Another record month for OpenSim

OpenSim grid hit a new peak this month, with 13,564 regions on the top 40 grids, a 9 percent increase from last month’s 12,425 regions — a gain of 1,139 regions. Meanwhile, total registered users on these grids grew 8 percent from 129,797 in mid October to 140,053 today.

OpenSim growth has been steady over the past year, except for a dip this past summer when OSGrid conducted a major housekeeping campaign and cleared out thousands of inactive regions.

OSGrid remained the top gainer in terms of regions, growing to a new high of 7,717 regions through a gain of 1,210 new regions. OSGrid currently has more regions than all other top-40 grids combined, due to the fact that people can connect regions for free if they have the technical skills to run OpenSim at home. There are also a number of third-party hosting companies offering full regions for as little as $9.90 a month.

OSGrid is also home to the largest user population, with 52,733 total registered users and 3,731 users who were active last month. OSGrid residents run a variety of freebie stores, as well. Finally, OSGrid allows hypergrid teleports to other grids, making it appealing for those looking for a jumping-off point from which to explore the metaverse.

The nearest competitor, InWorldz, was in second place with 688 regions, a gain of just 56 regions over the previous month.

However, InWorldz posted the single largest increase in users this month, gaining 3,013 new residents. The grid now counts 22,473 total registered users. InWorldz does not release the number of active monthly users. InWorldz is attractive to some users and content providers because it’s a closed grid — hypergrid teleports to other grids are not enabled, and region backups are restricted, making it less likely that content will leave the grid and attracting retail shops to the world. In addition, the grid gets high marks for community and support (see our recent grid satisfaction survey results here and hosting satisfaction survey results here.)

However, because of the lack of hypergrid teleports and easy region backups, InWorldz may be less appealing to builders. In addition, InWorldz prices, which start at $60 per region per month, are a bargain compared to Second Life but pricey compared to many other OpenSim hosting providers.

NexXtLife was in third place in user growth, gaining 515 new users for a new total registered user count of 2,258.

Other grids grew as well. VirtualLife gained 52 regions, AlphaTowne grew by 51 regions, JokaydiaGrid grew by 28, and Virtual Worlds Grid gained 20. Most other grids gained between a handful and a dozen regions each.

This month marks the official end of the Cyberlandia grid, which had been experimenting with an innovative distributed grid model. The grid managers had attempted to avoid burdening their central servers with the grid’s objects and avatar databases. Instead, they split the grid up into smaller grids and connected them together via hypergrid teleports and a shared map using the “link regions” function of OpenSim. The plan was that the grid would then be able to scale quickly and easily. In practice, however, OpenSim doesn’t yet support hypergrid-enabled friends lists, chats, instant messaging, or landmarks. These features are currently under development.

Cyberlandia has been succeeded by one of the smaller grids it was broken up into, Craft World, with a significant loss of regions — Cyberlandia had 250 regions at its peak, and Craft World currently has only 60.

Private grid migration

ReactionGrid lost one region this month, but it doesn’t mean that they’ve lost momentum. Unlike other grids, ReactionGrid isn’t just a grid management company — it’s also a hosting company, running private grids for companies, schools, and non-profits. Today, the company says that it is running more than 100 private grids for clients. ReactionGrid’s main grid is hypergrid-enabled, so residents of these private grids can teleport over, if they wish, to visit freebie stores, attend events, or network with other businesses and educators.

ReactionGrid isn’t alone. The Boston-based Immersive Education Initiative has helped more than 3,000 educators — either by offering them free hosting, or by helping them set up private grids at their own schools.Total number of OpenSim users is estimated in the hundreds of thousands for this group alone.

SimHost and Dreamland Metaverse also run private grids for clients, though neither has released the total number of grids they operate.

In addition, the popular Diva Distro version of OpenSim — an easy-to-setup four-region megaregion with hypergrid enabled by default — was downloaded over 1,115 times since middle of last month, for a new total of 2,554 downloads. This does not necessarily mean that there are more than 2,500 mini-grids running the Diva Distro — some people may have downloaded it but decided not to use it, and others might have downloaded it once and then installed multiple grids for their companies, schools, or clients.

Meanwhile, Second Life gained 203 regions, for a total land area of 31,557 regions, according to Grid Survey. Second Life no longer publishes usage numbers, but in October the company reported 988,397 active users.

Total OpenSim users and regions are thus starting to approach Second Life numbers. However, these users are very widely dispersed, with most staying on their own grids.

The dispersion issue is starting to be addressed, however. With the latest upgrade of OpenSim a more secure and stable version of the hypergrid teleportation protocol has encouraged more users to explore other grids. In addition, John Lester — formerly Pathfinder Linden — has launched the Hypergrid Adventurers Club, inspiring many to travel around the hypergrid. Lester has recently been hired to head up community outreach at ReactionGrid.

With the hypergrid, a popular events venue or shopping destination can draw visitors from many other grids — the same way that popular websites like Facebook draw visitors from all the Internet service providers. Today, more than half of all grids — and an even larger share of regions and users — are on the hypergrid.

November Region Counts

We are now tracking a total of 112 different publicly-accessible grids, 75 of which were up this month. The raw data for this month’s report is here.

Maria Korolov