OpenSim grows faster than Second Life

Total regions on the public OpenSim grids increased from 5,613 in September to 7,246 in December — a growth rate of 29% for three months, or an annualized growth rate of 177%.

By comparison, resident-owned regions in Second Life reached 23,900 in December 2009, up 6% over December 2008. At this rate, OpenSim’s main grids will pass Second Life in land area by early 2011.

But this count only includes the top 40 public grids. There are also another 400 private grids listed with the Metaverse Ink search engine, and thousands of other unlisted, private grids — anyone can download the server software and run their own world. And this statistic also assumes that OpenSim growth won’t accelerate. But when you consider that OpenSim only became viable and hyperlinked in 2009, we might see total land counts pass Second Life before the end of 2010.

(Data: Hypergrid Business)

(Data: Hypergrid Business)

One major reason? The cost. Prices for a region start at zero if you’re hosting it at home, or $16 a month if you’re paying for professional hosting.

But it’s not just price. OpenSim region owners can save backups of their entire region on their local hard drive. If they want to shut down a region — or keep a historical record of how a region evolves — they can do this, and restore the region later. And owners of private grid can restrict access to the entire grid. For example, a school can restrict access to just students and teachers, or a company can restrict access just to their own employees. On the other end of the spectrum, a grid owners can also make their grid completely public, allowing users to teleport in and out from other grids. (See “How to hypergrid” for how to teleport your avatar from one grid to another.)

Related Posts'

Maria Korolov

Maria Korolov is editor and publisher of Hypergrid Business. She has been a journalist for more than twenty years and has worked for the Chicago Tribune, Reuters, and Computerworld and has reported from over a dozen countries, including Russia and China. Follow me on Twitter @MariaKorolov.

11 Responses

  1.' daleos says:

    I can see where the appeal for OpenSim is if you are a creator who creates for their own benefit or a company/college/community wanting a little private world to play around in but OpenSim lacks a few very important things for me and maybe a large section of the 'average' SL users.

    I like to dabble with creating things myself but whilst I don't have the inclination to sell my creations, I do like as many people as possible to see them. SL with it's universal login system means that it's easy to get people to see my stuff.

    For the same reason OpenSim also a little isolating. It's quite an effort to find decent communities and social interaction with strangers is nowhere near as easy as with SL.

    However, the biggest problem with OpenSim for me though is it's lack of DRM controls between grids and lack of a universal micropayment system. I'm not skilled enough to build everything myself. I'm very happy to buy from someone else that can create something better than I could manage myself if it means saving me a lot of time and effort over some little details.

    Finally, thruth be told, whilst I hate shopping in RL, shopping in SL is actually an entertainment in it's own right.

  2. Owning and managing an Opensim region myself since more than 2 years, I find this kind of comparison a bit bizarre.

    When you say "Opensim grows" or "Second Life grows" in the title of your blog post – or in a Tweet – you're supposed to be actually talking about the whole ecosystem. Otherwise I'd expect you mentioned the specific aspect you're talking about (in this case, land size).

    But personally I find it's misleading to suggest readers that the whole Opensim ecosystem is really growing as the same pace of the land growth. I don't think this is happening.

    It's easy to bring lots of regions online using Opensim, since that's so cheap if compared to Second Life. But then, how many people actively use it? What is the value of the services provided inside them?

    I hope I'm too pessimist – I'd really love if Opensim would pass Second Life in such a short time span. But I don't see that happening soon.

  3. The reason we're tracking regions here rather than users is that there's a constraint on region sizes — computer resources. These cost money (not as much money as in Second Life, but still, it's an expense).

    Yes, Intel did just get 1,024 regions on one simulator (messing up our region count total for the month!) but for the most part, putting up new regions is not a trivial task, and neither is keeping them up and running for months.

    Meanwhile, user counts are very problematic. Do you go by Hippo downloads? But there are also Meerkat and Imprudence folks, and those who are using the Second Life client to access OpenSim worlds. Do you go by registered user counts? Users are free to add — this is prone to manipulation. In addition, a single person might be registered on multiple grids.

    Right now, there's not much motivation for individual grid operators to rig their user counts. If we were to start tracking them, and ranking grids by users, we would probably start seeing gaming of the system. It doesn't cost anything to add a user — or a thousand users. Or even to have them log in a few times a week.

    If anyone can suggest a way to track total OpenSim users, I'm all ears.

    Meanwhile, as far as your general growth question — yes, OpenSim is currently dominated by folks who are looking to create content for small, dedicated groups. Schools setting up classrooms. Machinimators filming movies. Architects showing off potential houses to clients. Artists creating virtual spaces. Role playing groups looking for a private and inexpensive place to do their thing. Scientists doing research.

    Not a great deal of retail-focused building going on. After the technology stabilizes, and we get a decent Web-based viewer and search engine, I think this situation will change dramatically, and very quickly.

    If we never get a Web-viewer, though, there are still a couple of ways that OpenSim might go big. One is with virtual museums and other public-oriented spaces. There are no age restrictions in OpenSim, and land is cheap — a perfect combo for a museum or other non-profit. They can put up their builds, and allow folks to come in and wander around. People will come for a museum, check out the virtual museum shop (payment by credit card, with real-world delivery), and wander around and check out what else is there.

    The other route is with private gaming clubs. Creating a game like WoW costs millions. Get your friends together, each hosting a couple of regions, and you've got your own private world for role-playing games. We're already seeing this starting with (formerly Gor Life).

    Oh, and I forgot sex and gambling. People love virtual sex and gambling. I'm surprised we're not seeing more sin grids popping up!

    Basically, the same stuff that drove people to the early Internet — info-packed websites run by various group as a public service, games, and sex.

    — Maria

  4.' Daniel says:

    OpenSim developers are the ones that are showing true technical leadership in this space. They are implementing a lot of things that Linden Labs has been lazy / complacent to address. OpenSim will truely be the Apache server in this space. What they need is a much better marketing and public facing story, as well as a much more streamlined installation process.

  5.' Kai Ludwig says:

    Some people at the University of Darmstadt used archeologial survey methods in early 2008 to analyze Second Life in a scientific way, see… for a reference (sorry, mostly german, but still a reference).

    This method is very time consuming and hast to be performed manually in the same way archeologists do in RL. Therefore it can't be used for repeated daily analysis of grids. But it's methods can be used to create an automatic survey system that regularly scans Second Life and known OpenSimulator Grids to spit out some data that has scientific value.

    Unless someone builds that tool just relying statistics on a combination of landmass, user count and user activity is acurate enough to check if Second Life is growing or not and if OpenSimulator is growing faster than Second Life or not.

    If anyone wants to sponsor me in developying those survey tools it would be glad to help. Just drop me an email at [email protected] please.

    And someone else already did great statistics that can be found here:

    As you can see the "Median user concurrency for the last 365 days" is going down, by aprox. 10k over 2009.

    The "User-to-user transactions for the last 365 days" and Recent Residents (Logged in last 60 days)" have in aproximation not been changing over 2009, that is also no growth.

    For sure that are just some more statistics only, but one can clearly see that Second Life is not growing at the enomous rates that Linden Lab tries to tell us. It seems to be slowly decreasing or at least beeing just stable.



  6.' Ener Hax says:

    woohoo! we have 4 private sims with reaction grid but they are not connected, so it sounds like we would not have been counted. but we will connect soon!

    the price is a factor, as you pointed out, but it was not what spurred us into RG. a combination of Linden Lab actually stifling us (by being recalcitrant on book authoring, ending the Mentor programme, implementing the Adult policy, and the XStreetSL changes) and the way they treated Jokay is what made us realize that a viable alternative was out there

    plus, OpenSim just runs better for us. bigger prims, more prims, faster script execution, more scripting language options. reaction grid specifically attracted us for its education and business focus

    i imagine that our story will be repeated in that you have someone with sims in second life that moves over to OpenSim and then shuts down their sl sims

    interesting numbers that i will blog about today! thank you =)

  1. January 25, 2010

    […] grows Faster than #secondlife: private and public grids, the beggining of the real metaverse? units, limited skin freebie #secondlife #sl #skin […]

    [WORDPRESS HASHCASH] The comment’s actual post text did not contain your blog url ( and so is spam.

  2. January 25, 2010

    […] The top 40 OpenSim grids gained approximately 500 regions this month, maintaining the growth rate set in the last quarter of 2009. […]

  3. January 25, 2010

    […] at Hypergrid Business published a post about growth and we are quoting her numbers […]

    [WORDPRESS HASHCASH] The comment’s server IP ( doesn’t match the comment’s URL host IP ( and so is spam.

  4. January 30, 2010

    […] OpenSim grows faster than Second Life – 23rd […]

    [WORDPRESS HASHCASH] The comment’s server IP ( doesn’t match the comment’s URL host IP ( and so is spam.

  5. May 24, 2010

    […] hypergrid, this may be the main factor in OpenSim overtaking Second Life ™ in 2010-11. Being an open metaverse, there is obviously much opportunity for […]

    [WORDPRESS HASHCASH] The comment’s server IP ( doesn’t match the comment’s URL host IP ( and so is spam.