Kitely was OpenSim’s most valuable grid in 2017

One of the most important numbers in OpenSim is how many new people sign up for accounts each month. New people means new customers for merchants, new creators and performers who help improve quality of life on the grid, new people to interact with, and, of course, potential new land renters for the grids themselves.

This year, Kitely was the grid that brought in the most new users. And, since Kitely is hypergrid-enabled, these users have been able to travel to most of the other OpenSim grids, enriching the entire community.

The number of new users registered by the five leading grids in 2017. (Hypergrid Business data.)

That is not to say that closed commercial grids aren’t valuable, as well. InWorldz, the only closed grid on our list, does not allow hypergrid travel. However, the average InWorldz resident has been to three other OpenSim grids. InWorldz has invested significant resources in marketing over the past few years. Creating an account on an OpenSim grid for the first time is not easy — users have to first know what OpenSim is, then the interface for adding a new grid to the Firestorm viewer is not intuitive, and users also have to visit the grid’s website in order to create a new account. Once users get over that initial learning hurdle, visiting other grids becomes much less of a challenge.

We have been collecting user registration numbers since 2009. They are not perfect — people sometimes create multiple accounts, though that is likely to have been declining as more people travel the hypergrid and use the same avatar everywhere.

And just because someone has created an account, it doesn’t mean that they visited the grid — or that they came back after they visited the first time.

Finally, there is no way to double-check these numbers. With land area, people can go in and see if the regions are actually there. With active users, they can log in and see if there are people on the grid. Whenever there’s a discrepancy, they post on social media posts and send us angry emails. With registered users, however, we have to take the grid’s word for it.

Both Kitely and InWorldz reported declines in the number of new users that signed up for accounts each month, but Kitely held on to the top position for eleven of the last twelve months.

For the year as a whole, Kitely registered 21,888 new users and InWorldz registered 17,875.

Number of new user registrations each month on the top five grids. (Hypergrid Business data.)

Three other grids, Virtual Brasil, OSgrid, and Island Oasis competed for third place all year, but Virtual Brasil came in slightly ahead of the others with 6,865 new users registered in 2017, followed by OSgrid with 5,924 and Island Oasis with 5,024.

InWorldz most active

InWorldz had the highest average monthly active users of any OpenSim grid this year.

However, the grid only reported active user numbers for the first three months of the year and those numbers were declining. Even if that decline remained steady, however, InWorldz would still have had the highest active user numbers — though they would have been 4,612 instead of 5,620.

OSgrid was in second place with 3,842 average monthly active users, followed by Metropolis with 3,629, DigiWorldz with 1,676, Island Oasis with 1,352, Kitely with 1,213, and Lost Paradise with 1,016.

InWorldz is a closed commercial grid. The other grids on this list are all hypergrid-enabled, allowing travel from one grid to another, shopping on other grids, multi-grid friend lists, and cross-grid instant messages.

Metropolis and OSgrid are both non-profit grids that allow users to connect their own regions. Both grids accept donations and are part of the Amazon Smile program, where a percentage of all your purchases goes to help the grids. In addition, OSgrid is a registered US non-profit, allowing donors to deduct donations from their taxes.

You can donate to Metropolis here and donate to OSgrid here.

The Kitely Market

As a reader pointed out in the comments, I originally neglected to mention the Kitely Market. Here, Kitely stands in its own unique category, since no other grid or vendor has a viable multi-grid marketplace.

Kitely doesn’t disclose how many people use their marketplace, but it does offer some numbers, including the number of different items listed, and the grids the market delivers to.

Currently, anyone can go to the Kitely Market, buy something online using either PayPal or Kitely Credits, and have it instantly delivered to their avatar on any hypergrid-enabled grid. And if their grid isn’t hypergrid enabled, the grid owners can still opt to receive Kitely Market deliveries by following these instructions.

As of the end of 2017, the Kitely Market is delivering products to avatars on 240 different grids — a growth of 48 percent compared to this time last year.

The number of grids the Kitely Market delivers to over the past three years. (Kitely data.)

The total number of product variations listed on the Kitely Market has also grown, from 16,364 at the end of 2016 to 20,858 last month. The Kitely Market groups listings into products, such as multiple colors of the same dress, and the number of distinct products grew from 8,551 to 11,014. Those growth rates were also in the double digits last year, 27 percent and 29 percent, respectively.

Product variations sold on the Kitely Market in 2016 and 2017. (Kitely data.)

Kitely Market merchants can also choose whether to make their listing items exportable or not. If they’re exportable, then users can have them delivered to any grid. Non-exportable items can only be used on the Kitely grid and cannot be delivered to other grids, taken to other grids via hypergrid teleport, or downloaded in OAR export files.

At the end of 2016, 70 percent of all listings were exportable. Today, that percentage is up to 77 percent, a sign that Kitely Market merchants are increasingly comfortable with hypergrid commerce.

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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.

13 Responses

  1.' Da Hayward says:

    Great summary Maria

  2.' Vinzenz Feenstra says:

    To me the new users data is biased towards kitely – especially considering that you need an account on kitely to sell on the market

    • Bias implies deliberate (unfair) favoritism.

      Kitely offers a service where merchants can sell across multiple grids, Inworldz does not.

      Kitely attracts a higher number of users. Even if a merchant is only
      around long enough to list items, they still used the service, so its hard to argue that they are not a user. Frequency of use is a different discussion.

      I fail to find a bias anywhere here.

      •' Arielle says:

        I would agree with Vinzenz in that for Kitely, the new user data includes new users of its marketplace service, not of Opensim itself. There is an inherent bias there which I would assume not to have been deliberate but is nonetheless a contributing factor to the stats.

    • Shoot — I was going to include the Kitely Market, and forgot. Thanks for reminding me! Yes, absolutely, the Kitely Market is HUGE and provides an enormous benefit to the broader OpenSim community. I’ll go and add that in.

      • I updated the story …and just noticed that the charts don’t match. Arrgh. I feel my OCD kicking in… should I spend the next two hours redoing the charts, or go back to working on the communities story…. oh, the horror! the horror!

  3.' Freda Frostbite says:

    I still can’t figure out why Inworldz is even included in a discussion of open sim. Inworldz is sort of the opposite of open. I have no problem with Inworldz being what it is, but it is not an opensim grid and never has been. I am afraid we equate NOT being a product of Linden labs with being open source and open to the community of opensim.

    • InWorldz runs on a version of Halcyon, which is itself a version of OpenSim. InWorldz didn’t create this from scratch. In fact, there are many versions of OpenSim — the Diva Distro, AuroraSim, WhiteCore Sim, etc… etc… and many other commercial grids also customize the OpenSim that they use to fit their requirements. Kitely, for example, has extensive customizations so that their grid can run in the cloud.

      The fact that InWorldz sometimes claims it is not OpenSim is like a burger joint claiming that they’re not serving burgers because they’re serving “ground steak patties” or something like that. It’s just a marketing thing.

      InWorldz is also part of the open source community. They donate code — both patches to OpenSim and, most recently, the whole Halcyon code base. Here are some examples of their contributions:

      Finally, one criticism of InWorldz is that they are not hypergrid-enabled. This is true, and they may well have forked too far off from mainline OpenSim to turn on hypergrid if they wish to, and would have to export their database and rebuild the grid from scratch using standard OpenSim and then pull in their custom modules — either way, a humongous amount of work.

      But other grids also have hypergrid turned off, or have hypergrid partially enabled on some of their grid. There are many good reasons to have hypergrid turned off — to protect school children from strangers, to protect proprietary content in role playing games, to protect vulnerable communities such as sexual minorities in repressive regimes, to protect patient identities, and so on and so forth.

      For end users, logging into InWorldz is identical to logging into any other OpenSim grid — they create an account on the website, load up Firestorm, select the grid, and log in. There are differences in in-world physics and scripting, but there are also differences on other OpenSim grids.

      Meanwhile, InWorldz has been hugely successful in bringing in new users, especially in previous years.

      In almost every year for which I have data, InWorldz has been the top grid when it comes to registering new users. In fact, in 2011, 2012, 2013, 2014 and 2015, InWorldz was single-handedly responsible for about a third of all new registrations of all the public OpenSim grids.

      I wrote about this last year:

      I have a chart in that article, showing InWorldz’s relative registrations compared to Kitely’s. Here’s an updated version:

      •' mikelorrey says:

        Agreed. While I am a huge fan of the hypergrid, most people who meet me in various grids meet my Kitely avatar and not a local account, OpenSim was OpenSim before the hypergrid existed. That said, definitions may change. Since we all use the same viewer to access the Big Grid as well as our OS grids, one can argue the same thing about SL, that since it chose ultimately to not become Open, despite all the work done back in the day by the Architecture Working Group which both LL and IBM participated in on developing the standards that went into making hypergridding possible (and btw Halcyon is hypergriddable, but Inworldz contract with the Armys MOSES project specified that they had to improve security before enabling hypergridding).

        •' Arielle says:

          mikelorrey said: (and btw Halcyon is hypergriddable, but Inworldz contract with the Armys MOSES project specified that they had to improve security before enabling hypergridding).

          First I have heard of that and am in fact surprised that opensource code could have stipulations restricting the use of features already built in. Do you have a link to any documentation that HG capability already exists in Halcyon?

          •' mikelorrey says:

            The original Hypergrid code was implemented in 2008-2009, well before Inworldz was a thing. Unless they intentionally removed the code, it should still be there in Halcyon, but not enabled.

          •' mikelorrey says:

            Arielle, it was only a few months ago that we all had a bit of a snit over my complaints how some opensim region operators have castrated their ini files to disable many standard lsl functions like http-request. Of course you can restrict the use of features already built in, despite how much such customization may fragment the very idea of an open metaverse.

          •' Arielle says:

            Different thing imo as this would be beyond a mere config disablement. If that would be the case I am sure we would be seeing a lot more Halcyon/Moses regions and Grids out there as it wouldn’t take much to re-enable it and bring it up to date depending when they actually forked.

            Depending on whose word you take, the fork happened either in early 2009 (Jim Tarber) or early 2010 according to the readme on their github.
            Halcyon was originally based on the OpenSimulator project but was forked in 2010 to provide a stable platform for everyday use under high load.

            I remember hearing/reading something that it would take about a year to bring it back into the Moses project but even then would be a different animal with no backward compatibility with current Opensim master.