The top 40 OpenSim grids gained 1,458 regions this month, for a new total of 24,040 regions on these grids, the second highest total since we began tracking these numbers in the summer of 2009. These grids also reported a total of 18,061 active users. 

Total regions or standard region equivalents on the 40 largest OpenSim grids. (Hypergrid Business data.)

A total of 224 grids reported some statistics this month, out a total of 249 active grids. All these grids combined had 26,579 regions and 19,925 active users.

Popularity rankings

For company and school grids, popularity is not an issue — the grids are set up for a specific purpose, and if they meet that purpose, then they are successful. The same is true for grids run by niche communities.

But when it comes to social grids, the rule is: the bigger and busier, the better. People looking to make new friends look for grids that already have the most users. Merchants looking to sell content will go to the grids with the most potential customers. Event organizers looking for the biggest audience… you get the idea.

With that in mind, here is our listing for the 10 most popular grids this month.

Top 40 grids sorted by activity:

  1. InWorldz: 6,445 active users
  2. OSGrid: 3,448 active users
  3. Avination: 1,727 active users
  4. FrancoGrid: 1,121 active users
  5. Metropolis: 1,101 active users
  6. Island Oasis: 932 active users
  7. Craft World: 528 active users
  8. 3rd Rock Grid: 418 active users
  9. AviWorlds: 407 active users
  10. Kitely: 386 active users

The biggest gainer was Metropolis, which moved from sixth to fifth place as a result of a gain of almost 200 new active users.

The two most popular commercial grids, InWorldz and Avination, are the two biggest direct competitors on the list. Both have similar region costs, both have been working on physics improvements, both protect on-grid content by prohibiting hypergrid teleports and restricting exports, and both are general-use social grids.

However, when one grid pulls away from another, it can be difficult for the other to catch up since popularity feeds on itself, especially without a clearly defined niche.

InWorldz has been pulling away from Avination recently in active users.

Active users on Avination (in red) and on InWorldz (blue). (Hypergrid Business data.)

And this seems to be reflected in region rentals, which are the primary income streams for both grids.

InWorldz region counts (blue) and Avination regions (red). (Hypergrid Business data.)

Army plans scalability test

The Army’s MOSES grid is getting ready to host a scalability test on March 22 in collaboration with Intel.

Intel has created the Distributed Scene Graph technology module for OpenSim which allows 1,000 or more avatars to share the same region.

“A normal open simulator ‘sim’ is running on a single processor and memory space,” said Douglas Maxwell, science and technology manager at the U.S. Army. “We have separated the physics engine, script engine, persistence engine, and client managers onto different servers.  This effectively spreads the loads.”

The test is scheduled to involve 100 people, Maxwell told Hypergrid Business.

Planned server configuration for the DSG test. (Image courtesy Douglas Maxwell.)

“We know this system may handle much more than 100 users, but we want to use this first event to test all the moving parts and make sure the system is robust enough to move forward with even larger future events,” he added.

MOSES – Military Open Simulator Enterprise Strategy — is an OpenSim-based world run by the U.S. Army Simulation and Training Technology Center. The world is used by researchers both in and out of the defense industry.

Virtual Highway drops upload fees, adds new themed regions

Virtual Highway, a closed commercial grid, is no longer one of the few grids charging users to upload content.

“Everyone can bring what they want and need for free,” grid owner Gene Call told Hypergrid Business.

Although it is a violation of copyright law to bring proprietary content from other grids without creator permission, it is legal to bring in content that you have created yourself, that you have specific permission for, or content that was specifically licensed for more general use, such as content from Linda Kellie and OpenSim Creations.

In other news, Virtual Highway is hosting a building contest this month where all participants get a free region to build on.

In April, the grid is having a land promotion where all those renting a new full region will get a second 1,000-prim water region for free.

The grid is also announced an educators’ discount of 25 percent for in-world regions. Educators can also use Virtual Highway services to crease a separate, private grid for their institutions, Call said.

Finally, the grid is getting ready for the grand opening of a six-region area dedicated to Pandoran roleplay next month. The builders are currently working on a human to Na’vi translator.

New Pandora-themed area on Virtual Highway. (Image courtesy Virtual Highway.)

Kitely speeds logins, adds community center

To speed up the login process, Kitely optimized how meshes are handled, and added transfer stations.

Kitely CEO Ilan Tochner

Kitely is an on-demand grid, where regions are put to sleep when they’re not in use, allowing for substantially lower hosting costs. However, it takes time to boot a region up, slowing logins when the destination is a sleeping region. Now, user avatars are automatically shuttled to a transfer station until their region loads.

“This new addition also takes us a big step towards being able to support hypergrid access,” Kitely CEO Ilan Tochner told Hypergrid Business.

Kitely will begin work on the hypergrid implementation next after the Kitely Market is finished, which is scheduled to happen in April.

In other grid news, volunteers worked together to create a four-region community center.

“This build is still very much in progress and the Kitely Plaza  hasn’t been officially launched yet, but it already includes some interesting places you can visit,” Tochner added.

Kitely Plaza. (Image courtesy Kitely.)

Aurora-Sim test grid AuroraScape shuts down

Despite high early growth numbers, AuroraScape shut its doors earlier this month, citing a lack of interest.

The grid grew to 101 regions in just a couple of months, but only attracted 172 users.

It was meant to be a testing ground for Aurora-Sim, a branch of OpenSim that supports variable-sized and infinite regions.

Those looking to work on Aurora-Sim code have a new option, however, the VWR grid.

“It’s a test grid for people and programmers and I give free plots for testing,” grid owner Savino van Meirhaeghe told Hypergrid Business.

RobStock a success, planning begins for next year

Next year’s RobStock fundraising event will held on March 7, 8 and 9. This year, the event raised more than $800 for the Doctors Without Borders charity on 3rd Rock Grid, Haven, and Second Life.

(Image courtesy 3rd Rock Grid.)

“We and the other two grids had a very good turnout and I am pleased to announce that our grid performed ‘rock’ solid during the event,” said 3rd Rock Grid owner Butch Arnold. Next year, he said, he hopes to see more grids participating.

According to Arnold, 3rd Rock has made some substantial infrastructure improvements over the past few months, resulting in increased stability and performance.

“Region crashes are now a very rare occurrence on our grid,” he told Hypergrid Business. “Our equipment is located in a datacenter with multiple high speed fiber connections and unlike many grids who rent or lease their servers from other companies, we fully own all of our equipment. Having full control over our equipment allows for greater cost control, flexibility when upgrades are needed, and a higher level of security for our users.”

Lust Airlines suspends flights

The sex-themed Lust Airlines grid has suspended operations as a result of financial issues.

Without a new investor, “the project will be completely cancelled,” said grid founder William Lamb.

Fortunately, there’s plenty of adult activity elsewhere in OpenSim, including the just-launched Kinc Grid.

The startup Avalonia Estate grid is also looking to get in on the adult action, with an adult-themed area focusing on the CFnm fetish. That’s the one where women wear clothes and the men are naked, according to grid founder Justin Ireman. The grid is hypergrid-enabled, so curious visitors can teleport in to avalonia-estate.co.uk:8002 from other upper regions.

Another new adult grid is the Karmalot Kingdom, which you can access via the hypergrid at karmalot-grid.co.uk:8102. As of this writing, the website isn’t up yet, but the freebie stores are already starting to fill up with goodies.

Sci-Fi-themed UFSGrid upgrades infrastructure, premium features

The UFSGrid, a role playing grid serving the science fiction community, has upgraded its website and its back end systems. Users can now use a single login to access all areas of the website.

New premium features include priority support, 6,000 extra prims for land renters, ability to sell parcels, and extended group abilities. Non-premium members can now purchase entire regions as well, but individual parcels are still limited to premium members.

“It is ironic that since broadening the theme of the grid to incorporate all Sci-Fi groups, we have actually had more Trek enthusiasts coming to find us than in quite a long while,” spokesman James Pharr — also known as Dionysus Q — told Hypergrid Business.

For example, the USS Curiosity, a Star Trek fan group, recently joined the grid and will soon be having a launch party, he said.

Other grid news

  • Lost Paradise has changed its hypergrid address to match its Website URL. To teleport to its welcome area, A Paradise, jump to lpgrid.com:8002 from any upper region. The welcome area is located at 9000, 9000, which is convenient to both central and upper grids, though the fact that the coordinates are nice round numbers could cause teleport problems since it’s more likely that other regions would share those same exact coordinates. The address change may have reduced hypergrid visitor numbers this past month, according to grid owner John Cloneu.
  • The non-profit, Italy-based Craft grid is working on a secure way to allow educational access — keep an eye out for an announcement later on this month.
  • Craft also reports a recent uptick in hypergrid visitors because the link between OSgrid and Metropolis has been severed. If a user from one grid wants to meet up with a user from another grid, they need to meet at a neutral, third location — such as Craft.
  • AviWorlds has its first role-play area, Pandora, a four-sim megaregion. The number of themed areas is also growing, grid owner Alexsandro Pomposelli told Hypergrid Business, such as the new boating region CityByDBay which hosts daily parties and has working boats.
  • The Virtual Ryukyu grid, a historic recreation of a old Japanese kingdom, has been upgraded from a mini-grid running in a single “standalone” instance of OpenSim, to a full grid. Grid owner Inuyasha Meiji uses the grid to create items for later sale in Second Life, and eventually hopes to see it become a role playing destination, or a site for history classes. The upgrade went smoothly, said Meiji, thanks to help from the OpenSim Users mailing list.
  • The Olantica grid is offering free shops and apartments for content creators, especially for those who specialize in furries and animal avatars.
  • The French-language Logicamp grid has added two events to its monthly calendar. There’a a regular Monday meeting at midnight Pacific time at the Campus 1 region, accessible via hypergrid at logicamp.dyndns.org:8002:campus-1. Also at midnight Pacific is the Friday Dance Party on the Condensation region at logicamp.dyndns.org:8002:condensation.
  • Markus Maué, the guy behind the Grid4Us grid that merged with German Grid in 2010, is back with a new grid — World4Us. The grid is still very much a work in progress, however, with the grand opening scheduled for May.
  • Tundra grid has a free land offer, with homestead parcels available on a first-come, first-serve basis. 
  • The Open Metaverse Project launched its OMP Grid today, with the goal of creating a public grid that anyone can freely connect regions to. The project also announced today that it plans to create and distribute free-to-use OpenSim assets and resources.

Transitions

More than 100 grids seemed to be suspended this month, so we’re not going to list them all here. Most of them are either would-be commercial grids that are in the pre-launch stages, school grids that are currently not in use, or personal grids that have been down each time we checked. If they stay down we will mark them as closed.

Meanwhile, we’ve added several new grids to our database, including ELIPOMP WorldWorld4UsKarmalotiTeach 3DHG TravelerRealms of EorithDream Realms 3DIHK AugsburgParadisiaAvalonia EstateKinc GridUCI Mondego vLabHogwartsAsia Fantasy LandNsG_HypergridMetariaStonefieldAVWECuddles’ WorldIndex of HyperGrid WorldsThe Gyre, Eden Cat, Simudyne MicrosoftVWRPro Racer Motorsports, and Avatarland.

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.

The official OpenSim website – OpenSimulator.org – began tracking download numbers for the software in January. The various versions of the packaged software were downloaded 2,638 times over the past four weeks, bringing the total number of downloads so far this year to 6,861.

The Diva Distro, a more user-friendly version of OpenSim, has been downloaded 692 times over the past month. The total number of Diva Distro downloads now stands at 19,971. This does not mean that there are nineteen thousand mini-grids out there, however — someone might download the software but never use it, or download it once and use it to set up many grids. And it doesn’t include the Diva Distros used as part of the New World Studio distribution of OpenSim.

Diva Distro is also part of Sim-on-a-Stick, a version of OpenSim packaged to run on a USB stick, which was downloaded 1,103 times since last month, for a new total of 18,492  downloads.

Meanwhile, according to data from The Hypergates, the number of hypergate jumps on their network increased by 76, to 3,132. The system now has 629 registered hypergates, down by 46 from last month, on 69 different grids.

This data is very limited, however. For example, not all hypergates are part of The Hypergates network — anyone can create their own hypergate by dropping a script on any object, such as our touch or walk-through single-destination hypergate script. In addition, many people do hypergrid jumps without using any gate at all, simply by typing a hypergrid address into Map-Search, or by using a hypergrid landmark created during a previous jump. There is currently no way of tracking that traffic.

Our own Hyperica directory now tracks 111 grids that are accessible via hypergrid. This past month also saw 101 unique visitors to the Hyperica in-world hypergate terminals, up from 76 the previous month.

Meanwhile, Second Life continued to lose land according to data from GridSurvey, with 148 fewer regions today than the same time last month. The Second Life grid now has 27,574  regions, down 2,576 regions from this time last year, and 4,311 fewer regions than its peak in June of 2010. According to GridSurvey, the last time the grid was this small was in June of 2009.

March Region Counts on the Top 40 Grids

We are now tracking a total of 570 different publicly-accessible grids, 249 of which were active this month, and 224 of which published their statistics. There were a total of 24,678  regions,  286,798 registered users, and 19,496  active users on those 213 grids.

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 Korolov

Maria Korolov is a science fiction writer who covers cybersecurity, AI and extended reality as a tech journalist at her day job.
Check out her author page on Amazon or follow her on Twitter, Facebook, or LinkedIn. Her first virtual world novella, Krim Times, made the Amazon best-seller list in its category. Her second novella, The Lost King of Krim, is out now.