Comes a report backed up by data (from Linden Lab, of course, but no indication it is anything but correct) that gives a glowing picture of health for Second Life. In some circles, the drop-off in press coverage was equated with the pending demise, but it seems that SL continues to develop just fine. What I would read into some of the figures: yes, plenty of people try SL, get discouraged by the learning curve, and drop out within days. Enough persist, however, to continue solid growth, and that remnant may be enough to fuel the growth of the general metaverse (including canonical SL along with the various Open Simulators that are, basically, open source versions AND other virtual worlds).
A couple of highlights:
“Land in Second Life has grown roughly 18 percent from Q1 of 2009 and approximately 75 percent since Q1 of 2008.” The 75 percent figure is particularly interesting. There is always some bit of SL land that is not owned by residents, but it’s a very small percentage, so that sort of huge increase indicates a vast increase in actual user involvement.
“The inworld economy, says Linden Lab reps, grew 94 percent year-over-year from Q2 2008 to Q2 2009. Now at nearly USD$50 million each month in user-to-user transactions, the Second Life economy is on an annual run rate of more than a half billion US dollars.” At a time when the rest of the world is struggling just to get even again, that’s pretty healthy no matter how you look at it. And, again, it indicates some genuine involvement, even if it is only a small percentage of the people who go in to give SL a try.
That also means that if Linden Lab manages to increase the retention rate by just a few percentage points, the growth of SL could double or triple.