Dark metaverse grows four times faster than public grids

The “dark metaverse” of private OpenSim grids gained regions at four times the rate of public grids, according to Hypergrid Business projections based on a survey of hosting providers.

Last year, private grids accounted for an estimated 60 percent of all grids, adding up to 50,070 regions in the “dark metaverse.”

This year, private grids were 76 percent of the total, adding up to 170,938 “dark” regions.

Size of the dark metaverse. (Hypergrid Business data and estimates.)

The total number of regions on all grids — public and private — is estimated to be 225,890, up from 83,450 a year ago.

That is the equivalent of 14,812 square kilometers of land area, just a little bigger than the state of Connecticut.

Comparative land areas, in square kilometers. The total size of the OpenSim metaverse is currently slightly larger than the state of Connecticut. (Hypergrid Business data.)


To come up with this estimate, I asked the leading OpenSim hosting companies to tell me what percent of their grids and regions were in private mode, inaccessible to the public.

Ratios varied by provider, from 30 percent to 80 percent of grids running in private mode. A weighted average of the results was used to create a projection of the total size of the OpenSim metaverse.

These numbers are not out of line with the fact that the four major distributions of the OpenSim software have been downloaded more than 215,000 times.

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Maria Korolov

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

27 Responses

  1. lmpierce@alcancemas.com' lmpierce says:

    Hi Maria,

    The moniker of dark metaverse is misleading. If drawn from the idea of the Dark Internet, it fails to be analogous because private grids are accessible. If, as many argue, the metaverse means interconnected publicly accessible worlds, then private worlds are simply not part of the metaverse in the first place, and describing them as a dark metaverse much greater in size and growth than the metaverse is specious.

    You describe the nascent metaverse in the recent article, OpenSim is the metaverse 1.0, as characterized by being hyperlinked. Therefore, your definition of a metaverse precludes the notion of a dark metaverse made up of private worlds.

    Wouldn’t it be more meaningful to look at the “metaverse” as a concept of what is included, not that, which by definition, is not included? And if there is a meaning to “dark metaverse”, it seems to me it would still need to have the feature of interconnectedness between worlds, functionally excluding private worlds, but with the twist that somehow such a “dark metaverse” would be hard to access and not generally known to, or used by, ordinary participants.

    • tribe_gadgets@hotmail.co.uk' TribeGadgets says:

      Think I would have to agree. Although to headline is brilliant as it hints to the ‘dark net’ so journalistically it works. One point though – downloading an OpenSim installer might not be all that a reliable a figure (guilty here as late december I grabbed a new fresh full set of the various configs plus the 0.8* version to use on a new machine setup).

    • Actually, according to the hosting company with the most private grids running, the majority of them *are* actually on the hypergrid, or, if not always on the hypergrid, then have hypergrid enabled part-time or for some of their privileged users.

      A school grid, for example, might not allow students to travel — but would allow teachers.

      Of course, some grids have to run in private, behind-the-scenes mode, such as, say, military simulation grids.

      But even these grids might have inbound hypergrid turned on during, say, the initial construction stages, to allow designers to bring in content.

      And whether on or off the hypergrid, these grids *do* form a part of the general ecosystem — they buy content, hosting, and services, they use free content — and donate content and patches back. (MOSES, a military grid, has donated both code and OAR files!)

      Plus, “dark metaverse” sounds cool. 🙂

      • lmpierce@alcancemas.com' lmpierce says:

        Yes, I considered that a private grid could use hypergates among each other. But is an intranet part of the Web, even though it uses Internet Protocol technology?

        If the suggested terminology sounds cool thats fine, but it should be fitting and accurate all the same, or its misleading.

        There does seem to be a discussion to be had here, however, about what metaverse means, a term still without a universally accepted singular definition. If metaverse means the entire ecosystem, it also certainly extends beyond grids. In the case of this article I was envisioning the metaverse in a way analogous to the Web, and was thinking of a singular network of interconnected destinations with properties such as a three-dimensional space to move about in with an avatar. In this sense, there would be one global metaverse that entities either connect to or do not connect to. I could imagine a metaverse that is hidden and protected, forming a kind of shadow system. In fact, there could be unlimited such systems. But there would still be just one generally recognized global metaverse, characterized by its accessibility by the public, just like the Web. It might even get capitalized, like the Web. Of course, metaverse could come to mean multiple, but separate, interconnected worlds, and wed talk about metaverses in the plural.

        I’m sure that dark metaverse sounds differently to different people. While it does have a kind of Marvel inspired character to it, its just as easy to imagine that many might hear it as a negative, which could become yet another hurdle for the technology to overcome for acceptance.

        • Huh — I didn’t even think of private grids being connected to one another. Kind of an intranet for virtual reality.

          But no, I meant that private grids can still be connected to the hypergrid at large. Just because the grids aren’t open to the public, doesn’t mean that their users aren’t allowed to teleport around.

          So, say, I would consider a site to the be on the Web even if there’s nothing there but a login box, and everything else is behind the login screen, and inaccessible to the public.

          And I do consider closed grids — like InWorldz — to be part of the metaverse. Which, in theory, means that I should consider SL to be part of it, as well. So really, there’s no consistency here at all.

          As far as the “dark” part goes — I was thinking more of “dark matter.” We know its there, but we don’t know exactly where it is or what it does.

          • lmpierce@alcancemas.com' lmpierce says:

            Yes, I see your point now about dark. And its apt in describing many aspects of technology since a lot of development goes on unpublicized (or unknown) by the masses until suddenly it seems like the whole world is suddenly doing something new.

            I wonder as well about terminology of any kind since there are populist understandings, technical understandings, the definitions that come from popular media and the version that ends up in Wikipedia. Most people refer to the Internet when what they are really talking about is the Web. And to paraphrase Michio Kaku, the use of dark in relation to matter and energy is code for we dont know.

            The most salient point I derived from the article is that there is a lot going on that is not immediately apparent. I might have suggested metaverse private and metaverse public, but I cant even guess what well be calling things in 10 years maybe theres a book in this for you: Marias Tales of the Dark Metaverse.

          • sphere1952@gmail.com' Jim Williams says:

            Since I run a grid with exactly two “users” and we Jump all over the place…..

            Personally, I like the term dark grid, but I understand what is meant by Dark Matter — and I too seem to be outside of your ability to measure.

    • rt66@wanadoo.fr' Yichard says:

      I think too that “dark metaverse” is misleading, hinting at some illegal or criminal content. “Private” would be better. Although we also have “dark matter”, and nobody says it is criminal…

    • rt66@wanadoo.fr' Yichard says:

      Most worlds, even the most private, need to be connected, at least for some times or for the owners. Simply because it is very hard to create everything from scrap: clothes, skins, plants, furniture, etc. Even a world with very functionnal purposes (school, company…) need neat appearances, and some objects to work with.

    • rt66@wanadoo.fr' Yichard says:

      This is because there is an expression “the dark internet” which is about all the illegal stuff: drugs terrorism, paedophilia… It is not accessible from search engines, there is no directory of it, but involved people get the URLs from word of mouth.

  2. sargemisfit@gmail.com' Sarge Misfit says:

    I have to agree with Impearce about calling it “Dark”. There’s a negative connotation attached to it, including criminal. I’m not sure if I agree with him about private grids not being a part of the Metaverse, though, for it denies the fact that its the people that really make it what it is, and many of those people are a part of public and private grids.

    Perhaps a simply re-labeling, then? Why not the Private Metaverse and the Public Metaverse? That is both inclusive and differentiating.

  3. geir.noklebye@dayturn.com' Geir Nklebye says:

    IDK, but I never liked the word metaverse anyway. it sounds like something that does not concern the average human being. Just like metaphysical is not something most people relates to.

    I think we need to find a better word! 🙂

    • sphere1952@gmail.com' Jim Williams says:

      You don’t need a better word, you need to kick people who are sitting on it (the Word) off into the Void.

      The Metaverse is everything we can ‘think’. Same as the Universe is everything which ‘exists’. In the Metaverse you can have Unicorns as your Scientific Specialty.

      • geir.noklebye@dayturn.com' Geir Nøklebye says:

        I think my point is it is a very academic and inaccessible word for most people. If you ask the average person, they would have a very hard time defining it, let alone having ever heard it.

        We need something more marketable! 😉

        • sphere1952@gmail.com' Jim Williams says:

          Why? It is a very sonorous word, met a verse. Sounds really good to the ears! Not like something like Zeitgeist; which burns when you hear it. (And of course they’ve never heard it. It is new.)

          It is immediately obvious that Metaverse is a a play on Universe. Now I admit that people have a lot of trouble grasping what Universe means, and are forever looking for more of them, but given they get Universe, Metaverse is no great leap of imagination…..well maybe it is a leap into imagination, but that is a different matter.

          • geir.noklebye@dayturn.com' Geir Nøklebye says:

            It is only obvious it is a play on Universe if you speak English. In most languages you might translate it, but from a marketing standpoint that is wasted. You need a word that is unique, creates a resonance way beyond English (or even academic English), and that immediately creates an understanding of what it is all about or piques the curiosity to find out.

            In my native language Metaverse is a non-word and even if translated it would still be a non-word. It would most likely be associated with the word verse = a group of lines that form a unit in a poem or song

            Just my OMC 0.02

          • sphere1952@gmail.com' Jim Williams says:

            I speak Web, not English. It is a fact that my language originated in American, but such is life.

            Unless your native language is Latin I can’t really find that much room for sympathy.

          • sphere1952@gmail.com' Jim Williams says:

            by the way Verse is good. Meta-verse. Meta is the same as para in Pali, and a verse is a poem. Paraverse would be a good term too — I’d take that as a synonym.

  4. rt66@wanadoo.fr' Yichard says:

    I think this is interesting, and show a beginning of appropriation of the metaverse by all kinds of people, not just the ones which were selected by Second Life.

    When the open lands crisis hit in Second life (see the reminder under), the result was the loss of about 20% of the sims, but also a loss of 90% of attendance in my elf group and in my science group. Larger groups also experienced a loss of attendance. The discrepancy between the two figures (20% versus 90%) shows that the person who left SL at this moment were the most active, the most involved, the ones who took part in activities. I called them “dream seekers” (whatever this “dream” is: family, paradise, adult, business…) and they were the ones who were bringing life and economy in SL.

    So these new figures today tell us that the dream seekers are here again, that is people who want to do their stuff without being bothered by an arrogant “community”, like some people in Second Life pretended to do.

    Reminder: by the end of 2008 Second Life multiplied by 2 to 4 the cost of the most affordable lands. The results were the ousting of a large segment of the residents, who could not afford the new prices, and the revelation of the bait and switch strategy of Linden lab, together with its irrespectuous attitude toward its customers. By reaction, this boosted the whole Open Sims system as a more reliable partner than Second Life.

    • sphere1952@gmail.com' Jim Williams says:

      Hi Yichard!

      That was during the time I’d completely dropped out of SL I came back to a dying ecosystem, spent about a year there, and then moved out into the Metaverse (everything symbolic). We are here….trying our best to survive the moneybaggers.


  5. adam01tim@gmail.com' Adam Time says:

    Reading this thread is like watching Jelly fish.