percent are going to be around a month afterward. That’s a massive drop-off, but it’s still not too bad compared to other services.

To me, that just deepens the mystery of Second Life's lack of user growth. Based on Linden Lab's own stats, monthly active users have remained at 600,000 for the last few years:

And while the company now reports 1 million monthly users, 400,000 of them are new sign-ups – and almost all of them give up after the first try. So the real user base is not that different than it was five years ago, when Second Life had about 550,000 active users.

So if 80,000 of those 400,000 are retained every month, how come the monthly active user base hasn't grown since 2008? Unless, I guess, if around that number of existing active users go dormant every month. But that's hard to believe too. Help me out, NWN readers, what am I missing?

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Galatea

"So if 80,000 of those 400,000 are retained every month, how come the monthly active user base hasn't grown since 2008?" 80,000 is the number that are retained for a month. How many of them are still around after two months? And three? The rate of drop-off no doubt decreases, but how quickly? If 20% of them are around a month later, but only 10% of them a month after that, and 5% left after three months... you can see how this would lead to a very slow growth in the year-to-year stats. It also suggests that the later drop-offs are for reasons other than complicated UI or the like -- those are the people lost in the first month. It means we lose users quickly for reasons other than UI or it just not being their kind of game from the start.

Metacam Oh

Second Life locations and entities cannot market to the wider world because of the SL bottleneck that requires you to go through the SL website to register and get in world. Need to allow people to have their own registration apis and directly dropping people off at the specified location. When people can finally market to the world and see the results directly, you could possibly see things going viral, but right now you have no incentive to recruit new people to see your SL project because they will get lost and or turned off by going through the Second Life web site.

Ezra

It's difficult to believe 80,000 are mostly bots or alts. It's also difficult to believe 80,000 new users are offsetting 80,000 lost users a month. That'd be quite some churn, and on a micro-level of my friend list and groups I'm apart of I don't see that kind of churn. I'd bet most people don't.

So who knows.

Mondy

There could be a situation similar to mine where I created an account in 2007, wasn't overly impressed and left till 2009. For some reason it clicked and I started having fun.
Over the last few months, I seem to have encountered an awful lot of people who tell me they haven't logged in for a couple of years and have either made new accounts for themselves or logged in needing to go shopping to update their avatars and; they're impressed with Mesh, physics, multiple layers etc.
Yesterday someone else told me they hadn't been on for a long time but had just read an article about SL and decided to give it another go.
Who know, maybe there'll be some growth from these dormant users coming back.

JoJa Dhara

When the internet started and we explored the 2.0 sites a lot could handle by themselves but a large grouo went to courses. Some even how to make websites. Now we have 3d internet and again a group could handle themselves but this time a larger group get lost. The 3d web is a great platform. With good guidance it can work and specially with help of the community. True they should have never killed the community gateway programes. Stimulate business to be a stakeholder with indeed api so people wil be directed to where the business want them to be ( just like the websites)
Fine all these numbers but reality is different so long you see them as a number and not the value. Intresting that sl gets a new toy. ...is it usefull? I understand for gamers it is indeed more usefull fun.
While in sl it is all about creation and market this beside the social aspect and teaching etc etc. Why not expand that? I honest see more a point in a toy for sl 3d printing then an oculus rift But ok solong their are no proper tutorial programes world wide sl stays as it is...the world that suprisely still exsist by people you tell but not adopted as the worldwideweb....

CronoCloud Creeggan

Galatea wrote: "It also suggests that the later drop-offs are for reasons other than complicated UI or the like -- those are the people lost in the first month. It means we lose users quickly for reasons other than UI or it just not being their kind of game from the start."

Yep. I consider 6 months the true test. If the newbie makes it to the 6 month mark they're here to stay because they "found something". I've always believed that 3D virtual worlds are a niche market and that they simply aren't appealing to most.


Metacam wrote: "Need to allow people to have their own registration apis and directly dropping people off at the specified location. "

LL did that for a while, it didn't really help all that much.

Mondy wrote:Over the last few months, I seem to have encountered an awful lot of people who tell me they haven't logged in for a couple of years and have either made new accounts for themselves or logged in needing to go shopping to update their avatars and; they're impressed with Mesh, physics, multiple layers etc. "

Yes! I've been seeing a LOT of that for about the past year or so. And more newbies. Some of these "new newbies" seem quicker on the uptake and adapt quicker to SL than the newbies of the past.

Archangel Mortenwold

1.) The user interface on the default LL viewer is nearly impossible to figure out, and most new users can't make heads or tails of it. LL needs to return to the V1 interface while keeping all its newest goodies. If the developers of Singularity and Cool VL Viewer can do it, so can LL.

2.) They get a look at how bloody expensive SL can really be, especially with regards to virtual land, and decide their money is better spent elsewhere. Who wants to pay a thousand U.S. dollars for a full region and then another three hundred a month in maintenance fees?

Make a viewer that doesn't turn new users off and lower the prices back down to pre-2008 levels and LL will start to increase its new user retention, and keep its older users to boot.

Ajax Manatiso

Shaking my head at Mondy mentioning "they're impressed with Mesh, physics, multiple layers etc." -- I spend a lot of time on my sim and traffic is very high and I have never, ever heard anyone say anything like that, newbie or oldbie. It's like someone saying they are impressed by the compression ratios in the combustion chambers of their car -- it never happens. The drop off is due to people feeling alone and confused. A lot of newbies pop into my sim asking what this game is about, how do you dance, what is the point ... but I usually don't have the time to walk them through everything. Probably the number one question is -- you hear music? How come I don't?? If the official viewer could just have audio on by default the retention rate would climb. Imagine if you signed up for pilot's school and they said -- well, there's your plane, climb in and take off and radio me if you have any questions.

Jo yardley

The most important thing about SL is that new users realise as soon as possible what they can do here.
The second I found a sim that I liked with people I liked, I knew I wanted to stay.
The second I started learning how to buil, I knew I was lost.
Helping new people figure out why they want to stay in SL, what kind of community they want to be part of and/or what they want to build, is the most important thing.
Because the second that happened I knew I wanted to learn how it all worked and started climbing the steep learning curve.

Arcadia Codesmith

Sounds like shallow churn. They may stick around a month or two, but then they're off to something else, never having made any significant connection with the community. A few stay on, just enough to replace attrition from older users.

Usage stats are always problematic with free-to-play games. LL has a better picture of the dynamics, but good luck getting them to share.

Metacam Oh

Crono, poorly implementing community gateways for a small fraction of sim owners does not constitute trying and failing.

Pussycat Catnap

At least once again is not retention.

BUT it does trend well with what I blogged about a while back:
http://catnapkitty.wordpress.com/2013/01/02/new-theory-on-sl-signups-that-never-seem-to-join-theyre-forum-spam-bots/

- IF - we look at the other 80% and theorize about who they are. I suspect most of them never log in once, because they were not designed to in the first place - they were SEO bots attracted like flies to honey, and shelved for later use by the systems that made them.

80,000 signups then, as the real number of people trying out SL, is not bad.

There is nothing complex about using SL. Nothing to scare away new users. If you believe there is, its because you're too old for the modern world... If anything, SL is easier to use than a lot of what those pesky kids who won't get off my lawn use...

People who think 80% of the signups, some 320,000 a month, a people who find this simple software too hard to use... those people have some serious egos about their own smarts. Sadly, we are not the intellectual elites of the world, let alone the tech savvy elites. And this thing is not that hard to use for the real tech-literate.

Of the 80,000 who do show up because they were real. Most come back at least one more time because doing so is trivially easy to do. Whether or not they then stick... that's on us residents, not Linden Labs.

Maybe we're just not as interesting as we think we are...

(I don't find this an insult, I have teenage nephews and nieces: I know what is interesting. I am pretty glad I'm not.)

:D

Sundog Sakai

I'm surprised there isn't more user response about this promise of Rift support.

Oculus has gotten tremendous media attention and I have a developer kit and I believe that Immersive Headsets with tracking represent a massive infusion of new consumers into Second Life and OpenSim.

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