Grids reach new peak with moderate growth

The top 40 OpenSim grids now have a total of 18,498 regions — up by 1,539 regions from a month ago. Meanwhile, total registered users grew by almost 12,000 to 206,098.

Total regions on top 40 OpenSim grids.

Avination, InWorldz lose ground

Both of the top commercial grids — Avination and InWorldz — lost regions over the past month.

Avination is now the large commercial social grid with 868 regions, down 86 regions from July. InWorldz is close behind with 842 regions, down by 133.

Avination was the most popular grid with users, with 5,956 unique visitors last 30 days. OSGrid was second, with 3,316 active users. InWorldz does not release active user counts.

AlphaTowne and Your Alternate Life were the only two other grids that reported more than 1,000 active users this past month, but those numbers may be mistaken since these grids reported 1,596 and 3,112 total registered users, respectively. On average, grids have ten to 15 times as many registered users as active users.

InWorldz, Avination both lose regions.

Kitely, an on-demand grid, gained 145 regions for a new total of 1,050.

The biggest surprise this month is the German-language science fiction-themed grid, The Other Universe, which took over NexXtLife. At 751 regions, The Other Universe is now the sixth-largest grid, right after InWorldz, in its first appearance on our top 40 list.

We’re also tracking several other new grids, including New Genres Grid, slitalia, Avatar Realms and Infinite Grid. The last one, at 97 regions, made our top-40 list this week.

Elsewhere on the hypergrid

There is currently no central system for tracking OpenSim grids. The OpenSimulator.org website does not track downloads, and grid owners don’t have to register their grids with anyone — unlike websites, where owners have to apply for domain names. The OpenSimulator grid list is out of date and incomplete.

If there’s a public grid we’re not tracking, please email us at [email protected].

In addition, a single download of the server software can be used to set up several grids, or can be used to set up no grids at all.

However, there are statistics for one popular version of OpenSim, the Diva Distro, a four-region, hypergrid-enabled, pre-configured minigrid.

The Diva Distro has been downloaded 488 times over the past month, another record high. The total number of Diva Distro downloads now stands at 7,452.

Diva Distro is also part of the popular Sim-on-a-Stick, a version of OpenSim packaged to run on a USB stick. According to Sim-on-a-Stick creator Ener Hax, the USB-friendly OpenSim package has been downloaded 745 times over the past month — bringing the total of these downloads to more than 2,956.

Meanwhile, according to data from The Hypergates, there are now 546 active hypergates on 45 different grids, an increase of 12 gates over the previous month.

In addition, the number of people using the gates has grown, though not the number of hypergrid jumps. There were 4,735 hypergrid jumps made during the past four weeks, a decrease of 1,081 over the previous month. And the number of hypergrid travelers increased as well, by 160 travelers, to 3,077, compared to the previous month.

Not all hypergates are part of The Hypergates network — anyone can create their own hypergrid by dropping a script on any object, such as our touch or walk-through single-destination hypergate script. In addition, many people do hypergrid jumps without using any gate at all, simply by typing a hypergrid address into Map-Search. There is currently no way of tracking that traffic.

Second Life shrinks

Meanwhile, Second Life continued to lose regions this month, down 96 regions to 31,142, and down 431 regions since August 2010, according to data from Grid Survey.

According to Second Life’s official second quarter economics report, the number of new daily user registrations is now around 16,000. However, total hours spent in-world fell from 104 million in the first quarter to 103 million in the second quarter — and this was down substantially from 116 million in the first quarter of 2010.

The average number of economic participants is also down, with 464 thousand in the second quarter, down from 466 thousand last quarter, and 496 thousands in the first quarter of 2010.

August Region Counts on the Top 40 Grids

We are now tracking a total of 170 different publicly-accessible grids, 87 of which reported their region counts this month.

The raw data for this month’s report is here.

 

 Anastasia Trombly contributed to this report.

maria@hypergridbusiness.com'

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.

  • sargemisfit

    Its good to see the steady growth. It looks to be almost quadrupling over the past two years. Just wondering, do these stats include AuroraSim based grids? If not, do you plan on tracking them at some point?

  • Sarge —

    Nova Grid and AnSky Grid are both based on AuroraSim. I don't know of any other public grids running on AuroraSim — do you know of any?

    Every month we're finding more grids — some of which have been around for a while. Makes me wonder how many other big grids there are out there that we don't know about.

    — Maria

    • sargemisfit

      Nova runs OS as well, I believe. And Aurora has their own grid which people can connect to or just visit, though they use it for their development, so think of it as their Beta grid. I admit that I could be wrong about those, though. I don't know of any others running Aurora, though that is more due to lack of time to go exploring. I do plan on opening mine to the public, and it looks like I'll be going Aurora. But that won't be until end of October, I hope. I'll be sure to email when it is.

  • Of course, Aurora Sim presents a problem for region counts since Nova grid, for example, has var-regions which count as a single region but actually can be up to 256 regions in size. Aurora is throwing out all the metrics we gage the open Metaverse by so I think it has to be looked at a different way and perhaps in terms of land area rather than by region count. And var-regions should not be see as some form of mega-region either. In Fact ot gets worse, now there are infinite regions! which basically means there are no borders at all on such regions. It like you can build within a defind var-region but if set to infinite you can travel across the empty space between regions that are seperated and arrive a new location. You can leave of course once there. It is one-way unless that region too is set to infinite. Aurora is really something else!

  • Gaga — Are you saying that if, say, you have ten islands — each set to infinite regions — and space them far apart — then you can fly or sail through the empty space between them if they are set to "infinite"?

    Is the empty space water, or can you have terrains there?

    — Maria

  • And here's a nice link from Sarge Misfit, showing a decline in Second Life concurrency:
    http://gridsurvey.com/charts/historicalconcurrenc

  • sargemisfit

    Gaga_Gracious is correct about variable regions and their effect on the metrics. I've got only one region, but it is 1024×1024, which would be 16 regions of default dimensions. So, if and when it goes public, will it count as a one region grid or a 16 region grid? I will be letting others connect, too, so how will they be counted? Especially is they choose different dimensions.

    @Gaga, I posted a couple of new pics today. The starport is complete, next, the town.

  • Yes Maria, exactly that – provided each Island is set to infinite. If any one island is not set to infinite then you can still sail from one that is but once within the borders of the none-ifninite region you can't leave. I'm not sure if you can block entry from infinite regions so I will have ask Revolution Smythe about that or test it on my standalone grid.

    All this is in the current weekly 0.4.2 which can be downloaded from Aurora sim but remember weeklies are not all stable. The stable release is 0.4.0. Nova grid is running 0.4.2 I do believe but Rico is charging about $90 a month for them. There is an awful lot of changes coming to Aurora Sim so astral spaces with asteroid-like worlds will be possible within seperate islands back accessable across infinite space where you can travel but not build. You can still only build within the set bounderis of each island be they large var-regions or standard 65k areas. The beuaty of this is that a spaceship full of avatars could cross the none-existent bounderies which I know will please Sarge, since he has asked about that in the past.

    So there you go Sarge *laughs* Your wish looks like it is coming true!

    Hey Sarge I will check those picts out, thanks for letting me know.

    I am currently writing an Update article for Aurora which will cover infinite regions. So one to watch out for. Oh, and BTW, Rev has honoured me by inviting me to join the team handling news and blog items on the Aurora web site.

    Gaga

  • sargemisfit

    *laughs*

    and an Oh Noes! I'm picturing having to do a complete rebuild to be orbital! Hmmmm …. maybe convert to a platform structure …. enclose in a dome to retain 'atmosphere' …. airlocks, can't forget airlocks …. where did I put that hammer ….

    (apologies to Maria for the minor hijack here)

  • thanks Maria for the great stats as well as your insight to the reasons for growth, shrinkage (cold water usually), and this interesting change that Aurora Sim introduces!

    i am tempted to follow Sarge's instructions to create an Aurora Sim on a stick!

    • sargemisfit

      Go for it!

      Having both available will give the rest of us gridlings a choice. Besides, I still haven't figured out how to set up a WebUI for it: 😀

  • hey, for Enclave Harbour, we might only have one active user (everyone else is a lump – except Micheil who works on OpenSim patches) but when i get manic i might be as spastic as 1000 users *think nervous tasmanian devil*

    so multiply our number by the new scientifically derived constant (and patented too) of K = 1000

    =)

  • Daniel Voyager

    Interesting stats. Thank you! 🙂

  • "InWorldz is close behind with 842 regions, down by 133. Avination was the most popular grid with users, with 5,956 unique visitors last 30 days. OSGrid was second, with 3,316 active users. InWorldz does not release active user counts. We are now tracking a total of 170 different publicly-accessible grids, 87 of which reported their region counts this month."

    I enjoy this blog and the research that goes into it. However as I and others have stated in the past, posting raw "facts" doesn't always tell the true story.

    For example, the statement that Inworldz is down by 133 sims isn't exactly accurate. Some 80 of those sims were grid-sponsored test sims during the development of Phlox. However, since I myself had erred by unknowingly including those sims in my posts regarding Inworldz total sim count… I think that oversight can be forgiven. In truth while Inworldz has lost some sims, that number is realistically 53 rather than 133.

    Why? I think the decline in regions almost across the board can be largely attributed to the RL financial situation. We just went through an 11th-hour (and 59 minutes) near-financial-disaster situation in the U.S. that caused enough concern to significantly impact the stock market. Other world markets were affected as well, not only by the status of this country but their own and neighboring countries. Despite the last-minute agreement of the U.S. government, we're still not out of the woods there. It is estimated that currently between 15 and 20% of our population is out of work. Such economic impact cannot help but influence the use of disposable cash (if there even *is* disposable cash)… and would greatly impact entertainment venues such as the VR worlds. It's not a sign of health / decline of the VR worlds themselves, but of our world entire.

    I believe Inworldz doesn't release "active user counts" because they realize– as I do– that such figures are largely irrelevant– bogus "bragging figures" that have nothing to do with the health or growth of the grid. Such figures can be easily fudged and have little actual relevance in regard to grid operation (what is an "active user" anyway… someone who logs on for 10 minutes once a month?). The true measure of a grid is currently, and always has been, user-subscribed sim count (ie, revenue-generating sims)… which I believe is at this time the only valid and consistent measurement of grid status and growth / decline. To my knowledge, no grid at this time provides that specific value; they all appear to throw in grid-owned sims along with user-subscribed sims. Registered users (whether they're active or not), concurrency (which can consist of bots and simu-logged alts), or "active user count" are imo all widely variable and relatively irrelevant numbers. If there were a way to separate bot / alt count from actual unique logins… then resultant user hours would be a viable and valid figure. But I know of no one who goes to that length of analysis, much less publish such figures.

    I'm not sure I believe listing raw region count as a sign of growth is all that valid either. Some grids sell "full" regions, others promote the equivalent of "homestead" regions, at 1/4 the power and price of competitive grids. Is it fair to count those "regions" as full regions… compared to significantly more powerful and expensive full regions on other grids? A grid that sells $25 "regions" with 6,000 prims cannot be evenly compared with a grid that sells $75 regions that offer 45,000 prims. Definitely a case of apples vs oranges there.

    Nevertheless, these figures give us some idea of general growth. I'm not sure how these figures could be adjusted to give a more accurate overall picture, but readers should be aware that straight numerical data doesn't always tell the whole story and can only give us a limited idea of the true growth and health of our VR worlds.

  • Wayfinder — You're absolutely right. There's no perfect system for tracking grid sizes. And it will get even more difficult as grid start offering free on-demand homestead regions.

    Personally, I think the active user count — problematic as it is — is the best measure of a grid's health. Unfortunately, there's no way to verify grid user counts, unless someone were to come out with a plugin or module similar to google analytics, or a viewer plugin like Alexa, where a third party track visitors. And even that doesn't guard against bots.

    Once we've got a few million grids, then inbound hyperlinks would be the best way to track the relative importance of grids — and we'll have link farm grids springing up, full of gates to destinations nobody wants to visit.

  • Myself, I think the best measure of growth at this time would be for all grids to separate in-house (non-paid) sims from paid-sim counts. That would give us accurate growth statistics– if we could rely on grid owners to properly and accurately report such statistics.

    I personally don't believe any kind of user statistic would prove valuable. Linden Lab has for years played the "residents" game and fudging statistics (and by recent reports… they're still at it, counting one-time visitors in their user stats). By far, most users are not paying members and thus do not impact the P&L of the grid (except of course, by generating negative resource drain). It is only the paying users that generate revenue for the company, thus the thing they pay for (ie, region count) might be considered the most valid gauge of grid growth or decline.

    Beyond region count, I don't consider any level of supposed "concurrency", "resident count" or "users" stats to be all that valid. Those figures are far too easy to fudge, as Linden Lab has amply demonstrated through the years.

  • Maria, a personal note (don't have to post this one publicly). In examining the list of grids above, I would love to see a "synopsis blog" of what all the grids are and their main features (ie, are they pure OpenSim, proprietary, free or fee-based, etc). It would be very interesting to see a one-paragraph synopsis of all these sims so readers can get a good idea of what all of them are. : )

  • Wayfinder — I've done a couple of these:
    http://www.hypergridbusiness.com/2011/02/opensim-
    http://www.hypergridbusiness.com/2010/10/an-opens

    The big problem is keeping up — new grids keep showing up all the time! 🙂

  • remember too that northern hemisphere summer tends to see a seasonal decline of users (it certainly does for Second Life)

    i expect InWorldz to recoup its lost regions during the next winter =)