Most read of 2010

This year was a big one for OpenSim. Lots of growth, lots of technological breakthroughs. But some Hypergrid Business articles got more attention than others — and, thanks to the miracle of Google Analytics, we know exactly which ones.

Here are the top 10 most-read articles of 2010.

10. OpenSim grows faster than Second Life

This article came out last January but a version of it hit the site every month, as OpenSim grids continued to gain land area and users. Second Life, meanwhile, began to lose regions and concurrent users in 2010, until Linden Lab finally stopped publishing user metrics altogether. In fact, the top 40 public OpenSim grids doubled in size in 2010 — and that’s not counting all the private personal, corporate and education grids out there.

9. Power users holding back Second Life?

Every technology company has to walk a balancing act between serving the needs of its established, experienced users and making its products simple and easy for newcomers. Linden Lab seems to be having a harder time with it than most, however.

8. How to choose an OpenSim hosting company

Bottom line: you get what you pay for. But if you don’t expect lots of traffic, and are prepared to take plenty of backups, there are bargains to be had. In 2010, prices for professionally hosted OpenSim regions fell to just $9.90 a month for 45,000 prims.

7. Laid off Wonderland developers to continue project

Open Wonderland hasn’t been seeing the adoption rates that OpenSim has. It’s incompatible with Second Life, so it’s not the destination of choice for those fleeing Linden Lab’s price hikes. But it is a very cool piece of technology. Eventually, OpenSim and Second Life will probably evolve to the point where they start to converge with Open Wonderland, and we’ll be able to move content — or even avatars — between the two platforms. Meanwhile, a handful of dedicated former Sun staffers and academics will continue to keep the fires burning.

6. How to get content for a business grid

This article summarized the main ways to get stuff for your new OpenSim grid. Since then, several service providers have announced that they will help customers migrate from Second Life, at prices starting at just $80 a region. With Second Life land prices set to double in January for educators and non-profits, these migration services are likely to become very popular — but may violate Second Life’s terms of service. Meanwhile, as educators continue to expand their operations on various OpenSim grids, they are also creating and distributing lots of new content — legal, fully licensed content — for use by both other educators and the general public.

5. In-world payments come to OpenSim grids

Austrian Linden exchange Virwox launched a multi-grid, hypergrid-enabled currency in 2010 on four European grids. Since then, the currency has spread to 18 different grids. Volumes remain low, however, since hypergrid travel has been hindered in recent months by a series of OpenSim software upgrades that have been rolled out by different grids at different times.

4. InWorldz rocks the growth charts

The most surprising OpenSim success story of 2010 is how a grid came out of nowhere, relying completely on word-of-mouth marketing, and became the second largest and most popular grid over the course of just a few months. InWorldz did this while bucking the hypergrid trend, a bet that seems to have paid off — keeping the grid closed means that content producers are less worried about their creations being illegally zapped away to other grids, which has attracted both designers and retail shops to the world. InWorldz is still in its infancy, of course — it is no Second Life. But it is a successful, and profitable, safe haven for those looking for a different virtual world experience.

3. Sex king takes on the hypergrid

This story — which dates back to the middle of 2009 — still continues to draw readers. Is it because of the word “sex” in the title? Utherverse, the company profiled in this story, has made a big bet on virtual sex, virtual gambling, and even virtual drugs.

2. Sex world recruits Emerald team

Given its adult focus, it’s no surprise that Utherverse snapped up some of the folks behind the controversial Emerald viewer this year. After all, Emerald is the viewer that brought realistically bouncing female breasts to Second Life.

1. OpenSim must wait to use new viewer

Second Life released its Viewer 2 — which supports media-on-a-prim — at the same time that OpenSim was undergoing a major architectural redesign. As a result, it took a few months after SL Viewer 2 came out before its features were added to OpenSim. There was no such delay when Second Life released experimental mesh support — OpenSim had it the next day. Literally. The next day. These guys are that good. Oh, and the new architecture? Enterprise users of OpenSim say that when they run the software with adequate hardware, that it’s now more stable than Second Life. A quick rule of thumb: if you want Second Life performance or better, have a dedicated core and 1 gig of RAM memory for each region. Expect to pay in the neighborhood of $75 a month for this, but you can get prices down to under $40 per region per month if you rent several regions at once and get a dedicated server.

Top resource pages

At Hypergrid Business, we don’t just run stories — we also have a variety of resources for our readers.

The most popular of these — and also the single most visited page on our site — is our directory of OpenSim hosting providers. This year, the directory was expanded to include other types of OpenSim vendors, including developers and content providers.

Other popular resource pages:

Have suggestions for a story? Would you like to contribute a column? Or is there a hosting provider or a consulting firm that should be included in our directory? Please write — [email protected].

Finally, we’d like to thank our readers — all 67,000 who’ve visited the site this year. Thank you for your interest. Thank you for your support. Thank you for your donations, and for your patronage of our advertisers.

But most of all, thank you for your comments and your kind letters of support. It’s been a great year!