Grids gain 915 regions; InWorldz is busiest

The top 40 OpenSim grids gained 915 new regions since this time last month, bringing the total number of regions on these grids to 21,595, a new record high.

OSGrid was the single biggest gainer. The non-profit grid, which allows users to connect regions running on home computers at no cost, gained 955 new regions, taking it past the 10,000 region mark, at 10,009 regions. It is the single largest public grid running on the OpenSim software.

The next biggest gain was Kitely, a cloud-based grid, with 83 new regions, bringing it to a new total of 1,410 regions, making it the largest commercial grid running OpenSim. Currently in beta, Kitely does not charge its users, and has just postponed the rollout of its billing system again, to the beginning of 2012.

The French-language FrancoGrid gained 72 regions, for a new high of 462 regions.

Growth in regions on top 40 OpenSim grids.

A few grids also lost regions. Nova, the largest grid running on the Aurora-Sim branch of OpenSim, lost 80 regions this month, for a new total of 66 regions. Craft World, an European grid with many Italian users, lost 52 regions, for a new total of 140 regions.

Avination, one of the largest commercial grids, lost 40 regions for a new total of 629. Avination briefly soared to the top of the charts last winter, but has since been losing ground to its chief competitor, InWorldz. Both Avination and InWorldz are closed commercial grids, with full regions starting at roughly $60 a month. Both have measures in place to protect content creators, such as limiting region exports (OAR files) and inventory exports (IAR files).

InWorldz maintains land base as Avination continues to slide.

In other bad news for Avination, respondents to the latest Hypergrid Business grid survey ranked it lowest overall of all the major grids. It even scored lower than private grids — which include not only school and company grids but mini-grids run on personal computers and even USB sticks. Avination also scored low on support — just above OSGrid and private grids, technology — only above private grids, and on community, with only Kitely and private grids scoring lower.

Kitely’s cloud-based infrastructure has made it difficult for communities to form on that grid, but the company has recently been adding more social features and plans to roll out more next year that will make Kitely look and feel more like a regular OpenSim grid. For example, Kitely users can not currently walk or fly from one region to its neighbor — they must return to the Kitely website and load up their new destination there.

Most surprisingly for a commercial grid, Avination scored lowest overall for content — lower than Kitely, private grids, and the non-profit OSGrid.

However, it should be noted that Avination scores are only low in comparison to other grids, not low in the absolute sense — the average response for all these questions was somewhere between “very good” and “excellent.”

The top scorer overall and in most other categories was Island Oasis, which isn’t even big enough to make our top-40 list. It currently has 43 regions and 1,012 registered users. Its residents had to write in its name in the ballot, but those that did were unanimous in their praise. However, its sample size was also much smaller — nine respondents called it their home grid — and only time will tell whether the grid will be able to maintain this level of customer satisfaction as it grows.

Grid health

Raw region counts are not the best indicator of a grid’s health. And some grids, like ScienceSim or Virtual Worlds Grid, roll out large numbers of regions for testing purposes without much activity on those regions. Better indicators are active user counts and growth in active user numbers. However, not all grids release those statistics.

InWorldz does not normally publish these numbers, but last week one of its founders said that the grid currently has around 4,500 active monthly users. That makes InWorldz the most social of the OpenSim grids, with OSGrid in second place at 3,510 active users, and Avination in third place at 3,412 active users.

Your Alternative Life claims to have 2,617 active users, but given that actives are typically around 10 percent of all registered users, and the grid only has 3,378 registered users — and only 21 regions — the grid is probably calculating its actives count differently than other grids.

No other grid reported more than 500 active users this month. Of the mid-sized grids, 3rd Rock Grid reported 428 active users, ReactionGrid reported 410 active users, German Grid reported 292 active users, and The Other Universe reported 252 active users.

All other grids had less than 200 active users each.

However, even if a grid has only 20 active users, if those 20 people are your best friends, then that grid would be a good fit for you. In addition, most smaller grids are hypergrid-enabled, allowing their users to participate in community events on other small grids, and on many big public grids as well, including OSGrid, GermanGrid, and FrancoGrid.

In other grid news

Annuna Grid is down while it is rebranding as MetaVentura and moving to larger servers.

AnSky grid has finished its latest transition, and increased it size from 9 to 80 regions in the process.

AvWorlds is still down while switching hosting companies.

We are tracking two new grids this month, Icarus Realms and the Czech S-Grid.

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.

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.

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

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 805  times over the past month. The total number of Diva Distro downloads now stands at 9,928.

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 575 times over the past month, a record high, bringing the total of these downloads to more than 5,700.

Meanwhile, according to data from The Hypergates, the number of hypergrid travelers increased by 148 travelers, to 3,684, compared to the previous month. And the total jumps made has grown by 191, to 3,289 jumps made since mid November.

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.

Meanwhile, Second Life lost 155 regions this past month, according to data from Grid Survey. Second Life now has a total of 31,254 regions, a decline, of 631 regions from this time last year.

December Region Counts on the Top 40 Grids

We are now tracking a total of 181 different publicly-accessible grids, 85 of which were active this month. SpotOn3D, OpenLifeGrid and Curiosity Grid did not release their numbers this month.

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

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.

  • http://twitter.com/iliveisl Ener Hax

    great article and thank you for collecting, analyzing, and sharing your findings. OpenSim matures and its growth seems steady and deliberate. pretty neat to think about the 15k+ downloads of Diva’s work – lots of people are exploring OpenSim!

    • http://www.hypergridbusiness.com Maria Korolov

      Thanks, Ener! As I wrote recently, I think all the pieces are there for a really easy-to-use grid. Once someone puts it together — and it could be Kitely, it could be SpotON3D (I know, I know…) or it could be someone else coming in out of left field — I think OpenSim will start to grow at an accelerated pace. Instead of in a straight line, as it’s doing now.

      Or, at least, the top grids will. Who knows what the growth rate is of private OpenSim grids?

  • http://westernprairie.net WesternPrairie

    “Most surprisingly for a commercial grid, Avination scored lowest overall
    for content”

    Not really, it would only take a couple dozen malcontents from a competing grid’s “clique” who openly dislike Avination and it’s owners- to fill out all negative surveys anonymously to bring the numbers crashing down for the grid, especially if they can fill out several surveys using different email addresses each.
    My personal experience with Avination was always 100% positive, I’d still be there with 3 regions today if the alternative grid and running my 6 regions from home  for free was not an option.
    My regions in Avination always ran top speed 53+ FPS, no problems,  instantly placed upon payment, no $75 setup charge, and lower cost, but unfortunately even the $40/mo special price for the 1st 3 months can’t compete with FREE, and as a non-profit educational entity I can’t justify even $40/mo per region X 3 regions.
    OSGrid is a great place to connect  regions to, with a very helpful friendly community whose focus (unlike the closed grids)- is on helping others and having fun, it’s  NOT maximizing profits and how much they can SELL things for!

     But of course running OS from home has a large learning curve, and not everyone has the skills, know-how, desire or ISP/bandwidth to run OS from a home based connection.
    In that case they can usually rent an entire OS region for as little as $10 to $30 mo with full rights.

    Most people are very surprised to learn just how little it takes resources wise to run a region- most any newer computer with at least 1/2 GB of ram will do it, I even ran 10 regions on an old Dell GX520 with 2 GB of ram. Now I use a Dell Work Station dual core with  8 GB of ram. I have 2 instances of OS and 2 mySQL databases for 6 regions that are up 24/7, with 4 others just “parked” in the database that can be brought up in about 5 minutes.

    You have to love how people are so freely open about giving help and advice, giving free copies of things they have, scripts, textures and all the rest.
    The other best thing is you can back up your entire regions and inventory, so all of your hard work and things you love can be SAVED to your own hard drive- unlike SL and the other walled gardens where you cant!

    Anyone who is considering running OS on their computer can always jump into OSgrid and ask for help- there’s always people around happy and willing to troubleshoot, some even to the extent of teamviewing with you to track down a persistant problem in your setup/connection/firewall/router.

    • http://www.hypergridbusiness.com Maria Korolov

      Western Prairie –

      I did screen out some responses but, for the most part, Avination users were very happy with their grid, as were most of the other grids’ respondents. After all, they wouldn’t stay on that grid otherwise. The results were just a little more over to the “very good” side instead of the “excellent” side. 

      There were no sustained campaigns to flood the survey with low marks for any particular grid, and those folks who had negative experiences also wrote comments — often very detailed — about what in particular they had problems with.

      However, Avinations comparatively low scores are in line with the results of falling region counts and active user numbers. Any of one of those things in isolation can be a statistical anomaly. All three together are a sign that something’s going on.

      • http://westernprairie.net WesternPrairie

        Very good that you weeded out some responses.
        Both Avination and IW have lost a substantial number of regions- they were both around 1,200 or more not long ago. In a matter of months a loss of some 1/3 of their regions  I feel means people are mostly cutting back on  unnecessary expenses, and/or they got bored with it all and quit.

        Of course the economy stinks, and a luxury item such as a $75 virtual region is the first thing to go when someone’s hours or  paycheck are cut back, they lose their job or think they might.

        Personally I think the rotten economy and 9 million out of work long term along with the mortgage meltdown are more to blame for region losses than any overall dissatisfactions.

        Considering SL doesn’t run much better ( I get serious lag every time I log in there no matter what region I go to)  and  a region costs the equiv of a new car payment $295 a month, I don’t see people leaving a $60 or $75 region and going to SL, buying a $1000 new or maybe $500 used region, and paying $295/mo tier because they are unhappy with performance, customer service, or whatever on a small grid where a region is $40, $60 or $75

        Most ppl who can afford $295/mo for a region are going to be  more of the business/profit motive angle of things than just Joe or Jane wanting  play with decorating prims on virtual land for fun.

        • Wayfinder Wishbringer

          Greetings WesternPrairie.  Enjoyed your posts.  As a matter of accurate record however, regarding the comment:

          “Very good that you weeded out some responses.Both Avination and IW have lost a substantial number of regions- they were both around 1,200 or more not long ago.”

          In truth, the most regions I recall Inworldz having was around 925 or so.  That was when they were doing major testing on their new Phlox scripting engine, and they had publicly announced they had set up dozens of new regions to do so.  When that test was complete and Phlox installed grid-wide, they removed those testing regions, resulting in the current levels.  As of this moment there are 848 Inworldz regions… which is in actuality growth, not decline, as the second statistical chart above indicates.  Agreed the growth is minimal, but it is by no means “a loss of some 1/3 of their regions”. 

          Regarding Avination, that same chart seems to indicate you are correct, but I cannot state for a certainty as I have been too busy lately to follow the status of that grid.  But I think Maria’s reply above can be viewed as fairly reliable.  I have to agree; from outward appearances and stats, it seems that “something is going on” with that grid.  I don’t know what it is and I hope they pull out of the dive, as I view all OpenSim-based grids to be valuable (well, most of them anyway).

          It might be pointed out that a $75 sim is not necessarily a “luxury item”.  There are merchants on Inworldz that consider that $75 to be a sound investment.  There are groups that divide that fee among their users (either via contributions, land splits or rent) that consider that a sound investment.  While I laud and applaud OSgrid’s “free” status, it has to be realized it is not for everyone (as the popularity of Inworldz and other fee-paid grids prove on a daily basis). 

          How far would the Internet have gotten if no profit could be earned?  Do you think we’d be able to stream thousands of videos legally if Netflix, Hulu and the major TV networks couldn’t make a profit?  OSgrid is terrific for some things, but like all solutions, it is not THE solution.  Some people need free, open, non-profit and non-merchantile sims and grids.  Others want a more organized, secure, moderated, safe and profitable environment. 

          The good news is there’s room for all, and that’s the wonderful thing about OpenSim software.  Some have taken it and created free grids.  Others have used it as a launchpad to create profitable businesses… and thereby enabled others to use Virtual Reality to earn a living.  VR is a widely-diverse environment.  Linden Lab started the concept with a reasonably-usable design (perhaps not the best, but at least recognizable among the current grids).  Others have taken that start in differing directions. 

          You are surely correct that it is unlikely that someone would start on one of the smaller grids and decide to move to LL’s ridiculous $295 a month sims.  That is the beauty and power of OpenSim grids.  Now they might move from SL to Inworldz or Reaction Grid.  They might move from a paid-fee grid to free OSgrid.   The good news is that with OpenSim, they can pretty much do what they decide to do.  Our group moved from Reaction Grid to Inworldz, no problem.  Some moved from Inworldz to Avination, or to OSgrid… or from OSgrid to Inworldz or Avination as their needs changed.  They were able to do so, because unlike SL, OpenSim grids don’t believe in being “copyright Nazi’s”. 

          I surely agree with you that the economy has hurt every paid-sim grid, from SL to Inworldz to well, all of them.  But it’s appearing to hurt some worse than others and as Maria said, that’s likely due to simple business sense, management and policy, like any other business. 

          But as for Inworldz dropping in sim count and declining in popularlity… just wanted to mention that’s not really factual.   I can’t say for a certainty about Avination, but I would tend to agree with what Maria stated. 

          Overall however, taking all of OpenSim into consideration… it’s doing pretty well.  All of us just have to remember one thing:  when it comes to OpenSim girds, it doesn’t have to be a contest or unfriendly competition.  At this point, regardless of our OS grid affiliation, we should all running for the same goal line.)

          • Wayfinder Wishbringer

            One quick follow-up too if I may:  Inworldz founders have made it clear that one reason their current growth isn’t booming… is because they’re not ready for it to do so.  They’re intentionally not advertising, intentionally not trying to draw in the masses… yet.  They are wisely shoring up their foundation, fixing the holes in the code and making sure their system can handle massive concurrency before opening that door.  To me, that is just smart business.

            As I posted elsewhere… wait until they’re sure of their foundation and decide to start marketing– then watch what happens. I think we’ll see an astounding surge… the surge Linden Lab would have seen if they’d have just been a little smarter and more long-term focused in conducting business.

            There’s no way to reliably predict the future of the market at this time.  But if I were to make a prediction, I’d foresee the decline of SL and a boom in Inworldz and OSgrid.  As for other grids– that depends on their business savvy and coding skills.  Currently Inworldz is proving their skillz in three areas:  number of sims, user base and profitability.  I see no other OS-based grid that is holding their own in all three areas.  Bragging and claims is one thing; current success and predictability is another.  I’m not holding Inworldz up above any other grid, but I will say that for any grid to claim to be “top dog”… it has to have the current stats and trendlines to prove it. Inworldz and OSgrid have those stats and trendlines… Inworldz in the paid-grid area and OSgrid in the open-grid area.

          • http://westernprairie.net WesternPrairie

            Well we’ll just have to differ on the merits of inworldz I suppose, as I had 2 regions for months that I got rid of there.

            From the Feb 15 stats article I find:

            “Avination tripled in size since mid-January, growing from 324 regions to
            925 over the past month. The number of users also grew nearly
            three-fold, from 3,083 to 11,977.
            Since mid January, Aviation had a record high 5,571 active users. This
            was the highest active user count this month of all the grids that
            publish active user counts (InWorldz does not)”

            I’d say tripling in size in a month was pretty dramatic.
            The chart from Sept comparing the two grids is crude, it appears IW had roughly 1,000 and avination had roughly 1,150 regions.”Avination and InWorldz both continued to lose land mass, however.
            Avination lost 80 regions since mid August, and InWorldz lost 19.”IW tonight shows 848Avination history;5-3-2011- 1,116 regions7-23-2011 – 9229-7-2011 – 81912-20-2011 – 624As for the reasons why? you only need to look at the reasons for the huge triple growth in one month- gambling became “outlawed” in SL, it appeared many of those simply migrated to Avination whereupon they began a massive keyword spamming of the search engine to the extent that no matetr WHAT you searched for you got back massive numbers of ads for casinos, gaming parlors and related.Searching for furniture? your first results were for casinos.Here is what I came up with some time ago:The downward numbers are almost certainly the result of:

            1) A HUGE earlier overgrowth the grid wasnt prepared for as hundreds of new residents joined and bought regions to open casinos.

            There were more casinos than residents it seemed, a massive overkill where there seemed to be 100 casinos for 60 people logged in concurrently.
            There was a database crash and other tech problems as a result of the massive growth which would be expected and has happened to every grid.2)The same casino people screwed up the in-world SEARCH by gaming the results by inserting a plethora of non gambling related keywords so their ads would come up in EVERY search term used, no matter if you were just searching for “furniture” or “avatars” or “clothes” you got several pages of spammy CASINO ads and landmarks, along with ads and landmarks to regions and places that no longer existed.

            3) A LOT of people got fed up with search being made useless by that and they bitterly and publicly complained and demanded this be addressed as a TOS issue.
            As a result, the casino people saw their ads no longer spamming everyone, and traffic dropped along with their revenue.4) Casino regions were the first to be dumped as they were all put in STRICTLY for making money off of, once they stopped making money above the $60/mo tiers, they quit and left.5)Gambling on a virtual region for monopoly money ($4 USD for 1,000 in world dollars) like anything else becomes BORING very fast, the novelty wears off, and when the games are totally unregulated and run by people who can manipulate the scripts in order to change the odds and payouts to whatever they want meant that a lot of people played a few times, lost money and quit- the novelty wore off real fast.

            The other first regions to go would have been those set up by people who installed these huge MALLS and shopping centers full of stores, I might add that the majority of them were almost totally VACANT because there were far too many of them and they were too big for the number of people who would shop there.Since those regions were put in strictly to make money off of, these too were abandoned when months went by and these 100 shop mega-malls only had 4 or 5 shops renting in them.With only <100 people logged in concurrently, the number of them who would even go out shopping for things in any particular day or week is small, after all, how many clothes do you NEED for an avatar? how many houses? how many avatars do you need? how many new trees do you need for your parcel once you have trees in place?Many purchases are a one-time thing, people dont generally go out and buy new houses every week, or packs of 10 trees every day, so the retail traffic would spike and then naturally DROP as a result. The store's new sales would have to come mostly from NEW residents who arrive with nothing, and they must also constantly create NEW inventory to attract buys from previous customers.As far as the $75 luxury item, I don't think out of 800 or whatever number of regions you see, that 800 regions are all there for selling, renting and stores, there's far more there because the owners want to build, design, socialize or play around.All you need to do is pick up the news and see the economy is in serious trouble, check out the CBS video on Cleveland's housing crisis- one county has 20,000 foreclosed/abandoned houses to tear down and this is how it is all across the country, and the first thing to go when someone loses their job, or thinks they might because their employer is failing- is anything other than food, housing, car.Many people are maxed out on visa cards and hanging on by a thread.Guaranteed the $295, or the $75 or the $60 virtual playground is the first thing to get cut by the individual or family who is using it for entertainment.Very few store/merchants or regions make any serious income above and beyond tier cost, you'd have to sell a hell of  a lot of  40 cent stuff every  single month just to pay $295 for a region in SL.Do people do it? certainly they do, especially the land barons with hundreds of rental regions,  but I'm guessing those who actually earn a living income off a region in SL especially- don't represent more than a single percentage point of the total region owners.

          • Wayfinder Wishbringer

            You’ll get no argument from me regarding Avination, or especially Second Life. I fully agree that $295 a month for a region is just plain goofy (European users acutally pay $350 with VAT).  Your points regarding Avination and casinos is exactly the impression I got when visiting that grid.  But as my visit consisted of all of 2 hours, I chose not to judge the grid based on my limited experience.  Since then however, others such as yourself have confirmed the validity of my experience:  Avination doesn’t quite seem to have their polcies up to “user-beneficial”.  Which is why Inworldz currently appears to be stomping them… if one chooses to put it in those terms. 

            Me, I prefer to see it as two valiant grids attempting to compete with SL, and kudos to both, regardless of current status, success, or setbacks. Same goes for the whole rest of OpenSim-based grids and regions:  GOOD FOR ALL OF YOU!

            For Linden Lab, I’ll say the same thing I’ve said for years:  wake up.  But unfortunately now I find myself adding, “Oops, too late.”

            But as far as malls and merchants and not enough people to support such, I will point out that currently Second Life has an average of about 1.5 users per sim… and they still do bang-up business.  The primary purpose of VR isn’t to sell things; it’s to provide community.  Some people become wildly successful merchants (a relatively small handful).  Others play at being merchants and have fun with the role play (as well as enjoying the occasional monetary cashout, which is always nice for buying that new graphics card).  But for the most part, virtual worlds are centered around GROUPS… and those groups are the heart and life of VR.  Consisting of hundreds or even thousands of users, those groups don’t mind pooling their funds and paying for sims… when they get added benefits for doing so. 

            So I have to say I think you under-estimate the influence and power of groups, as well as the purpose and design of most merchants.  By far, the average merchant isn’t on SL or Inworldz or other grids to make money hand over fist.  They’re in it because they enjoy playing the part of a merchant.  They enjoy creating, setting up vendors, selling their work and having customers tell them how much they enjoy their creations.  Whether they practically give their items away or sell them for L$10,000 or more… the fun is in the experience.   And if they can cash out every once in a while, more the better.  Overall, instead of paying the grid to play, they’re getting paid to play.   Myself, I think that’s a hoot. :D

            Regarding the statement that Inworldz lost 19 sims since August… to be fair, I think a measly 19 sims out of a prior 867 is an extremely small percentage. One has to look at the overall trendline to see the full story. This time of year, when people are investing in Halloween, Thanksgiving and Christmas, is typically a time when they dump sims. No major surprise there. I admit curiosity as to why you chose to leave Inworldz (and what you found more preferable elsewhere), but the truth is of all the grids I’ve seen, Inworldz appears to be the most stable overall, when one measures ALL the stats (overall population, growth factors, stability, profitability, and customer satisfaction). It’s one thing to run a free grid and increase in population. It’s another entirely to run a business and remain stable, with satisfied customers. I think Inworldz is fairly commendable… and that one might do well to re-examine the stat charts up there to get a better idea of what’s really going on in VR right now. : )

          • http://westernprairie.net WesternPrairie

            We get narrower and narrower space to type in the further down we go, so I’ll have to find a different spot to reply to your query.

  • Tryad Destiny

    Interesting article nice to see os grid up there, you have to learn this and that  but its free has pleasant people and allows anyone to build their dream

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Linda-Kellie/100002704826887 Linda Kellie

    Thanks for putting all this information together for us Maria. It’s very helpful to many people I’m sure. I took the survey this year and last year also.I don’t believe there is any way to cheat and make other grids look bad based on the way the questions were asked. There was really no way to give negative feedback. I don’t recall having any boxes to check that would say anything negative about any grid. The questions that I remember were things like “Which grid do you visit the most?” “What other grids do you visit? Very clear and to the point.I doubt very much that there was a conspiracy to get any grid to look bad. My theory is that if a grid did not get the scores they were hoping for it’s probably for the same reason that most company’s fall apart. Either bad policy, high prices, low customer service or bad product. This survey seems to be a good way for these grids/business’s to evaluate how they are doing and make changes that might help them.Also the scores that I see didn’t surprise me in the least. This is the same thing I hear on the street (so to speak). 

    • http://westernprairie.net WesternPrairie

      Linda, you forgot the survey asked for ratings…

      There was a rating of “excellent” and  “very good.” then there was “good” and “poor” as well.  So you get 15 people, each fills out the survey and checks  the “poor” rating next to the one grid they hate and want to see fail, then put a checkmark next to “excellelent” for the other grid and sends the survey in.
      15 “poor” for one grid and 15 “excellent” for another, and out of

      And let’s face facts, there’s a lot of forum posts attacking the owner of Avination on a personal level, and then the “jcool” thing that was blown all out of proportion and continued for months on one forum in a huge thread attacking avination as a grid, the owner, everything about it. There’s a large amount of dislike and outright hate going on there behind the scenes to the extent that I have absolutely no doubt in my mind there’s a bunch of people who WANT that grid to totally fail in every way, and they seem to hope in failing it that those residents will like magic migrate over to their favorite grid.

      Maria said she vetted the survey results to weed things out, but it’s simply not possible to weed out a group of people acting in concert- each would have their own unique email address for “confirmation” but as we all know, email addresses are  easy to obtain from many providers for free- google, gmail, AOL and many others.
      A more secure method  of validating would be checking IP addresses on the surveys to ensure there aren’t 10 surveys all sent in by one IP, but even that is not perfect and only weeds out multiple submissions by a single party, it doesnt weed out a concerted group effort.

      I dont think Maria said how many surveys were sent in, but 10 or 15 out of 100 or 200, or 30 or 40 out of 400 or 500  is enough to seriously affect and skew the results.
      But then again the survey is not scientific and it’s just to get an idea of where things are, as we saw with Avination- in one month’s time  a drastic change can happen up or down.

      • http://www.hypergridbusiness.com Maria Korolov

        There were 73 respondents who reviewed Avination. Of those, 31 were 5′s, 26 were 4′s, 10 were 3′s, 4 were 2′s, and 1 was 1. All the ones who submitted 2′s and 1′s were different IP addresses — and real email addresses. There was no concentrated campaign to lower the ratings for the grid. 

        There were no unusual voting patterns for any of the grids.

        If there were unusual patterns, we would have sent out confirmation emails to all the respondents involved. That’s why the survey asks for the email addresses. (We erase them afterwards.)

        We haven’t had to do that yet, but as the surveys gets bigger we will probably see some bigger attempts at manipulation. 

        • Wayfinder Wishbringer

          I’m glad you posted that Maria.  I have never really questioned the overall validity of your survey results; I figure you’re savvy enough to be able to properly analyze data and watch for the glitches… as you’ve stated above.  And yes, as the surveys get bigger there will likely be more attempts at manipulation.   I figure by that time, you’ll have installed ways to better control the survey results (which is usually done by creating the survey in a form that in itself exposes or even defeats manipulation).  One of the easiest ways to do so of course is to evaluate the survey results in both a mean and medium method and cross-referencing the results for a more accurate picture of extreme responses (ie, attempted manipulation).

          Whatever, I’m fairly comfortable with the manner you conduct your surveys.  While of course I’m not totally happy with the concept of the surveys themselves, overall I’ve found them quite a bit more balanced and less open to manipulation than most non-pro surveys I’ve seen (and even better than some supposedly professional ones).  Usually when it comes to “surveys”, I wind up shaking my head at the obvious manipulative attempts of the survey itself.  I found none of such in your recent survey, and feel you’re competent enough to discern when someone is attempting to manipulate or skew their responses.

  • Wayfinder Wishbringer

    This post is truly helpful Maria, imo quite a bit more useful than the fun-but-irrelevant survey blog (and I mean no insult in that).  The information above is raw data, which readers can put together and examine ourselves to determine how grids external to Second Life are doing.
     
    I am pleased and impressed with the initial fact that there are now some 21,595 total regions on the top 40 OpenSim-based grids.  That tells us a great deal.  While Second Life still maintains its level of approximately 31k sims, that figure remains relatively constant and stagnant (and has for 3+ years). During the same period, OpenSim grids were growing.  I checked recent stats on SL sim shutdown and growth.  They appear to be losing an average of somewhere between 150 to 200 sims a month, and then setting up new sims to replace those (quite often the loss appearing to be primarily customers and the gain appearing to be primarily Linden Lab, with projects such as Linden Realms).  While hundreds (thousands?) of sims lie built-but-unpaid (ie old sims that were closed but left in place for looks)… OpenSim-based grids are booming with new builds.

    I’m not saying SL is dying (at least, not right now).  It is obviously still fairly profitable and popular– among existing residents.  It is equally obvious that it’s not attractive to newbies, it’s overpriced, beyond the pocketbook of most people, and that LL’s reputation has damaged the company beyond belief.  OpenSim-based grids are not eating LL’s lunch… but they’re surely snacking.  I estimate Linden Lab has already lost millions of dollars in sales to other grids and private sim owners.  I have no idea how many groups have shut down sims on SL at this time (I know of one group and 8 sims… ;)… but for anyone to claime OpenSim isn’t affecting Second Life… would be severely naive in my estimation.

    There appears to be a constant balancing act in the OpenSim grids regarding number of sims vs activity.  As shown in the data above, Kitely is currently popular… but to my understanding it is also free.  We saw the same thing happen with Avination when they first set up, offering super-cheap sims (I believe they set up 800 $35-a-month sims) and gained heavy “popultion” that temporarily seemed to make it “more popular” than Inworldz, but such temporary marketing tricks don’t pan out in the long run (as the above data also demonstrates).   I love seeing groups like Kitely coming in and flexing their wings… as I enjoy watching the entire OpenSim endeavor.  But will they be able to keep up their momentum when their “customers” have a $$ tag attached to their regions?  Only time will tell.

    We note that Inworldz is 5th on the list as far as number of regions, but first on the list when it comes to number of monthly active users.  All grids outside of SL are very low on concurrency.  SL users boast their total user base and concurrency and rightly so… but fail to realize that SL had several-years head-start on OpenSim grids… and that population has been stagnant or even declining since October 2008.  In comparison, OpenSim-based grids have grown overall.  That growth has been slow, but steady. 

    So the question coming in here is a simple one:  what happens when grids such as Inworldz finally get the majority of their patching and foundation work done, get the paint slapped on the walls, the roof on the building… and are functioning pretty much on even level with Second Life… at 1/4 the price (or less)?  How is Second Life going to hold up then?  When SL residents start realizing they can dump their $295, 15k prim sims for a $75 45k prim region with the same power as SL… how long will their “community” outweigh their desire to dump ludicrously-priced virtual land?  There is no current solid answer to that… but many people believe the writing is on the wall… and that SL is going the way of AOL.

    In addition, we haven’t really seen the foodfight start between external grids.  Right now they’re all working together to compete with SL (or at the very least, offer viable alternatives).  But the “battle” between Inworldz and Avination is only the beginning.  As Inworldz becomes stronger, as OSgrid becomes more powerful, as OpenSim software itself becomes more solid (if that ever happens… sigh)… we are likely going to see one of two things happen:

    1) One single company come out on top as the “new SL”… and eat LL’s lunch… along with overcoming all the other OpenSim-based grids, or…
    2) A constant fight for dominance such as the VR field has never seen

    There is always the chance of course that LL will wise up and decide to do a 180 before external grids kick them in the slats, but I’ve seen absolutely zero evidence of such insight thus far.  The company seems to continue to have the “we’re too big to fail” complex, continues to ignore customer best-interests, continues to be profit-focused rather than service focused.  If anything, what I foresee for the future of SL is the owners soaking their customers for every dime they can get until they can’t get any more, then pulling out the golden parachutes and leaving the market to the dogfight.  That’s a reasonably sound retirement plan, but it leaves the customers holding the bag– and in the case of SL, that bag will be empty.

    The good news of this blog is that overall, OpenSim is prospering (and in using the term OpenSim, I include every single grid and privately owned region that is even remotely based on OpenSim code or that functions like SL).  This is good news because it means we’re no longer shackled by the Linden Lab iron curtain.  It is bad news because it means the initial LL experiment has failed, opting instead for as much profit as they can suck down right now.  OpenSim now takes over that dream in grids such as Inworldz, OSgrid, Reaction Grid and others. 

    Which one is “best”, which one comes out on top, whether they all decide to battle for dominance or join together in a cooperative bid to accomplish “the dream”… is currently anyone’s guess.  Personal opinions are aplenty and data is up and down all over the board, but overall for OpenSim, the word is growth.  That’s exactly the word we’re glad to hear.

    • http://www.hypergridbusiness.com Maria Korolov

      Wayfinder –

      I agree that there will be competition between grids. And grids joining together. And grids splitting up. And I look forward to covering all that.

      But most of its going to be a sidebar — like the battle between, say, Yahoo and Google or MySpace and Facebook compared to the overall growth of the Web.

      Grids will come and go but the hypergrid genie is out of the bag. The hypergrid may evolve — will almost definitely evolve — and our kids will probably look back at it the way we look back at gopher and telnet. (Well, some of us old fogies look back.) 

      But the idea of first dozens, then hundreds and now thousands of grids, all potentially accessible via hypergrid teleport (if we had a way to find them) — that is going to change the world. 

      I believe in a few years every company will have their own grid — or be considering setting one up — for internal collaboration, for meetings with customers and partners, and for marketing. 

      I believe basic, no-frills residential land will be free — but individuals will pay money to hosting companies to host their private grids, or for premium land and services. 

      I believe that some roleplaying grids and other grids with exclusive content will stay closed, but most general-purpose grids will all be hypergrid-enabled, though some may restrict certain areas behind paywalls or user accounts (the way that Facebook is on the Web, but requires folks to create user accounts to get the most use out of it). 

      I believe generic, commodity virtual goods will be free — plants, furniture, clothing, hair — but folks will pay for premium content, designers goods, for subscriptions to services, for subscriptions to games, and so on. I believe there will be an explosion of spending on virtual content, but that designers will need strong brand identities, or value-added services attached to their content to make money.

      I believe Google-style search engines will make it easier for designers to find infringing content and file take down notices (the same way that Google makes it easy for writers to find illegal copies of their work). 

      I believe that the first round of companies that will make it big — the Yahoos, Googles, Amazons, PayPals of the new metaverse are already being created. 

      I believe we’ll see an investment boom bigger than the dot-com boom. And then a crash. But despite the boom-and-crash cycles, growth will be continuous and exponential.

      I believe that faster computers, faster connections and better interfaces will make virtual environments increasingly realistic. Workplaces and schools will go largely virtual and the dynamics of life on this planet will change dramatically. 

      • Wayfinder Wishbringer

        I really enjoyed your reply… not because I agree or disagree… but because you are obviously someone who has eyes open and is watching the market, and is open to future possibilities.

        I think it’s quite possible that most or all of your predictions will come true.  I especially enjoyed your comparison with Yahoo / Google / MySpace / Facebook.  The basic lesson learned there is:  there is no one, single solution to people’s needs.  That will surely hold true for VR.

        It’s also possible that some as-of-yet-unknown giant will come in with a totally new concept and set everyone shaking in their boots.  That’s a possibility I’ve warned LL about for years– that they are not the only ones capable of coding a virtual reality world from scratch, they’re not the only ones capable of creating an in-world economy, not the only company able to design a VR interface. 

        The main problem currently with the Hypergrid is the elephant in the living room:  security.  If someone ever figures out that problem, there is little doubt everyone will climb in on the Hypergrid bandwagon.  Until that issue is settled, like everything else, Hypergird will have its uses… and areas where it can’t be used.  Only time will tell how farspread its application becomes. 

        One main detriment to the future of VR as it currently exists is that it’s not exactly mainstream.  The learning curve is high, not everyone appreciates the SL-type of VR, zillions of people would rather play Solitaire.  So how large the market for OpenSim-style software eventually pans out to be is anyone’s guess.  That’s something I’ve always wondered:  in reality, is part of Linden Lab’s overall failure due to the possibility they missed the boat from the initial concept… and simply made the product too complex and not nearly beneficial enough for the average customer?  That’s the one that can keep ya up at night. ;D

        Whatever happens, it will surely be interesting.  I think your post above is probably one of the best-thought-out and best-presented such I’ve seen in a long time.  I thoroughly enjoyed reading every bit of it.

        • http://www.hypergridbusiness.com Maria Korolov

          Wayfinder –

          I think SL had the potential to be the 3D AOL. AOL also was a one-stop-shop: shopping, forums, email, instant messaging, personals, news, games — it wanted to be everything to all people. It helped usher in the new online age. And it did this by spending millions on marketing. It covered the country with those AOL disks. And AOL was NOT easy to use. You had to have a dial-up modem! You had to install software! You had to learn how to use a mouse! And then you got a busy signal! We forget how hard it was. AOL saturated the national consciousness and forced a critical proportion of the population to go online.

          So I don’t think Second Life is too complex — just under capitalized. The Lindens could have gone out to strike deals to get it on everyone’s computer pre-installed. They could have run national ads everywhere. They could have made the subscriptions automatic and all-but-impossible to cancel. (I’m not saying they should have — I’m saying that AOL did these things.)

          Meanwhile, about hypergrid security. First of all, the hypergrid is growing fast as it is, and with every new update the security gets more robust. It supports permissions, creator names, etc…

          The hypergrid already has WAY more security than the Web did when it first started out. In fact, the Web still has pretty much no security other than SSL encryption. You can steal entire websites. You can copy all of Google, if you want. All of Yahoo — whatever you have hard drive space for. And send it to anyone you want. I doubt that the possibility of online piracy SLOWED down the growth of the Web. I’d argue the opposite — online piracy forced the media companies to finally figure out legitimate online distribute channels — like iTunes and Hulu — for digital goods. 

          I’m not supporting piracy (I’m the first to file a take-down notice if I see my content being infringed). I’m just saying it’s not a factor in slowing Internet growth and it’s not going to be a factor in slowing hypergrid growth. For every closed, commercial grid like Avination or InWorldz there will be hundreds of hypergrid-enabled small social grids, community grids, group grids, non-profit grids, educational grids, business grids, and personal grids. 

          The one security element that is missing is actually not hypergrid-related at all, but a function of the viewer — built-in SSL encryption. Right now, there are two ways to secure commerce in OpenSim — one way is to own all your own regions, and so that all communications between regions and central servers stays on your own computers. That’s what Second Life and InWorldz do. That’s why you can click on things to buy them in-world. The other option, for open grids (where outsiders can attach regions) is to send folks to a Web page for final payment confirmation. This is what most of the hypergrid-enabled, OMC-based grids currently do. That’s the equivalent of an e-commerce site taking credit card information by telephone — which, in fact, many Websites used to do back in the early days of the Internet.

           

          • Wayfinder Wishbringer

            It is apparent that like the computer field itself, VR is starting to move beyond the point of one person to keep track of.  I had no idea Hypergrid had initialized inventory security measures.  It appears that my time focusing on our group in Inworldz (along with leaving SL and trying to transfer numerous builds from that platform) has left me little time to keep up with all the other concepts.  Sigh.  The problem is… if I’m in that position (and typically I’ve been very well informed in the SL/VR field)… imagine what the average, typical user is facing. Talk about information overload…

            Regarding the concept of Second Life being under-capitalized, that’s a point I can’t accept.  A few months ago I did an unofficial profit analysis on Second Life (based on operational costs of typical computer server companies)… and came to the conclusion they’re pulling down a gross profit of some $5 million a month… at the least.  So what we have as a result is not a company that is undercapitalized, but rather a company that is just too greedy to unball its fist and pull it from the peanut jar.  (No big surprise there).  But there is another possibility:

            I believe the reason they haven’t widely advertised and marketed SL isn’t due to lack of funds, but for the very same reason Inworldz doesn’t do so:  they know they can’t handle the population increase. SL servers are already stressed to the max.  Lag is horrid.  Inventory access (especially textures) is slow and cumbersome.  The apparent reality is that they can reasonably handle about 30,000 sims… but not much more.  Any more, and their infrastructure could collapse… something of which I’m sure they’re well aware and avoid at all costs.

            It makes sense in a twisted sort of way.  What would they do when they realized they were at their population breaking point? Intentionally tick off  existing customers and make sure they don’t have a surge of more.  They then at least preserve their $5 mil a month profit, which I’m sure is pleasing to their investors.

            So why don’t they do what Inworldz is doing, and shore up their code and fix it so they can eventually accept more customers?  My guess is because their code is sheer spaghetti and their coders tear out their hair on a daily basis.  It’s millions of lines of code broken beyond all repair and they don’t have the super-genius coders available to fix it… because all those coders are making serious money working for Valve. :D

            Beyond that, I really enjoyed your observations about the early days of Internet.  I think you’re right, that while AOL made a LOT of enemies and ultimately had to take a back seat, they did pave a lot of highway where others could later follow.  The only thing that bothers me about that scenario is the “Micro$oft $yndrome”.   Because they employed questionable methods and became the big dog… who did they block from entering the market and doing the job the way it should have been done?  (I mean, thank goodness for Windows… but it is a far cry from a good, efficient operating system.)

            Personally, I don’t like the AOLs and Micro$ofts of the world.  Usually they get where they got by unethically stepping on people that, given a chance, could have done a far better job.  That’s what really ticks me off about Linden Lab (and yes, I admit, I’m actually ticked off at them and have been for some time).  Their unethical and stab-customers-in-the-back operational method prevented their product from becoming what it should have been.  At the same time however, that same mentality eventually forced users to consider alternatives, and OpenSim was born.  Nevertheless, the birth and proliference of OpenSim is no excuse for the initial failure of Linden Lab to be an ethical company that delivered what they promised.  I love Inworldz, but Linden Lab forcing their existence (and the existence of dozens of other OpenSim grids) doesn’t replace the $50 grand my group wasted with Linden Lab over the past 7 years. 

            The only comfort I take is that they won’t get another $50 grand during the next 7 years.  And that’s a fact regarding which they should be very, very concerned.

            Hmmm I ramble.  Time to go play more Portal 2 and take additional snark lessons from GlaDOS.  Woohoo! :D

          • http://www.hypergridbusiness.com Maria Korolov

            Wayfinder — AOL spent $300 million on sending out those disks. $300 million! Even if SL is pocketing $5 mill a month — it would take them five years to recoup that… actually, not too bad, especially if you think that profits would go up as a result of the advertising blitz…

            So how can SL get more scalable?

            Option 1:

            It could take a page out of Kitely’s playbook and move its asset server to the Amazon S3 cloud (super scalable, super fast, super cheap). And it could move its region servers to the Amazon EC2 computing cloud (Kitely says its regions can support 100 users and 100,000 prims (and they’re planning to raise both limits). 

            Option 2: 

            It could “clone” its existing system and let folks hypergrid teleport between the different worlds. Second Life already tested hypergrid teleports between SL and OpenSim, so there’s no reason why they can’t work internally, as well. Since the hypergrid system currently supports permissions, instant messaging, friends, and landmarks, Second Life could build a system of multiple worlds loosely linked to one another.

            Option 3:

            It could use OpenSim to create low-rent residential worlds. Currently, the single biggest difference between OpenSim and SL is voice, and Second Life already has a Vivox voice license. And residential regions aren’t likely to need high-end physics — plus, it’s lower rent, so who’s going to complain? (Well, much, anyway.) The latest version of OpenSim are super stable (many users are reporting greater stability than Second Life), can hold over 1,000 avatars, hundreds of thousands of prims, and support mesh, media-on-a-prim, and all other recent bells and whistles. The latest version of OpenSim also supports bullet physics, which is supposed to be really good. (InWorldz is running a customized off-shoot of OpenSim from three years back, so they’ve missed out on a lot of progress.)

          • http://www.hypergridbusiness.com Maria Korolov

            Here’s the article about AOL spending on advertising: 
            http://techcrunch.com/2010/12/27/aol-discs-90s/

          • Wayfinder Wishbringer

            Okay, AOL spent $300 million sending out coffee coasters… but that doesn’t mean that’s how much is required to adequately advertise.  AOL was known for being chowder-heads when it came to advertising.  One can’t spend more than their profit line on advertising and expect to be profitable.

            I joined SL after reading a 10-cent Google advert.  ; )

            Regarding the claim that OpenSim can hold 1,000 avatars and hundreds of thousands of prims… when we’re able to talk 100,000 avatars and trillions of prims… then let’s discuss “time to advertise”.  One of LL’s actually valid claims is that compared to SL, OpenSim (including Inworldz) software can’t support anywhere near the concurrency. I know that for a fact; I’ve seen grids bog down at surprisingly low concurrency numbers. That’s a goal everyone is working for: higher concurrency.

            I’ll have to disagree with the statement that Inworldz has “missed a lot of progress” by backing out of OpenSim.  From what I’ve been able to see… it’s actually the other way around.  OpenSim missed out on a lot when (two or three years ago) the community failed to cooperate with for-profit grids, forcing companies like Inworldz to pursue their own methods.  I’ve used both Inworldz and OpenSim regions and I have to honestly say:  Inworldz works better and seems to be more stable overall. 

            People are welcome to disagree with that opinion of course.  Infinite diversity is what makes the world go around.  But someone simply claiming that “OpenSim is better than Inworldz” does not make it a fact, no matter how many times they repeat it.  I think the records show that when it comes to overall success (looking at all the stats, not just singling out a few)… Inworldz is doing pretty well overall.

            Now as for the future, from what I can tell Inworldz, Spot-On, OSgrid, Reaction Grid, OpenSim, ThisGrid, ThatGrid and all of them overall are trying very hard to become better every day.  That’s great. It can only benefit the community overall; we’ve had far enough of VR monopoly. I think at this time though, stating that Inworldz has missed “a lot of progress”… is ignoring the fact that Inworldz has themselves created a lot of progress– has kept up with OpenSim code (where they found it beneficial rather than buggy)– and seem to be quite successful in doing so.  : )

          • http://www.hypergridbusiness.com Maria Korolov

            Wayfinder –

            Concurrency depends on server size and bandwidth speed. With enough of both, you can have over 1,000 avatars on a single region with Intel’s new Distributed Scene Graph contribution to the OpenSim core code. Kitely plans to roll it out, but any grid can already use it if they want.

            With a home-based connection, you’re not going to get more than a handful of users, and several OpenSim companies underpower their servers. That’s not a fault of the OpenSim technology, however. 

            For corporate users who’ve got plenty of power and connectivity in particular, OpenSim can be much more stable and reliable than SL.

          • Wayfinder Wishbringer

            Now I wondered about that… because I’d noticed my operations on Inworldz are much more smooth and less problematic than on SL, and I was wondering if other folks experienced the same thing.  You verified what I’ve been experiencing: more stable and reliable than SL.  That is consistent with my findings.

          • Wayfinder Wishbringer

            BTW… is there any option for displaying this thread in “latest entry” format rather than descending-width columns?  I’m afraid of eventually getting to the point a post will be one word per line. ;D

  • http://westernprairie.net WesternPrairie

    Wayfinder Wishbringer wrote
    “You’ll get no argument from me regarding Avination, or especially Second Life. I fully agree that $295 a month for a region is just plain goofy (European users acutally pay $350 with VAT). “Yes, I knew about the VAT, and for $350/mo one can rent a whole server, it was my impression 3 or so years ago with SL that when you paid $295 for your region it was the only one on ONE server, with homesteads being installed several sharing a server.Turned out that wasn’t the case at all, and now I hear it’s gone from 8 to 16 regions per server- which would explain the persistent lag I get there every time I log in no matter what region I go to.”Your points regarding Avination and casinos is exactly the impression I got when visiting that grid.”The casino thing was legendary there but it appears to be largely gone- they were in a big way responsible for the triple growth by buying regions and setting up, with them largely gone the number of regions is about where the market level for a small grid should be. When you get lots more than 600 -1200 regions your costs increase substantially as you have to add more paid staff, more servers.” But as my visit consisted of all of 2 hours, I chose not to judge the grid based on my limited experience.  Since then however, others such as yourself have confirmed the validity of my experience:  Avination doesn’t quite seem to have their polcies up to “user-beneficial”. “Well I had no problems, of any kind there, I really don’t know what the perceived problem or expectations WERE, I mean what do people expect for $60 a month? The biggest gripe I saw was about the freebies policy, geez, one woman complained it cost her $15 to “set up” her AV with skin, clothes etc and she was annoyed. $15 is chump change, heck, a MAGAZINE on the rack like Better Homes and Gardens is up around $12.95 or something like that now and you read it and toss it. A newspaper is $1.50 and you read and toss that out too.I felt the “no stores full of freebies allowed” policy was good (its changed now) glutting a grid with thousands of free clothes, skins, hairs,  houses, textures and everything else people would otherwise BUY- supporting merchants, they go around and grab all they need for free.I found the staff  in Avination extremely friendly, helpful and dedicated, In fact I put back one of my regions a month ago on their $40 special but have since lapsed it again due to the time factor of trying to mess with regions on two grids.I dislike the IW owners, their attitudes, as well as being smothered by over-attentive “mentors” every time landing on the default region,  the “clique” with a small group that goes on there on their forums that drives away  people they dislike on purpose. (theres a post from the admins there about that even) and I dislike their policy of selling abandoned sims as “used” for half price, with the original owners region name still on them being used by the new owners- which totally undercuts the resident’s trying to SELL theirs that they no longer want.When you lapse a region in avination, it gets archived for a while in case you come back, 90 days I think it will be available intact, and then it just gets removed.One business woman who  abandoned her region in IW was very upset when her region was sold to a new owner and it retained her original region name, which happened to be her business name in SL. The new owner refused to change the name and the grid refused to force it, I don’t know if the lady went to court over it or not but she was pissed about it and looking into options.” The primary purpose of VR isn’t to sell things; it’s to provide community.  Some people become wildly successful merchants (a relatively small handful).  Others play at being merchants and have fun with the role play (as well as enjoying the occasional monetary cashout,”Totally agree there, and for those who like playing the part of “landlord” or “store owner” it works, and if the income offsets the costs thats good too.Cashouts unfortunately cost fees as well- everyone gets their little cut, especially paypal.

    • Wayfinder Wishbringer

      I mean what do people expect for $60 a month?

      I’m glad you said that; it seriously needs said, and repeated on a regular basis.  I’m always amazed at people who complain about Metaverse grids… when we’re paying 1/4 the price of SL and getting 3 times as many prims.  I mean seriously… I’m pretty happy with that.  I wonder if a lot of the people complaining are newbs who never had to mess with Linden Lab’s hyper-abusive, self-serving policies, and really don’t understand what a deal they’re getting for $60 to $75.  Couldn’t agree more, Western.

      Regarding freebies, I may have a similar or different view from some folks there.  As a merchant, I love creating, scripting, building, selling, love “cashing out”.  It’s part of the fun for me as I’m a goal/rewards-oriented person. That’s just my personality.  Others however, enjoy “doing-for-the-sake-of-doing” (I envy them) and for them, such goals aren’t so important. 

      I have often wondered if LL did the VR community somewhat of a disservice by making their sims so expensive and founding their entire grid on an economy-based system, where people pretty much had to sell and make money just to pay for the regions.  In the case of the Metaverse, one of the things I really like is that while I’m still a merchant and still enjoy creating / selling… I don’t have to do so to survive and pay region fees. 

      These things considered, I’m all for freebies (so long as they’re really freebies, honestly made and presented, and not copybot ripoffs of someone’s work. That’s long been an issue.)  In fact in my main store in ElvenSong at Inworldz, I host a decent-sized freebies wall right next to my shop.  Not only does it draw people to my shop, but more importantly it provides folks who have no funds a way to get started and enjoy themselves.  I wouldn’t mind having twice the number of freebies we already have.

      If that costs me a potential sale from time to time, that’s okay.  I’m happy to make that small sacrifice.  There’s no way to know for certain, but I have a feeling that freebie wall draws me more business than it loses.

      One of the things I love about Inworldz is the huge freebies area at IDI (which I myself peruse regularly).  I also really appreciate the attentive mentors, who are very eager to help newbies.  If that means they “bug” me when I show up at IDI for the hundredth time… that’s totally okay.  I simply tell them I’m an existing member, and get to know a lot of them as friends.  After a while they get to know me, and it actually becomes a “family” center at the rare instances I’m tired, bored or simply want some company.  So my  experience there is a little different from yours. 

      I will agree that these days $15 can be “chump change”… but for people who use VR as cheap entertainment because this economy no longer allows them to go running around, $15 can buy a half a tank of gas. I will readily admit that on SL, for a really good avatar one is going to spend a minimum of 3k to 6k L$ (which is about $12 tgo $24).   On Inworldz it can easily cost less than half of that.  But the wondrous thing is that due to the generosity of merchants on that grid, one can go to IDI, pick up some landmarks, and in a day or two wind up with a wondrous avatar complete with clothing, shoes and hair, for free.

      From a standpoint of encouraging new people to use VR… I think that’s absolutely great.  Why?  Because they come into the system, someone takes them on the wonderful adventure of “let’s find you an avatar”… they wind up with very good results, have a great time… and they decide to hang around.

      After they hang around a bit, they decide they want to rent a home.  Then they want to furnish that home, acquire additional avatar or clothes, and by that time they’re willing to start spending money.  Then the merchants get payback.  Then the person joins with a friend and they go in together to buy a sim.  As a result the grid grows, the economy increases, everyone is happy.

      As Tranquility says (I paraphrase), “Profit should be a result of satisfied customers.”  That is a lesson Linden Lab has never learned, but of which Inworldz is a prime example.  The way to make money is not to soak people up front for an avatar.  It’s to give them a wondrous free avatar, let them enjoy the startup experience, and decide to start spending money once they’re satisfied and happy.  Then they become long-term customers… which is beneficial for the grid and Metaverse as a whole. : )

  • http://www.hypergridbusiness.com Maria Korolov

    Wayfinder — To go wide again, just add a new comment at the top of the comment thread, instead of replying to a previous comment. Meanwhile, I took a chunk of this discussion and made a separate post:

    http://www.hypergridbusiness.com/2011/12/how-to-scale-second-life/ 

  • http://westernprairie.net WesternPrairie

    “There were 73 respondents who reviewed Avination”

    Thanks for the update, good to know, though the possibility does exist to skew the results it appears you are on top of it.

    Hard to imagine only 73 out of all the users even bother filling out the survey at all, likely similar results and less on the rest, but then it’s no surprise when I’ve seen less than 1/10th of the residents of my town even bother to turn out to VOTE for the MAYOR or his replacement.

  • http://westernprairie.net WesternPrairie

    Wayfinder – if you are going to turn every reply to my posts into a promotional  advertisement for your inworldz then I’m not going to bother responding to you any further so as to enable you to continue doing that, good day and good bye to you.

    I’ve said my piece of what that grid is like, the costs, the little “clique” that goes on there, and the disrespectful manner in which the founders address some of the now formerly paying clients such as myself,  and people will just have to find out for themselves and live and learn!
    As I said, I dumped both of my $150 regions there due to what goes on, and moved on, you couldn’t GIVE me two sims there for free.
    Now I save roughly $225/month and it’s going into MY bank account instead of going in elenia’s bank account which is the best part.