Last Chance to See in Second Life: 2 Gorgeous MMO Sims

Vampire Roleplay Second Life

Bad news via Ziki Questi: Venexia (above) and Goatswood, two beautiful and acclaimed MMO roleplay sims owned and managed by the SGS/eDream Factory studio, are going away very soon - June 13 and 19th, respectively. Ziki has all the details and links you need, and notes that waning traffic seems to be the problem:

[O]ver time, the sims have become more and more quiet, to the point where visitors might now find themselves wandering solo. Guests have always been welcomed and provided with a free three-day pass, but perhaps for the casual explorer that very aspect diminished the sims' desirability as places to simply visit.

With less and less active users paying the sim owners to play their MMOs, paying Linden Lab $300 each month for each sim quickly became unsustainable. This is disappointing, because while most sim owners can't afford to keep operating without a revenue model, these two did.

Here's a machinima of Venexia, BTW:

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Cthulhu Can't Cover the Rent! Beautiful Lovecraft Tribute Faces Deletion From SL If Not Saved by Supporters in Time

Second Life HP Lovecraft Tribute

Innsmouth, a very beautiful (if ungodly horror is beautiful) Second Life sim-wide tribute to the works of HP Lovecraft, is in jeopardy of leaving Second Life, according to the blog of the HP Lovecraft Roleplay Group (HPL-RPG) in SL:

On September 15th, Darmin Darkes, the owner of the Innsmouth-themed sim announced the following: “Innsmouth sim is for sale. I’m giving first dibs to you folks in the hopes that someone will want to keep some of the build. Worst case is having to flatten it and sell it. I just can’t afford it any longer..." As a result of this notice, a number of Second Lifers have been working together, through a group called, “The Innsmouth Preservation Society,” to help with the upkeep and potentially to purchase this sim, then maintain it.

Emphasis mine, because it needs emphasizing. Go here to get involved. And, of course, click here to visit Innsmouth while there's still time.

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Second Life Private Sims Slip to 2008 Levels (But That's OK)

This is the picture of an old majestic ship slowly sinking while the crew scavenges the hull to build an entirely new vessel:

SL Grid Tyche Private Sims

It is, of course, the current state of Second Life private sim ownership, the core revenue source for Linden Lab -- which, as data expert Tyche Shepherd reports, has now slipped to below 2008 levels, when Second Life was riding high. (Infographic from her indispensable Grid Survey site.)

Now ordinarily, this news would lead to a lot of outrage and yelps of terror among hardcore SLers, but as I said last week, we now need to look at this loss from a totally new perspective:

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After Brief Bump, Second Life Private Sim Loss Returns

Last month we noticed an unexpected growth in Second Life private sim ownership (according to Grid Survey), which was nice, since sims constitute Second Life's core revenue. This month, however, all that gain has sadly slipped away:

Second Life sim loss

In March, many over-enthusiastic SLers were proclaiming the temporary gain as an "Ebbe effect", attributing it to the entrance and leadership of new Linden Lab CEO Ebbe Altberg -- but were that the case, the gains should still be happening. Instead, this return to the status quo shows what's really going on:

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Second Life's Private Sim Revenue in 2013 Forecast at $48M, Down From $61M in 2010

Second Life monthly sim revenue

Crunching the numbers from Tyche Shepherd's Grid Survey data, Ener Hax has a new forecast for revenue Linden Lab is earning from private sims: $47,700,000 in 2013, which is down from $60,624,000 in 2010. Back in 2011, Linden Lab's spokesman told me just under 80% of the company’s revenue is from land fees, so this could be a fairly sharp drop in overall revenue for the company. At the same time, Linden Lab seems to be getting pretty good revenue with Blocksworld, its new iOS app, while it's also boosted promotion for its monthly Premium subscriptions for Second Life, so it's possible some or even much of this private sim shortfall has been made up for by other revenue streams.

And yet again, as I've saying for several years, this also means Second Life needs new users to survive. Oculus Rift integration could bring many in, as could a robust mobile version. And yet again, no, as I keep repeating about as much, lowering private sim fees will not stop the loss of private sim revenue, only make it worse. Here's why:

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Japanese-Themed Hosoi Ichiba Sims Leave SL for Kitely


Hosoi Ichiba, a Japanese-themed SL market which supported six very beautiful sims, has entirely left Second Life, moving to the OpenSim-based Kitely. The sims had attracted a community of some 150-200 SLers, owner Amiryu Hosoi tells me, "All very active in samurai, geisha and villagers roles", but the collapsing real world economy made it difficult for Hosoi to maintain those islands.

During its heyday, he says, "There were months Hosoi Ichiba earned about $4000 USD/month and every dime flooded back in the project... I had 5 people working for me assisting customers and helping them find what they needed." Then the bottom started to fall out:

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SL Private Sim Loss Trends Still Remain Steady

Ener Hax has another sobering chart of Second Life private sim loss trends which illustrate (to me) why it's so important that Linden Lab's Blocksworld succeed, and why it's worth risking so much on the hope that the Oculus Rift creates another market for Second Life:

Second Life sim loss

The trendlines look even more dire when you see the whole chart. At this point, the evidence is so overwhelming, it's not worth explaining yet again that Second Life/Linden Lab cannot survive on its current revenue stream or its existing userbase alone:

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Second Life Sim Loss Seems to be Slowing (But Fast Enough?)

Second Life sim loss

Ener Hax crunches the numbers and reports that Second Life private sim loss seems to be slowing (as her chart above suggests), leading her to wonder: "Will there be some point, maybe next year, that Second Life sees a private sim growth rate of zero?"

Hint: probably not.

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Why Losing Second Life Sims is So Serious to SL's Future

When I argued yesterday that it's not good enough for Second Life to coast while it's core revenue base of private sims erodes, amazingly, many readers were skeptical, with some even arguing that it's a good thing SL keeps getting smaller. But Ener Hax has another way of looking at the problem, and maybe her perspective will convince some of those skeptics (though sadly, I'm not holding my breath):

SL sim loss

Money quote: "If we assume a constant ratio of 54% full to 45% homesteads... that would mean that in November of 2008, Linden Lab was making $5.4 million a month versus today’s $4.1 million. A drop of $1.3 million a month."

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SL Steampunk Sim Armada Breakaway Soon Going Away

Armada Breakaway

Emily Orr has a plangent tribute to the Second Life steampunk sim Aramada Breakaway, which is soon going away from the SL grid. "All has been done to save it, but there is just too much empty land," announced the owner. However, he added: "There will be an end of Armada party on Saturday 26 from 7-9pm SLT and everyone is invited!" Click here to teleport there.

Here's Emily on what this loss means:

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