InWorldz prospers, 3DMee closes in November

The top 40 OpenSim grids have reached 29,617 regions, an increase of 912 regions since this time last month. They also reported 319,872 total registered users and 19,527 active users this month, a total of 3,675 new registered users and 1,052 new active users.

All three numbers were record highs for OpenSim.

Region counts on the 40 largest public OpenSim grids.
Region counts on the 40 largest public OpenSim grids.

Kitely, a cloud-based, on-demand grid, gained the most regions, growing by 263, followed by the non-profit open grid OSgrid, with 230 new regions. Metropolis gained 199 regions, and the troubled AviWorlds grid gained 122. Other grids gained 50 regions or less.

There were 289 grids active at least some of the time over the past month, 216 of which reported statistics. There were a total of 31,960 regions, 336,634 registered users and 22,353 active users on those 216 grids.

Meanwhile, of the 279 currently active public OpenSim grids, 219 reported their statistics this month, and their land area adds up to a total of 30,988 regions.

This count does not include private grids, such as grids run behind school firewalls, or grids set up to run large corporate simulations, or the nearly 7,000 regions running on personal New World Studio installations.

The top 40 OpenSim grids now have 3,178 more regions than Second Life, and all 216 grids put together have 5,521 more regions.

OpenSim has an edge over Second Life when it comes to land because individuals can set up regions for free, or rent regions from a number of vendors competing on both price and service at about a tenth the price of similar Second Life regions.

Total regions on the public OpenSim grids and in Second Life.
Total regions on the public OpenSim grids and in Second Life.

However, as can be seen from the active user numbers, OpenSim still isn’t a match for Second Life in terms of the absolute size of community.

Linden Lab stopped reporting active users a few years ago, but projecting out based on Grid Survey’s concurrency numbers, there are around 800,000 active monthly users now in Second Life — 36 times more active people than in OpenSim.

As a result, people coming to OpenSim either bring their own communities with them — such as schools and role playing groups — or don’t need communities, such as independent builders and creators.

Popularity

For company and school grids, relative 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 or that serve a special purpose not found elsewhere.

But when it comes to general-purpose social grids, the rule of thumb 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 are the 10 most popular grids this month:

InWorldz was the big gainer this month, with 1,028 more active users than a month ago, dwarfing the gains on all other grids.

According to InWorldz co-founder and CTO David Daeschler, the increase could be attributed to a number of factors, such as the launch of full LSL vehicle support on top of the grid’s existing Nvidia PhysX-based physics, the launch of the Zephyr wind module offering realistic wind direction and speed, all capped off by a Relay for Life event which raised around $1,600 for the cancer charity.

The hypergrid-enabled Spanish-language MitaKa grid — at 44 regions, too small to make our 40 largest grids list or our most popular list — gained 116 new users, for a total of 174 active users this month. Another big gainer was Kitely, with 110 new users, followed by 73 new users on Metropolis. Another small grid, Islands of Enlightenment, an educational grid serving students in western New York state, gained 66 new active users, for a new total of 73 actives.

The biggest losers this month were Island Oasis, which fell by 150 active users, and OSgrid, which lost 98 actives.

News from around the grids

There was a lot of turmoil on the grids this month, with new grids popping up and old ones disappearing.

The troubled AviWorlds grid looked like it was out for the count — again — with controversial owner Alex Ferraris emailing grid residents that he had tried and tried, and failed for the last time, and had nothing left in him to try again. Then, a couple of days letter, a follow-up email said that he was just dealing with some personal issues, and making some administrative changes and not closing the grid after all.

Meanwhile, two weeks ago, in a comment on Hypergrid Business, AviWorlds founder Alex Ferraris said that hypergrid connectivity will be turned off, residents will no longer be able to connect self-hosted regions, and content-stealing “copybot” viewers will be banned from the grid. Then, earlier this week, Ferraris announced that hypergrid connectivity will be turned back on.

Despite the turmoil — or perhaps because of it — the grid continues to attract users and region renters. Most recently, Mike Hart of Pro Racer fame has brought automobile racing to the grid, in the form of a 16-region motorsports complex.

One grid that has definitely shutting down is 3DMee, which posted an announcement on the members-only area of its website that it is closing as of November 18.

“It’s been a tremendous effort and stellar fun, too,” a grid admin posted earlier this month. “But this doesn’t mean we won’t be back with something different or better in the future. Who knows?”

The grid will be refunding the balance of region rental fees for any regions paid up past the closing date.

3DMee was run by Taiwan-based 3DX, a virtual world development company run by Steve Sima, also known as Sakai OpenLife. The company is best-known for its OpenLife Grid, founded in 2007. OpenLife became 3DMee in September of 2011.

Commuinity Island on 3DMee by Danko Whitfield
Community Island region on 3DMee grid. (Image courtesy Danko Whitfield.)

There was no word as to whether current users will be able to export either their regions or their inventories before the grid closes.

Typically, when commercial grids close, much of the content is lost unless users save it one individual item at a time. Commercial grids usually do not allow OAR region exports or IAR inventory exports in order to attract merchants worried about content protection.

Another major grid which may also be going down is Virtyou, based in the Netherlands. We’ve been tracking the grid since 2009, making it one of the oldest grids on the hypergrid. Last month, it had 110 regions and just eight active users — down from a peak of nearly 200 active users at the end of 2011. Both the website and its loginURI are down, and they haven’t been responding to emails.

Dutch-speaking OpenSim users have other grids to choose from, however, including DWGridRaWHiDeBubbleszThoMaxGridSimValleyOpenSim.nlEduGrid NL, and 3DLES. The last four are part of a Dutch educational collaborative project and are hosted by Business Aspire.

Another grid with a troubled history which may, or may not, be closing is SpotOn3D. The grid is best known for a browser plugin which puts a standard OpenSim viewer into a webpage, making it slightly more user-friendly. The plugin is part of the grid’s portfolio of patents, which has been a source of significant controversy. The Facebook group hasn’t been updated since September, the Twitter feed looks like it’s been hijacked by a spammer for the past month, emails have been bouncing, the grid has been mostly down, and people who were able to log in report a “ghost town.”

One quick way to check whether a grid is down is to type its loginURI into a browser followed by “/get_grid_info”. For example, here is InWorldz’ info page: inworldz.com:8002/get_grid_info — the SpotON3D info page at spoton3d.com:8002/get_grid_info exists, but has no information. Grids that are completely closed have no grid info page at all, however. The grid may be having temporary server problems or DNS issues, which it had before, and which any grid or website can experience from time to time. But the lack of information on the grid’s social media sites is worrisome, as is the status of its pending patents.

On a more positive note, the science fiction-themed UFSGrid has launched a new social platform connected to an in-world HUD.

The commercial social grid Virtual Highway is opening its vintage-themed Boardwalk region on November 24, and its winter holiday regions on December 1. The Boardwalk region includes a ballroom, a shopping area, a carnival and a treasure hunt and the winter holiday regions will have a lodge, skiing and ice skating, a dance floor, a toboggan run, a shopping district and a snowman building contest with cash prizes and holiday gifts.

Boardwalk region on the Virtual Highway grid. (Image courtesy Virtual Highway.)
Boardwalk region on the Virtual Highway grid. (Image courtesy Virtual Highway.)

Spellscape, a commercial grid focusing on witchcraft and wizardry, migrated from AuroraSim to standard OpenSim, its grid managed told Hypergrid Business, with a down time of just 12 hours.

Kitely is still getting ready to upgrade to the latest version of OpenSim, version 0.7.6, so hasn’t started working on hypergrid delivery of marketplace items yet, or hypergrid teleports to other grids. However, Kitely Market continues to grow, CEO Ilan Tochner told Hypergrid Business, with a total of 2,500 product variations now listed, up from 1,700 this time last month, an increase of 47 percent. The number of transactions and merchants is also up, he said.

Transitions

We’re listing 13 grids as suspended this month because we haven’t been able to get to their grid info pages or websites this month, including ChatCafe3D, EnglishGrid, Homeland3D, Laboratorio GIAA, Realms of Eorith, Roleplay Grid, SpotOn 3D, Tamerlane Grid, VIBE: SCRATCH, Virtual Reality, Virtual Ryukyu, Wonda Worldz, and World-DC.

Meanwhile, we’ve added several new grids to our database, including UFGQ GridVirtual ClubGangster WarsGerman LifeMajickal LifeThe Hidden Continent of ChaxezPlanet EinsteinArdaliaGorgeys GridEvans Virtual WorldMiguelinuxNeuWaldB-ATMLost WorldZetaWorlds, and Dankoville.

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 stats page for the Diva Distro, a user-friendly distribution of OpenSim, reported 803 downloads this month, for a grand total of over 27,000 downloads since the distribution was first released in May of 2011.

Sim-on-a-Stick, a packaged version of the Diva Distro, was downloaded 943 times this month, for over 24,000 downloads total since the distribution was first released in May 2011.

Both the Diva Distro and Sim-on-a-Stick were recently updated to OpenSim version 0.7.6, which offers increased performance, out-of-the-box support for groups and offline messages, better teleports, a few new scripting commands, and support for a new export permission.

The New World Studio, which allows people to set up private grids in just a few clicks with a fully automated installer, recently began publishing its usage statistics. As of today, it reports 8,617  regions on 1,689 different active grids running on this distribution of OpenSim. That’s an increase of 1,632 new regions, and 159 new grids.

Meanwhile, according to data from The Hypergates, the number of hypergate jumps on their network this month fell slightly to 2,813. The system now has 757  registered hypergates, up by 45 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.

Meanwhile, Second Life continued to lose land, according to data from GridSurvey, with 131 fewer regions today than the same time last month. The Second Life grid now has 26,661 regions total, down 1,977 regions from this time last year, and 5,224 fewer regions than its peak in June of 2010. According to GridSurvey, the last time the grid was this small was in May of 2009.

November 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 744 different publicly-accessible grids, 289 of which were active this month, and 216 of which published their statistics. There were a total of 30,988 regions, 338,424 registered users, and 21,189 active users on those 216 grids.

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

The raw data for this month’s report is here. A 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.

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