Linden Lab clams up on metrics

Tateru Nino has a great story on how Linden Lab will no longer be providing SL economy metrics:

Essentially, over the years, the figures have been progressively stripped of the supporting data that gave them meaning, and now hardly anyone can understand what’s left. That kind of makes it a waste of time to extract the data and generate the reports in the first place.

Of course, the other side of the coin is this: When a company stops reporting some key statistic, it is almost always because the figure suddenly has gone South or otherwise looks bad. The Lab has stripped key items out of the reports on a number of occasions, as I mentioned, and it doesn’t take any great stretch of the imagination to figure that they were taken out because those figures were going sour, or that they appeared to be going sour because other data that would have aided in the interpretation of the figures was absent.

The latter tends to have a bit of a snowball effect. You stop publishing a metric that might be misinterpreted as bad, and then eventually its absence makes another metric misinterpretable as bad, until you’re left with a small set of metrics that don’t tell anyone anything terribly useful.

Here’s a post I did in May 2007, showing how far the transparency has declined. Here’s hoping this decision isn’t indicative of a more fundamental decline.

Second Life metrics Q4 2010: stagnation and Hong Kong comparisons

Linden Lab have released some limited (extremely limited if you compare to say three years ago) statistics on Second Life’s performance for the fourth quarter of 2010. It’s a snapshot of stability really, or stagnation if you expect some signs of growth in a platform of Second Life’s longevity. Average monthly repeat logins are up slightly whilst total user hours remained the same, meaning that on average people spent less time in Second Life. Web sales of SL merchandise continue to grow, albeit at an expected slower pace than previous quarters.

One regular point of fascination for a lot of people is how big Second Life is. Coming in a little over two thousand square kilometres now makes it around the size of the Maritius. Linden Lab equate it to two Hong Kongs. Either way it’s a pretty pointless but fun comparison.

On the economy I’m going to directly quote colleague Tateru Nino:

Now, the currency supply. It seems that after a long time, Linden Lab is finally selling L$ on the market again. The money supply is up, LindeX trading volumes are likewise up, and the value of the Linden Dollar (relative to the USD) improved. These are all good economic signs. It’s too soon to call that an economic recovery, but it is certainly looking promising. 100,000 fewer accounts paid or received Linden Dollars by any means than in Q3, following a decline that started at the end of Q1. So, fewer economic participants, but an apparent improvement in the economy for those that are participating. Any data that might contradict this is just not available.

So overall? There’s nothing in here to get excited about and arguably there’s some aspects to be suspicious about due to the dearth of information provided now. The touted ongoing user experience improvements will take a while, even after being implemented, to affect these numbers. That said, pessimism would probably be an overreaction to these figures, assuming the non-released data is as stable.

Australians in Second Life Update – small gains locally, declines overall

The Linden Lab metrics up until end of November 2008 have been released, showing a jump in total number of Australian user hours to 747,158.40 (2.04% of total), up from 686,872.48 in September although a small drop to 2.04% of worldwide user hours. Not that number of hours means a whole lot without knowing the number of users creating those hours.

Tateru Nino as always summarises the stats nicely, and the news is far from good. The Second Life economy isn’t declining anywhere near as much as the real-world ones are, but it’s declining all the same.

The Second Life economy: calm before the storm?

Linden Lab today released the Second Life economy statistics of the third quarter of 2008 and it shows some healthy growth in some areas:

  • hours spent by users in Second Life passed the 100 million mark
  • the total land mass continued to grow significantly to just under 2 billion square meters
  • the monetary value of user-to-user transactions in-world hit 102 million US dollars – identical to Q2 2007, the last period before the gambling ban which saw a large drop
  • There continues to be a decline in premium subscriptions althugh no specific data is given. Linden Lab claim this isn’t of great concern to them:

    ..a decline in premium subscriptions does not mean we have a reduction in the number of land owners. Therefore it should not be used as a measure of the health of the land market, of the Second Life economy or the health of Linden Lab. We are currently in the process of evaluating ways to make premium subscriptions more valuable to Residents and less dependent on Linden dollar stipends.

    If it’s of no concern, I don’t understand why the same graphing prowess couldn’t have been applied as it is to the other measures. At the very least it’s a rough measure of Second Life mainland health.

    The results overall are very positive but Linden Lab themselves admit the Openspaces issue will impact the next quarter’s performance. Add to that the real-world economic climate and we may see a very different picture come January 2009.

    World of Warcraft demographics: no big surprises

    Over at GamerDNA they’ve crunched some numbers on some key demographics of World of Warcraft players – the sample group are GamerDNA members combined with Armory data, so the sample is representative to say the least.

    The results aren’t surprising but still interesting. The key points:

    1. There remains a preference to sign up an Alliance character than a Horde one, particularly if the player is female.

    2. The Hunter class is the most popular across both factions.

    3. Men tend toward the more ‘manly’ classes such as Warrior.

    As Sanya Weathers, the data cruncher says:

    The most popular class, the Hunter, is slightly preferred by female players by the same margin in both factions. Same for Mages. Priests skew heavily female in both factions, again by roughly the same margin. Rogues and Paladins have the same stair step proportion across the factions, but with men outnumbering women. More men play Warriors than women across the board, but the difference is more pronounced on the Horde side thanks to the whole “women don’t do Orcs” thing.

    The only flaw I can see in the gender analysis applies across all virtual worlds: there’s arguably a lot of avatars out there that are the opposite in gender to their real-world counterpart.

    Aside from the obvious interest of such stats to WoW players, there’s a much wider application. Don’t imagine that marketers, game developers and educators aren’t looking at data like this intensively. There’s a thousand PhD theses in this sort of information and a few hundred of them are likely well underway.

    If you’re a WoW player, do the statistics match your impressions?

    Australians in Second Life Update – small declines

    Linden Lab have released their metrics up until September 2008, and in the Australian context there’s been a slight drop in activity – 686,872.48 hours, which is nearly eight thousand hours less than last month. Across 10-15 thousand active users, that’s not a big drop and Australia maintains the 11th spot worldwide.


    – user hours dropped from 34.8 million to 33.2 million

    – the number of islands owned jumped from 1,610 to 1,723

    – in-world accounts with positive cashflows grew from 60,788 to 62,633

    – premium accounts (those that people pay a monthly fee for) continued their decline to 83,23, down from 84,883 last month and December 2007 highs of 93,219.

    It’s a mixed picture and I’ve had a lot of people ask me in recent weeks how the real-world economic issues is impacting Second Life. These metrics don’t point to a significant decline related to the worldwide economic downturn and I’m not seeing any erosion of confidence. That said, the worst of that downturn occurred in October from a public perception viewpoint, so next month’s metrics should make for fascinating reading.

    What are your thoughts? Are you seeing people spend less in-world? Have your spending habits changed in recent months?

    Australians in Second Life Update – murky growth

    As we mentioned yesterday, the level of detail in metrics supplied by Linden Lab has declined significantly. The last time we were able to report actual numbers of active Australian Second Life users, there’s been a bounce back to a little over twelve thousand.

    There’s no longer a country breakdown for active avatars. Instead, there’s ‘active user hours’ by country. For July 2008, Australian users clocked up 694,580.20 hours, which is 2.01% of the overall hours. This places Australia 11th in the world – the same position we’ve sat at for a long time now.

    The equivalent stats in April were 571,042.27 hours and a 1.97% share so it’s safe to assume there’s been further growth. Defining the context of that growth however, is harder than ever.

    For a worldwide view, check Tateru Nino’s analysis.

    Age demographics and virtual worlds

    Metrics gurus Kzero have released a new breakdown of the age variances by type of virtual world frequented.

    There’s no big surprises but the figures do further emphasise the power of the pre-teen and teen market for social virtual worlds.

    Thanks to Pavig Lok for the heads-up.

    One billion in virtual worlds by 2017

    That’s the claim by Strategy Analytics, an international strategic and consulting services firm.

    Of course, registrations don’t mean too much, it’s the active users that do. That said, if ten percent of those billion end up active it’s still a large market. Add to that the likelihood of greater activity by registration as usability improves and we’re talking large numbers indeed.

    Thanks to Massively for the heads-up.

    K-Zero: more than 300 million registered for virtual worlds

    K-Zero are a company that follow metrics in virtual worlds and last week they released their updated chart showing the number of registrations by platform over time.

    Note that gaming worlds like World of Warcraft (with more than ten million active users) aren’t even part of the 300+ million, which just further illustrates the growing depth of the virtual world population. Of course, an even more interesting measurement would be how many of those people remain active.

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