Linden Lab is now reporting Second Life monthly active users as just 800,000 - a figure first mentioned in Kristen French's Wired/Backchannel article last week. That's a significant drop from the last few years: In 2013, Linden Lab reported 1 million monthly actives in SL, it remained that rate in 2014, and then in 2015, Linden Lab CEO Ebbe Altberg put the figure at 900,000 monthly actives. Now they're saying it's 800,000.
Why the drop?
"We've made a number of optimizations to our user acquisition efforts to get more qualified traffic," Linden Lab spokesman Peter Gray tells me. "As a result, though the total number of monthly actives has come down, the number of paying SL users has held steady."
Translating that from online marketing jargon, he means roughly this:
Linden Lab has changed their advertising and marketing campaigns to get potential users who more likely to stay, cutting down on churn from people who may create an account or even try using the SL client, but leave after the first log-in. I've long argued that SL's actual, meaningful, active user base has been closer to 600,000 for many years (based on sources and data the company publicly reports), with paying users -- both people who buy/rent land, have a monthly Premium account, and/or purchase Linden Dollars -- somewhere in the range of 400,000-500,000. Seven years ago, using a somewhat different counting method, SL was reported to have around 800,000 users. So most likely, dropping from 1,000,000 to 800,000 reported users isn't so much a loss of actual people as a trimming of marketing fluff.