Users, regions grow on the hypergrid

OpenSim’s land area and active users hit new record highs this month. Land area passed 4,000 square kilometers for the first time, and 60,000 regions, while active users crossed the 32,000 mark.

At 4,015 square kilometers, OpenSim’s public grids added together are now bigger than the state of Rhode Island.

OpenSim region counts May 2015

Number of standard region equivalents on OpenSim’s public grids. (Hypergrid Business data.)

OpenSim grids gained 1,750 new regions, for a new total of 61,262. The gains were all on the hypergrid side. Closed commercial grids actually lost both net regions and active users this month.

Metropolis was the biggest gainer, with 839 new regions, Kitely in second place with 526 new regions.

Kitely recently announced that it was discontinuing its premium memberships, which come with either 10 or 30 free regions — but existing customers and anyone who signs up before the end of the month is grandfathered in for the future. This seems to have triggered a land rush.

Ilan Tochner

Ilan Tochner

“Quite a lot of people have responded to our upcoming phasing out of the Premium Account and the limited time offer of our Gold Plan,” Kitely CEO Ilan Tochner told Hypergrid Business. “We’ve seen a double digit percent growth in the number of Premium Accounts and Gold Plans in the last ten days. This is a really great deal for those who understand how to take advantage of it and now is the last chance to get it.”

The startup Digiworldz grid gained 304 new regions, lifting it above the 700 region mark, thanks to the reputation of its founders and an active “size matters” marketing campaign, offering four-by-four 15,000-prim varregions for just $16 a month. It is a commercial, hypergrid-enabled grid.

The Great Canadian Grid gained 292 regions, nearly tripling its size. The grid had been offering 15,000 prim regions for $5 Canadian — about US $4 — but doubled prices at the end of April. Still an excellent deal, the grid has been gaining popularity not just with Canadians but media companies as well, and hosts the Metaverse Week in Review show.

Lost Paradise gained 125 regions, OSgrid gained 113, and SkyLife gained 107, more than doubling in size.

SkyLife is best known as the new low-price leader, with regions starting at just $3 a month. The grid also offers varregions up to 36 standard regions in size, with 150,000 prims, for just $30 a month.

All of the above grids are hypergrid-enabled.

There were 364 active grids this month, another record high. Most of the gains, again, were on the hypergrid. There were 67 more active grids on the hypergrid this month, and 22 more closed grids.

For those who are new readers, OpenSim is a free, open source virtual world platform that’s compatible with the Oculus Rift. It allows people with no technical skills to quickly and cheaply create virtual worlds, and then teleport to other virtual worlds. Those with technical skills can run OpenSim worlds on their own servers for free, while commercial hosting starts at less than $5 a region — compared to $300 a region for the same land in Second Life. A list of hosting providers is here. Download the recommended Firestorm viewer here. And find out where to get content for your OpenSim world or region here.

Popularity

There were 2,174 more active users this month, for a new high of 32,369. Hypergrid-enabled grids gained more than 2,000 new active users, while closed grids lost 132.

The hypergrid now accounts for 62 percent of all active users. Closed grids account for 38 percent — however, InWorldz alone is 24 percent of all active users, leaving all other closed grids to share just 14 percent of OpenSim’s active user base.

Active user growth on the hypergrid has been dramatically outpacing that on closed grids. (Hypergrid Business data.)

Active user growth on the hypergrid has been dramatically outpacing that on closed grids. (Hypergrid Business data.)

The only closed, commercial grid to gain substantial new active users is the Bitcoin-based gambling world YrGrid. It more than doubled its active users, from 487 in mid-April to 1,031 this month. the grid had the most growth of any commercial grid and only came in second to the non-profit OSgrid, which gained 608 new active users.

Cindy Chidester

Cindy Chidester

“More than 2,000 users across 67 different countries have joined their service since it opened in January,” YrGrid technical director Cindy Chidester told Hypergrid Business.

The grid is looking to make an impact beyond gambling, as well, by offering virtual retail opportunities to companies.

“We envision a virtual world where you can set up a shop with all your products, accessible to every part of the world, allowing you to demonstrate your products and offer services in an immersive 3D environment using Bitcoins at a fraction of the cost,” grid founder Kit Wang told Hypergrid Business.

YrGrid's Welcome Center region is a recreation of the gambling district in Macau.

YrGrid’s Welcome Center region is a recreation of the gambling district in Macau.

Using Bitcoin as the grid’s currency allows instant purchases in-world, and no delays for merchants looking to cash out. Users can purchase their Bitcoins at any exchange they wish.

“The main reason I chose YrGrid [is that] it doesn’t control the currency because it uses Bitcoin,” said Andy Grant, a business owner, operating a gaming area in YrGrid, in a statement. “Which means for me and my clients, virtually unlimited cash outs, tons of payment options, and no need to worry that the grid operator will print an infinite amount of currency.”

Other grids that gained traffic this month included AviWorlds, coming back from yet another setback, which gained 249 active users for a new total of 275. Eureka World, an educational grid based in Israel, gained 237 active users for a new total of 264. 3rd Rock Grid gained 172 actives for a new total of 556, Kitely gained 111, and Virtual Brasil gained 99 for a new total of 152.

Here are the ten most popular grids this month:

  • InWorldz: 7,675 active users (closed, commercial)
  • OSgrid: 3,683 active users (open, non-profit)
  • Metropolis: 3,120 active users (open, non-profit)
  • Avination: 1,290 active users (closed, commercial)
  • Kitely: 1,072 active users (hypergrid-enabled, commercial)
  • Craft World: 1,047 active users (open, non-profit)
  • YrGrid: 1,031 active users (closed, commercial)
  • Island Oasis: 921 active users (closed, commercial)
  • Great Canadian Grid: 844 active users (hypergrid-enabled, commercial)
  • FrancoGrid: 566 active users (open, non-profit)
  • 3rd Rock Grid: 556 active users (hypergrid-enabled, commercial)

Although InWorldz continues to top the charts, it actually lost 618 active users this month, more than any other grid. In addition, InWorldz typically leads the charts when it comes to registering new users. But this month, it fell to second place as its 1,613 new registrations were just behind Kitely’s 1,632.

Both grids are known for being technical innovators and especially recently, for actively marketing their grids, but Kitely seems to be pulling ahead with lower prices, megaregions, hypergrid connectivity, and its online marketplace, the Kitely Market, which delivers to almost all hypergrid-enabled grids and also some closed ones.

InWorldz is a closed grid which forked away from mainline OpenSim, making it difficult for them to roll out new features such as variable-sized regions — features that other grids can add with ease, and at no additional cost.

Kitely also uses a great deal of proprietary code, but they have been able to isolate their innovations in such a way that they can upgrade to the latest versions of OpenSim as they come out, taking advantage of new improvements and bug fixes.

Kitely is also the largest commercial grid that allows hypergrid travel and region downloads, with a content filtering system that allows creators to decide whether or not their creations can leave the grid via OAR region exports or hypergrid.

InWorldz is also reaching out beyond the grid with its InShape app. (Image courtesy InWorldz.)

InWorldz is also reaching out beyond the grid with its InShape app, officially released this spring for both iOS and Android devices. (Image courtesy InWorldz.)

One area in which InWorldz is setting itself apart from other grids is in marketing efforts that go beyond the existing OpenSim and Second Life communities.

The grid has spent over $1,000 advertising on Facebook this winter, grid co-founder Beth Reischl explained in a blog post this week. Reischl is also known as Elenia Llewellyn in-world.

That translates to a net acquisition cost of around $1 per new user, she said. The grid targets specific Facebook users who are new to OpenSim.

“The downside is the retention becomes much harder as we’re now dealing with brand new users who have no clue about virtual worlds,” she said. “This is also something that can be remedied, but the goal was to see if we could attract outside of the box users, and we did.”

Transitions

We have 23 new grids added to our database since this time last month, including NextWorld, Six Sides Grid, Counter Earth, SilverSky, Dynamic Worldz, Jazmine’s Closet, Nash Grid, Emerald Grid, Drexel, YSLife, Rainbow Grid, Turkish Grid, TheGrid, Lost World 2, Art-z Exposed, Radiola, 2Worlds2Go, Play Grid BR, Tyland, MagicalSim, Light Color Prim, Deep Horizons Research Institute, and KiWo Grid.

The following 13 grids were marked as suspended this month: Al Grid, Dawn, DMS World, Dracsoom, Drum Sound, Empyrean, Excelsior Station, Hillies Dreamland, OpenSimGallery, Rez Day, SaundCom Worlds, Shadowy Tales, and The Villo Grid.

Grids that have been suspended for more than two months are marked as closed. If your grid isn’t on the active grids list, and not on the suspended list, and is marked closed when it shouldn’t be, please let us know.

And 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.

By “public” we mean grids that allow hypergrid visitors, or have a website where people can register for or request accounts.

May Region Counts on the Top 40 Grids

The list below is a small subset of existing OpenSim grids. We are now tracking a total of over 1,081 different publicly-accessible grids, 364 of which were active this month, and 262 of which published their statistics.

All region counts on this list are, whenever available, in terms of standard region equivalents. Active user counts include hypergrid visitors whenever possible.

Many school, company or personal grids do not publish their numbers.

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

  • Ok, I will start it then-)) Hip, Hip, Hooray for the hypergated Metaversum!!!!

  • Penny Lavie

    The figures look wrong for Craft so why believe any of the others. And why are closed grids being given editorial space.

    • Penny — Hey, no reason to be mean! If the figures for Craft look wrong it’s because its one of the grids with a non-standard layout, and I have to type in the figures by hand, and I was up until the middle of the night last night getting them in.

      In this case, it looks like I grabbed the visitor numbers, instead of the total unique users number for the traffic stats. I just fixed it.

      Usually — as was the case here — if there’s a mistake, a grid manager or resident contacts me and I fix it.

      • For grids that want to make life easier for me — or to help reduce typing mistakes! — a standard format helps a LOT.

        For example, the default Diva WiFi screen, in English, is great — my database can pull in that data automatically.

        Another option is a plain text page, with just the following information:

        Regions: ###
        Registered Users: ###
        Active Users: ###

        The regions number should be in standard region equivalents. So if you grid is one four-by-four varregion, your grid size is 16 standard region equivalents, not one region. (I’m tracking land area here, not unique region names.)

        The active users number should include both local users and hypergrid visitors. (Here, I’m tracking how busy your grid is.)

        Thanks!

        • Finally, why I track closed grids:

          1. The residents of closed grids are my readers. They are part of the OpenSim community.

          2. Many closed grids are switching on hypergrid connectivity, as filtering options improve. By the time you read this, any particular closed grid might have decided to go to on the hypergrid.

          3. Some closed grids have money to spend on marketing — and, as in the case of the InWorldz example — are marketing OUTSIDE of OpenSim and Second Life. They are growing the pie.

          And our reader surveys constantly show that once users learn how to log into OpenSim, even if they start on a closed grid, they explore other grids as well. Some of them choose to stay on the closed grid because they find a community they like. Others go elsewhere, looking for a different focus, or cheaper land, or inventory backups, or whatever it is they want.

          Non-profit and personal grids often don’t have the budgets to do this kind of advertising.

          4. Commercial grids donate back to the community. Avination has donated quite a bit and — as we found out last week — so has InWorldz.

          5. Who else is going to write about them? When YrGrid launched with their unique Bitcoin-and-gambling theme, it was something new in OpenSim. Other grid owners are going to want to know how their approach works out.

  • Inworldz Pioneer

    Facebook does not even allow avatar accounts, only lonely Facebook pages
    Inworldz does not even have the mesh content to attract visitors anymore. from second life all the new residents have to see is a modern secondlife/opensim video on you tube and poof they are gone. after 6 years they spend 1000 dollars in advertising on Facebook i am unsure how others see that but that it seam’s to be trying to advertise a drop of water in in an ocean of endless water drops.

    Why cannot Inworldz developers if such smart coders update & deploy the latest version of opensim across the grid while being able to isolate their innovations in such a way that they can upgrade to the latest versions of OpenSim as they come out, taking advantage of new improvements and bug fixes. overnight they are perceptible if inworldz wanted to be.

    :Update:

    after another article here the inworldz grid is now offering 4 regions for $85 dollars a month with each region getting 12k prims,
    my opinion while many residents will see this as the founders looking after the interests of the residents if one does a little bit of research it is more likely caving into pressure after 6 years to offer something new.

    Inworldz offers very few options more then secondlife while even more years behind the rest of open sim with second life pushing more and more features out soon including experience keys,custom body morphs uploads,avatar revised 2.0,voxel terrain,all in the pipeline to be pushed out after testing and viewer side catches up.
    but here i am in inworldz still unable to use materiel’s going on 3 years while the rest of open sim gets new linden features in only a matter of days or weeks or come out with its own life changing features.

    My opinion while subjective might shed light on things. many residents who left second life for inworldz over time we became disillusioned while unable to react with many going offline while still keeping there homes but seeing them as dreams that died.many would just rather make cigar boxed guitars in real life then face the mistakes of choosing inworldz over osgrid so we wither like drying grapes on the vine without giving harsh criticism over why.

    • Sara Baxton

      Shouldn’t all this be shared with the powers to be at inworldz? And further more what are you talking about.

      • Sara Adams

        If you read maria’s article it’s clearly a response and opinion by another poster to her article.

        Sara, the Inworldz forums are very locked down with the comment likely deleted and the poster severely punished, from my perspective having watched them react to similar comments.considering inworldz is very expensive like second life its easy to lose a lot of money once banned so myself i can see the need for being nondescript.

        Before your comment i had not even read it, “tl:dr”

  • Peter Doom

    On some grids people can join and one region will be offered for free period, than if the person never pays to keep on or even never connects again, that region will still be there no matter what and count as a Grid Region but is not developed neither used by anyone – So in some Grids – Regions count do not correspond to actual regions open, they are just legacies accumulating to the count

    • Michael Sietz

      You are correct Peter maybe a few grids have not taken down regions that are no longer in use which will give a false accounting although, they do so at their own expense. To be efficient grids do need to keep up with removal of unused or abandoned regions. There are grids that truly have lost track. This can be an unfortunate oversight or may be by design. While I am able at this point I do weekly audits of our regions. I know as we grow this may require more time than I have so for now, I’ll do what I can and hope that others make some effort to audit their regions as well. Face it even an empty region requires space that has to be paid for on a server somewhere.

      • Peter Doom

        In some cases (Grids) regions are off (no servers used) and not taking resources when nobody visits, so in those cases, there is not a bit os pressure to clean them off

        • Michael Sietz

          You have a very valid point there. Fortunately my grid has only really existed for 77 days and with only 750 regions it is easier to keep up with changes as nearly all have been incoming not anyone leaving. But, I will do my best to keep up as it will only give me more accurate info to base business decisions on.

          • Cinder Biscuits

            On our grid, we have tied region activation/deactivation into the invoicing system. If an invoice goes past due, it’s automatically deactivated by the region conductor. (It’s also how we are able to spin up new/reactivated regions instantly upon payment.)

        • You see this happen on OSgrid where they accumulate a large number of regions, which in the past has been in the thousands when purged.

          Added: What I think we partially see with the re-opening of OSGrid is that quite a few people who set up regions on other grids have moved their primary regions back to OSGrid, but are still registered on the grids they found a temporary home.