OpenSim passes 200 grid milestone

Today, we counted exactly 200 public grids running on some version of the OpenSim software that were active this month, totaling 23,190 regions, 269,783 registered users, and 18,217 active monthly users.  This does not include regions and users on about a quarter of these grids that didn’t publish any statistics, nor on the unknown number of private school and company grids that don’t allow public access at all.

Meanwhile, the top 40 OpenSim grids by land area reported a total of 21,775 regions, 257,734 total registered users, and 17,364 active users. This was an increase of 1,138 regions compared to this time last month.

The jagged drops are due to periodic grid-wide purges of inactive regions from OSGrid. Growth on the top 40 grids hasn’t been as steep lately as OSGrid has increased the frequency of its cleanups — and as growth has been distributed between an ever-greater number of different grids.

Biggest gainers

The non-profit OSGrid saw the biggest increase, with 864 new regions. OSGrid allows anyone to connect home-based regions for free, and is also served by a number of competing OpenSim hosting companies offering regions at a large variety of price points and performance levels. Many OpenSim residents enjoy being part of OGrid’s many social groups, freebie stores, classes, and other activities., but some growth has moved to hypergrid-enabled mini-grids, with users teleporting back and forth for events and other content.

InWorldz gained 85 new regions, bringing its total to 1,202, the biggest gainer of any commercial grid.

Kitely was the third biggest gainer, with 68 new regions, bringing its total to 2,128 regions. Kitely is the only grid offering low-cost on-demand region hosting.

InWorldz’ most immediate commercial competitor, Avination, gained 22 regions this month, for a new total of 574. Despite this slight increase, the gap between the two grids has continued to widen.

InWorldz has been pulling head of in Avination, its closest commercial competitor, in land area, but also in active user counts.

But InWorldz has really taken off this month when it comes to its active users.

InWorldz gained 1,114 active users compared to last month’s 5,804. InWorldz now accounts for 38 percent of the active visitors on the 110 grids that reported active user numbers this month, and has more users than all other commercial grids combined.

InWorldz saw a big jump in active users this month, now accounting for more than a third of all OpenSim visitors on the public grids, and more traffic than all the other commercial grids combined.

There was no particular reason that active user numbers should have shot up so sharply, said grid founder Beth Reischl — also known as Elenia Llewellyn in-world.

“I’m unaware of any issues with Second Life during this period, and we didn’t run any specials or promotions,” she told Hypergrid Business. “We also don’t report traffic numbers per region, so there wouldn’t be a reason for anyone to game the system there.”

One possible explanation for the steep rise could be the network effect. Folks looking for a closed, social grid like Second Life but with lower prices and better customer service have several OpenSim grids to choose from — but are most people likely to pick the one where their friends are, where the most events are, and where the most merchants are. Meanwhile, merchants and event organizers want to be on the grid with the most active users, helping feed the cycle.

“We have always attributed our growth to our current residents,” Reischl said. “They spread the word, and really try hard to bring their friends and favorite brands into InWorldz.”

Top ten most popular grids this past month:

  1. InWorldz: 6,918 active users
  2. OSGrid: 3,607 active users
  3. Avination: 2,397 active users
  4. FrancoGrid: 848 active users
  5. Island Oasis: 561 active users
  6. 3rd Rock Grid: 399 active users
  7. Craft World: 393 active users
  8. Metropolis: 370 active users
  9. German Grid: 269 active users
  10. Logicamp: 216 active users

Metropolis was the second-place gainer, with 167 new users, for a new total of 270 monthly users. Avination gained just 114 new users this month. Speculoos gained 49 new active users, most of them hypergrid visitors..

Kitely actually lost 43 active users, for a new total of 195 actives, and lost its spot on our top ten most popular grids list.

Kitely CEO Ilan Tochner

“It was a relatively slow month mostly due to most educators and many of our European users going on long vacations,” Kitely CEO Ilan Tochner told Hypergrid Business.

Users may also be waiting for the rollout of megaregions, expected within the next couple of weeks.

“We are currently optimizing our multi-region and megaregion worlds to consume significantly less server resources than they do on standard OpenSim,,” he said.

Depending on their plans, users will now be able to have sims as big as 16 standard regions in size, he said, with optional megaregion support — at no additional charge. The megaregion feature allows the entire 16-region area to act as one large region, eliminating border crossings and allowing easy vehicles. However, megaregions are not fully supported by all viewers, and some users have reported occasional problems.

Other users — including myself — have never experienced megaregion-related bugs.

Another issue with megaregions comes when they are saved as OAR files. Currently, all the content from the entire megaregion is piled into one corner sim, with the OAR files from the other regions having nothing but terrain data.

Kitely has build new OpenSim functionality, however, that allows a multi-region area to be saved and has donated this code to the community.

“We’ve already contributed the big patches that we created to enable multi-region and megaregion worlds to be saved in single OAR files,” Tochner said.

That means that users will be able to export megaregion OAR files from Kitely and import them into any other grid that enables the functionality.

That doesn’t mean that they’re donating the separate code that allows them to load up these megaregions quickly from the cloud.

Kitely is unique among other OpenSim grids is that its regions are not up around the clock. Instead, they are instantly loaded up when people teleport in.

“We consider low-cost high-performance multi-region and megaregion worlds to be a differentiating Kitely feature and are developing most of the supporting architecture that is required to provide them in a separate OpenSim module which we will keep proprietary,” Tochner said. “As we did with our proprietary cloud-based asset server, this module is also cleanly separated from the standard OpenSim codebase so we can quickly integrate it into newer OpenSim versions when they become available.”

For example, a new, more secure version of the hypergrid system is currently under development, which will allow individual creators to decide whether to allow their content to travel off-grid. Once the new technology is in place, Kitely is planning to enable hypergrid access for its worlds. Kitely was also quick to roll out support for mesh, media-on-a-prim, non-player-characters (NPCs) and other new features as they were added to OpenSim.

Hypergrid travels

Some grids, especially small niche grids, continue to report higher numbers of visits from other grids than they do from local residents. For example, on the education-oriented FleepGrid, known for its Creative Commons-licensed education and business-friendly freebie stores, only four local residents visited the grid this month — compared to more than 60 residents of other grids who teleported in via hypergrid.

The Belgian Speculoos grid, known for its copy of the Linda Kellie Freebie Mall OAR and a welcome attitude towards foreign visitors had a total of 98 visitors over these past four weeks — only 11 of whom were local residents. Speculoos does offer free hosting for non-profits and reasonable land rental rates, so there’s a possibility that some of the visitors might decide that they’re spending so much time on the grid they might as well live there.

As the hypergrid expands, it will be interesting to see whether increased hypergrid traffic correlates at all to increased land purchases, and which techniques can help best convert visitors into land buyers.

Hypergrid connectivity will also be a tool that other grids can use to compete against InWorldz.

Avination, for example, is not only plannning to turn on Hypergrid 2.0 when it’s available, but is actively contributing to its development.

This month the 94 hypergrid-enabled grids that reported their statistics had 6,871 active users and 16,344 total regions.  A small grid with hypergrid connectivity turned on can potentially draw on this entire community to promote events, shopping destinations, and land sales.

Transitions

The following 41 grids seemed to be suspended this month: 2nd Classroom, B2World, bitzend, Canaria, Carohome5, Cholul, Danni Land, Destiny Zero, ExoSpace, Faaborgs, Fantasy World, Free Open Grid, Genesis Project, GstarCAD, KorolovGrid, linkinulife, Meridian Grid, Metaventura, Oneworld Grid, OpenMoodScience, Outlands, PixelJunkies, Planet Envee, Red Isis, Ruby Shores World, Shangri-La Grid, Simlife, Sirius, Sofitek, Southern’s Place, Swondo World, Terra, TG Grid, Virtual Anonymous, Virtual France, Virtual Worlds Consortium, Witchville, Wolvenheart, Xscape Grid, Yeah Right, and YFC.

In addition, ReactionGrid’s namesake grid is in the process of closing down as well, as ReactionGrid the company refocuses away from OpenSim to development of its propritary Unity-based Jibe virtual world platform.

New grids

This month, we’ve added several new grids to our database, including VerkosisScottys PlaceHoroscope, the ANSAS grid run by Italy’s National Agency for the Development of EducationEmpreendimentos LopesBeta TechnologiesStarGates MatrixLummerlandOpenSim WorldWinter Heat3DWebFalls RetreatPanalandiaSimudyneGrid3rd WorldsLets3DVirtual Discovery CenterOlanticaSimLife3DKyle ArchipelagoConcadiaThunderLifeMeet3DOurWorld, and Alethia Grid.

If there’s a public grid we’re not tracking, please email us at [email protected]. There’s no centralized way to find OpenSim grids, so if you don’t tell us about it, and Google doesn’t alert us, we won’t know about it.

Well, there is one centralized way to find some grids — the New World Studio grid directory. It currently lists 841 different worlds, totaling 7,678 regions. There are many duplicates on this list, however, and few worlds were up when we checked. Those that were up, didn’t load for us. This could be because the software is still new and most people are still testing it out, or because of router configuration issues. The New World Studio is a fantastic way to get OpenSim up and running on a home computer, but making these worlds accessible to the public isn’t always as easy.

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

The Diva Distro has been downloaded 1,046 times over the past month. The total number of Diva Distro downloads now stands at 16.286. This does not mean that there are sixteen thousand mini-grids out there, however — someone might download the software but never use it, or download it once and use it to set up many grids. And it doesn’t include the Diva Distros used as part of the New World Studio distribution of OpenSim.

Diva Distro is also part of 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 783 times over the past month, bringing the total of these downloads to 13,775.

Meanwhile, according to data from The Hypergates, the number of hypergrid jumps increased from 2,273 to 2,508 this month. The number of gates went up by two, to 560, and the total number of grids on the network grew by eight, to 68. The Hypergates did not report the total number of travelers this month.

This data is very limited, however. For example, not all hypergates are part of The Hypergates network — anyone can create their own hypergate 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, or by using a hypergrid landmark created during a previous jump. There is currently no way of tracking that traffic.

Our own Hyperica directory now tracks 101 grids that are accessible via hypergrid, up from 100 last month. This past month also saw 82 unique visitors to the Hyperica in-world hypergate terminals, down from 137 the previous month. The drop in activity could be due to the summer months, or the fact that I haven’t been around as much to promote the site.

Meanwhile, Second Life lost 329 regions this past month, according to data from Grid Survey. Second Life now has a total of 29,543 regions, a decline of 1,695 regions from this time last year, and a drop of 2,342 regions from its peak in June 2010. Second Life no longer reports active user numbers.

August Region Counts on the Top 40 Grids

We are now tracking a total of 350 different publicly-accessible grids, 200 of which were active this month, and 158 of which published their statistics. Many smaller school, company or personal grids do not publish their numbers, and neither do SpotOn3D and OpenLifeGrid.

The raw data for this month’s report is here. A list of all active grids 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.

  • As of the writing of this article can you get to ReactionGrid?

    • Tech —

      Their Stats page is still up: http://gsquared.info/portal

      But their loginURI no longer works: http://reactiongrid.com:8008/get_grid_info

      Hypergrid access hasn’t been working for a couple of years… and I just tried to log in directly and that’s down as well.

      Now, Kyle said that they might keep a minimized ReactionGrid grid up as a kind of portal, so I don’t know if the whole grid is gone forever. But definitely the grid as we knew it is gone.

  • Eros Deus

    I am in statistic heaven 😀

    • One stat I didn’t mention — SL lost regions 28 out of the last 31 months and 17 out of the last 18 months. The last time they gained regions was in November 2011.

      When it comes to users, SL activity significantly dwarfs what’s happening in OpenSim. I really wish they would release a reasonably-priced, hypergrid-compatible version of their server software and start giving grid owners a proprietary hosting alternative.

      They could work with Crista Lopes and Melanie Thielker on the new Hypergrid 2.0 security standard — to ensure content can’t leave grids unless creators specifically allow — and take their place in the metaverse.

      There are plenty of folks out there who like Linden Lab, trust their technology and brand, and would be willing to pay extra for it.

      Just as there are folks out there paying extra for a Windows Server for their websites.

      Maybe they can take some of the money they’re still making from land sales and instead of buying yet another gaming company, invest in a skunkworks of ex-Lindens, give them a license to the Second Life enterprise server, and set them free to do a metaverse play.

      You know, in case the whole Snow Crash thing actually happens, so that the company that set all this stuff in motion doesn’t wind up a historical footnote.

  • a multi-region OAR for Kitely? i hope it also allows for individual OARs to create a mini-grid. the way we run is 16 instances of OpenSim and each does its own thing with OARs so that it is a one-to-one relationship, fully independent from a console perspective but in-world, all 16 are connected

    thanks for including SoaS numbers, i am anxious to see if the installer version is a bigger success for the new school year (56% of this month’s downloads were the installer)

    so OpenSim has surpassed the private sims of SL!

    23,190 vs. 22,092

    • The public OpenSim grids have surpassed the private sims of SL.

      Who knows what’s going on with all the private company and school grids out there. All those thousands of Diva, Sim-on-a-Stick and New World Studio downloads… the uncounted folks who download the straight OpenSim and set up grids from scratch…. I really wish the devs would add a download counter to the main OpenSimulator.org download page!

      I think the folks running grids today — both public and private — are learning a lot about this technology and how to manage it, and will be in good position once the inflection growth point hits. Which will probably be once we get a good viewer.

      • amen on the viewer Maria! amd how about you do some investigative journalism on Overte? i’d love to donate to them and see that rolling =)

        • On Overte? What’s there to investigate? It’s a foundation setup to deal with OpenSim licensing issues. They’re now accepting code from viewer developers. It’s run by Justin Clark-Casey. They don’t really need money for anything as far as I know.

          Where money does come in useful is for testing servers, and those are on OSGrid, and I recommend that everyone who uses OpenSim go out and give OSGrid some cash.

          http://www.osgrid.org/index.php/donate

    • Hi Ener,

      You should be able to load your multiple existing single-region OAR
      files into sim-on-a-stick and, once our OAR patches are accepted into OpenSim core, use that to export a single multi-region OAR file which you’ll then be able to import into Kitely.

      • Forgive me if I end up double posting, poor connection at the moment.

        I am wondering if an OpenSim megaregion OAR (megaOAR?) can be imported into an AuroraSim variable region. And if the reverse can be done. That is, import an AuroraSim variable region OAR into an OpenSim megaregion.

        • Hi Sarge,

          Assuming AuroraSim uses the OAR code from OpenSim then its developers should be able to integrate the patches we submitted to OpenSim to add multi-region/megaregion OAR import/export support as well.

          If AuroraSim developers integrate this support then they should be able to use the aforementioned code to save a variable region to an OAR containing a megaregion.

          • I’m not sure what they’re doing, Ilan. I do know that you can import an OpenSim IAR into AuroraSim, but you can’t in the other direction. And I know that you can import a SRE OpenSim OAR into a SRE AuroraSim instance. Just going to ahve to wait and see.

  • Maria – and anyone else interested in this issue –

    I would love to see an in depth report on the reasons motivating people to look into virtual world experience, setting up their own worlds and what sort of endeavors we in the metaverse can come up with to attract new people to the whole concept.

    SL was awesome before that Anshe Penis thing and then it seems that with the growth of MMORPGs and Steam and such, and particularly Minecraft, those of us into creating for virtual worlds at all are kind of the new Dorks while “gamers” have gotten much cooler.

    One question I’ve been wanting to explore for awhile is what can be done to attract the completely clueless to the metaverse, what reasons would the non Dork have to even bother with it – what benefits or advantages are there really to moving into this realm and still doing so without all the negative stigma of being nerds and dorks playing in fantasy land, etc.

    I see the decline in SL stats and it’s easy to attribute it to OS growth to a point but the numbers still aren’t adding up overall. I suspect the decline can *also* be in part due to the fact it serves no purpose other than a glorified chat room for people without a first life anyway…the sheer lack of interest in and of itself. I know it’s awesome for those of us on the inside, but my question is more aimed at those unfamiliar with it or who are familiar with it but in some such negative manner.

    Why bother with virtual worlds at all?
    What benefits or advantages can be provided to the non VW enthusiast to get them enthusiastic, to bridge that gap and make VW usage as commonplace for us all as was the desktop and the cellphone and the internet and the tablets and the social networks, etc. were at one time?

    Thanks for the consideration!

    • Clover —

      Personally, I think it will build slowly. Virtual training simulations. Rapid prototyping. Virtual support groups, that kind of thing. And crazy individuals wanting to have their own virtual worlds.

      At some point, this will coalesce into a critical mass, and it will explode — the same thing as happened with the Web.

      For example, I just had back surgery, and plan to start a virtual support group. Probably in Kitely, to take advantage of their low prices and new megaregions — and the easy Facebook sign in.

      I got to sit in on the Club One project two years ago, and lost about 25 pounds over the course of a couple of months. It was a research project — they did the same group in real life, in a real gym, and a parallel group in Second Life. And it turns out you can lose weight and make permanent lifestyle changes with virtual exercise.

      I know of other virtual support groups as well — addiction groups, that kind of thing.

      I think if more people knew about it, it could become a killer app for virtual environments. They still need to do more studies though, have some large-scale results. An easy browser and working voice would help a lot, too — there were a LOT of technical difficulties meeting in Second Life. But despite all the problems, the drop out rate for the SL group was a lot lower than the drop our rate for the one that met at the real gym. So there’s hope.

      Plus, I’m optimistic about all those MMOs. They’re training a whole generation of people in using virtual worlds, in interacting with the environment, with one another, with using avatars, with virtual presence.

      Just like old-style 2D graphics games helped prepare folks for Windows and graphical user interfaces and non-keyboard input devices — like mice.

      I think that the major thing that’s slowing development down right now is the whole mobile thing. It’s a major technological transformation that is sucking up all the entrepreneurial resources right now — and all our brain cells. There’s only so much technological transformation a single person can be expected to absorb at once! And smart phones and iPads are really cool.

      At some point though, the wave of mobile innovation will level off — how many Angry Birds clone apps do we need, anyway? and everyone who wants a tablet will have bought one, and folks will start looking around for the next big thing.

      Movies like the Matrix — and I hear they’re working on a Snow Crash movie now — have helped prime people for the idea that there’s a virtual world in their future. Playing MMOs — or seeing MMOs show up as plot points in movies and TV shows, or watching their kids play them — have helped familiarize folks a bit with the interface.

      So once they hear that they can lose weight or quit smoking or stop drinking by attending virtual groups, or go to virtual job fairs, or attend virtual conferences, etc… etc… they’ll be more likely to give it a shot.

      Another good thing about the really big MMOs and the top-selling games like Call of Duty is that they’re getting everyone to upgrade their hardware and their bandwidth connections (and Netflix and Hulu helps with the latter, too). So when virtual worlds do arrive, the physical infrastructure will be there.

      Meanwhile, the early adopters — the hosting companies getting positioned now and writing their control panels, the grid owners experimenting with what makes grids work — they’ll be well positioned to take advantage of the wave of incomers once it arrives.