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Tuesday, May 17, 2011

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Nalates Urriah

OpenSim is taking a toll on SL... or may be the Lab is just not providing the customer service and competitive pricing needed to hold them.

There is no doubt many on OpenSim grids are bitter toward SL & LL.

The world recession continues and we see that reflected as more an more hobbyists give up expensive SL real estate.

One of the biggest factors in player retention is player interactions. The recent set back in the chat upgrade is probably a major blow to SL player retention. Word is they a moving ahead on a new chat path.

Recent repeated roll backs of sim software and higher crash rates is not helping.

It will be an interesting year.

Maria Korolov

I don't think it's accurate to say that the OpenSim user base isn't growing.

First of all, there is no way to tell. The top 40 OpenSim grids are not necessarily indicative of OpenSim users in general.

I personally don't think that these grids are bringing in new OpenSim users. I think they are more likely to be siphoning off folks from Second Life.

These top 40 grids I'm tracking are social grids, while OpenSim's killer app is either closed or hypergridded private worlds for schools and companies.

Those private grids are definitely bringing in new users into virtual worlds -- they're bringing in their students, their employees, their partners and customers.

Last summer, ReactionGrid alone was running over 100 private grids for schools and companies. Today there are a number of other vendors offering private grid services, including ones offering even more functionality than ReactionGrid. PioneerX, for example, is having problems keeping up with the influx of new customers.

What is interesting about the growth of the top 40 social grids that I'm tracking is that their users are exactly in Second Life's target demographic -- builders, innovators, explorers willing to pay money for regions on a commercial grid. Every dollar that goes to InWorldz or Avination, or one of the 30-plus grids that rent regions, is a dollar that's not going to Linden Lab.

These grids are siphoning off some of Second Life's most talented creators, designers, and interesting groups -- like the Elf Clan.

-- Maria

Hamlet Au

Maria, if you write a comprehensive report on the total number of monthly active users on OS grids, I'll be happy to blog it. But you know, even if it was 10x the estimated 15,000, it would still be a niche of a niche.

Ignatius Onomatopoeia

I suspect it's less the galaxy of small OS grids than the big walled-garden ones: Avination and InWorldz, that are chipping away at SL's base. I don't know enough about the biggest one, OSGrid, to comment.

Small OpenSim grids linked by hypergrid teleports, hosted or run locally, are perfect for many us educators with SL experience. If you don't need a large community but only want to build simulations used on and off, it's the ticket.

I just paid my tier for a year, our of pocket. It was a little more than ONE MONTH's tier in SL for a private island, and I have everything I need (or have built it) for fall classes.

All that said, if a teacher wants students to explore a large and vibrant community, SL is still the place to be (InWorldz, IMHO, also competes here).

Nothing quite compared to having students go to Burning Life...well, until LL stopped supporting it, too.

Danielle

I have tested a "private level" using the Blue Mars SDK, and had visitors while I was there. When Crytek (which makes the engine Blue Mars runs on) releases their CryEngine 3 SDK this August, it will be possible for someone to make the equivalent of Opensim on that platform - i.e. a free building platform. Game levels there can be up to 16x16 km in size, which is larger than any SL continent. It will be interesting to see how that develops.

Note that CryEngine 3 works on PCs, XBox, and Playstation, and possibly iOS. It's listed for the last in one location and I am trying to verify if that is correct. So that is a wide range of potential users. 3D models for it are compatible with the SL mesh format models.

Meanwhile, the SL mesh project code is now integrated into the mainline viewer-development code (although not turned on). Interesting times all around.

Ignatius Onomatopoeia

typo in the first post: "many *of* us educators."

BTW, I'll leave you and Maria to duke it out over the meaning of "niche."

I've no problem with a niche. Heck, higher ed is a niche career; virtual-worlds studies are a niche of a niche.

LL under Rod Humble shows signs of improving communication. That's wonderful, but they'll need to cut tier to compete with what InWorldz and Avination already offer.

These are not the sort of DIY grids that many educators have moved to. They work well, and from Soror Nishi < http://sorornishi.blogspot.com/2011/05/euro-phlox-test-party.html > I hear that InWorldz' Phlox Script Engine provides something SL does not: big events without lag or gray people.

Maria Korolov

No, I totally agree that the OpenSim user base is a niche -- and that the users of the top social grids make up a itsy bitsy teeny weeny percentage of the Second Life user base.

However the main niche is educators and other folks running private grids -- which, unfortunately, are currently unmeasurable.

My point is that it's not accurate to say that the pool of users isn't growing. But also no way to say for sure that it is. Indirect evidence (vendors reporting more customers coming in for new grids, downloads of Diva Distros, etc...) seems to indicate that's the case, but right now there's no way to prove it.

I'd love to get accurate user numbers, but I haven't been able to figure out any way to do that.

The standard approach would be to survey the general population, and ask them how many of them are using OpenSim. Someday, the Pew Internet project or Nielsen might do just that -- but OpenSim will have to grow quite a bit to get to that point!

Lucius Nesterov

SL almost certainly has more bots than OpenSim has users in those main grids. SL's draw is mainly content and other people. It will dominate both for some time yet, but if it can't retain creative and talented users then it will slowly lose ground.

Although we maintain islands for educational use in SL, the thing I like most about OpenSim is that I can turn it on when I need it, and when I don't it isn't costing any money. That kind of use would look very poor in any statistics, but is likely to be widespread in education.

Arcadia Codesmith

As attractors shift, so will people.

I know a LOT of businesses and entertainers who have opened shop in Inworldz while maintaining a presence in SL. Exanding within SL is economically prohibitive; expanding in IW is (comparatively) cheap and easy.

Goods and services in some of these worlds are building to the point where the experience is as good as or better than Second Life, at a fraction of the cost.

SL's domination at present is based on a circular paradigm -- more people come here because more people are here. That's thin ice upon which to build a palace, and it's already starting to melt.

8ball

Maria,

I don't 100% agree.
While it may be true that Opensim is getting new users from e.g. Universities et cetera coming to privately hosted or hypergridded regions, it's not true to say that every dollar spent on region hosting is one lost from Second Life.

The problem is that Second Life regions are way too expensive for what they offer. I have a 512 sqm region in SL where I have a paltry hundred some prims and I have had a full region on osgrid and now aurora for $9.99 per month.

It is more correct to say that opensim is capturing those from second life who would love to have a region but cannot afford two hundred some dollars per month to pay for it.

I'd love to be able to afford a region on SL because what's the point of having a region if nobody comes to visit unless you're using it for your own personal sandbox?

SL's pricing structure has been artificially supported because a full region can support a bunch of creators who are earning linden$$$ and thus can afford to pay tier in addition to those rich enough to be able to afford to pay for private islands.

If they offered a lot cheaper non commercial land where you couldn't sell anything but could just build, I suspect we'd see a lot more people buy regions in SL.

The pricing structure just isn't viable for anybody who doesn't either have deep pockets or the ability to draw in a whole bunch of smaller merchants or else is a high volume seller themselves.

Me personally what's the killer app is server side NPCs with combat abilities. Aurora is out there in front of every other version of opensim and SL in that regard. That said if I could get server side combat NPCs in second life on a cheap region I'd pay for that, probably more than I'd pay for an opensim region to be hosted.

For me the breaking point is about $50 a month but I'm not going to pay $50 a month to Linden with no NPCs.

For me to pay that kind of money, Second Life isn't meeting my needs if all I can do is display my art or buy stuff or build stuff.

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