OpenSim year in review

Last year was a mixed year for OpenSim grids. Active users were up, but the increase was much lower than in the previous year.

The increase in registered users was also smaller, but this was mostly due to a multi-month outage on Avination, which is still down. Land area actually shrank this year, but most of that was due to a single grid shutting down a large unused land area.

Active users

The total number of active users on the public OpenSim grids rose slightly from 33,258 to 35,692 at the end of 2016.

That was a growth of 2,434 unique monthly active users, a substantial drop from 2015’s growth of 10,013 active users.

Active monthly users on public OpenSim grids. (Hypergrid Business data.)

For social grids, the biggest measure of success is the number of active users, both local residents and hypergrid visitors.

The more active users there are on a grid, the more friends people can make, the more attendees event organizers can get, and the more customers go through in-world stores.

And with hypergrid friends, groups and messaging functionality available almost universally, hypergrid visitors are starting to look and act more and more like locals.

As a result, hypergrid-enabled grids continued to dominate the charts. Out of the top 25 most active grids, 22 were hypergrid-enabled at the end of 2016, up slightly from 21 at the end of 2015.

Grids with the most growth in active users:

  1. AllCity: gained 1,077 active users
  2. Sinful Grid: gained 440 active users
  3. DigiWorldz: gained 400 active users
  4. Metropolis: gained 388 active users
  5. Genesis MetaVerse: gained 362 active users
  6. Kitely: gained 358 active users
  7. The Adult Grid: gained 322 active users
  8. Lost Paradise: gained 308 active users
  9. DreamNation: gained 296 active users
  10. 3rd Life Grid: gained 290 active users
  11. OSgrid: gained 285 active users
  12. Exo-Life: gained 253 active users
  13. Kroatan Grid: gained 207 active users
  14. Virtual ABDL Grid: gained 161 active users
  15. Craft World: gained 161 active users

I’m not including Israel-based Eureka World on this list, which gained 593 active users last year but is primarily an educational grid.

It’s interesting to note that three of the top ten gainers — AllCity, Sinful, and Genesis Metaverse — all benefited from the implosion of AviWorlds as users fled to other grids.

There have been questions raised about the AllCity stats, however, with the stats reporting page going down occasionally or not showing consistent numbers. According to grid owner Alexandre Rodrigues, there have been some problems with the API used to generate the data.

However, there are a couple of indicators that the grid has, in fact, done very well this year. AllCity, which is a Brazilian social grid, did extremely well in our annual grid survey, where it scored best overall and also received top scores in the community, content and support categories. It also has a very active Facebook page, with event videos routinely getting hundreds of views.

Registered users

Registered users are an indicator of how many new users a grid is able to sign up, and a sign of successful marketing.

Registered users on OpenSim public grids. (Hypergrid Business data.)

At first glance, the numbers don’t show an impressive picture. OpenSim grids gained just 18,822 new registered users this year, down from 80,702 in 2015.

However, Avination, one of OpenSim’s oldest grids, was down for server migration at the end of 2016. When it was last up, in June, the grid had 81,321 registered users, and 79,293 at the close of 2015.

AviWorlds was also missing from the stats last month, again due to outages. But that grid only had 1,487 registered users at the end of last year, due to the fact that it has repeatedly gone out of business and started over from scratch.

Excluding Avination and AviWorlds from the stats, the public OpenSim grids actually gained 99,002 registered users last year, which would have been a record high.

Grids that registered the most new users

  1. Kitely: gained 24,630 registered users
  2. InWorldz: gained 23,398 registered users
  3. OSgrid: gained 6,014 registered users
  4. The Adult Grid: gained 5,949 registered users
  5. Virtual Brasil: gained 5,353 registered users
  6. Island Oasis: gained 2,761 registered users
  7. Metropolis: gained 2,414 registered users
  8. Great Canadian Grid: gained 2,184 registered users
  9. DigiWorldz: gained 1,884 registered users
  10. AllCity: gained 1,427 registered users
  11. Virtual Life Brasil: gained 1,263 registered users
  12. Craft World: gained 1,046 registered users
  13. Virtual Highway: gained 1,007 registered users
  14. YrGrid: gained 790 registered users
  15. 3rd Rock Grid: gained 684 registered users

This is the first year that Kitely has registered more new users than InWorldz, though InWorldz seems to have reversed that trend this fall.

New registered users on InWorldz and Kitely. (Hypergrid Business data.)

Registered users don’t always translate to more active users since lack of support, high land prices, or lack of content may also drive users away.

Land area

Total number of regions fell from 71,360 at the end of 2015 to 66,456 at the end of 2016, due to the absence of Avination and AviWorlds in the stats due to outages.

But an even bigger land impact was that of Virtual World Grid, which had the equivalent of 19,754 regions at the end of 2015, and only 1,066 last month. Most of this land was unused scenic areas, but its sheer size made a dramatic impact on the total grid stats.

“The last few distributions of OpenSim have been leaking memory like sieves so I have had to shut down the really huge varregions that I had running which when spun up equal another 20,000 regions,” owner Myron Curtis told Hypergrid Business.

If those three grids are removed from the calculations, the total land area of all the other public OpenSim grids actually increased by the equivalent of 15,605 standard regions.

I use the term “standard region” instead of just saying “region” because many grids now group their regions into variable-sized regions. When this happens, the grids are counted as just one region by the database. Some grids also offer the total number of computed regions, or standard region equivalents, or land area calculated in square kilometers or square meters, and that is the number I use since it more accurately reflects the total land area on the grid.

Biggest land gainers:

  1. OSgrid: gained the equivalent of 6,437 standard regions
  2. Kitely: gained 4,032 regions
  3. Lost Paradise: gained 1,227 regions
  4. DigiWorldz: gained 874 regions
  5. Genesis MetaVerse: gained 757 regions
  6. Sinful Grid: gained 475 regions
  7. The Adult Grid: gained 398 regions
  8. Neverworld: gained 247 regions
  9. Virtual Life Brasil: gained 223 regions
  10. Tangle Grid: gained 191 regions
  11. AllCity: gained 148 regions
  12. YrGrid: gained 84 regions
  13. DreamNation: gained 79 regions
  14. Virtual Brasil: gained 70 regions
  15. Virtual Highway: gained 52 regions

Land gains on the largest OpenSim grids. (Hypergrid Business data.)


Births and deaths

We saw many grids fall off the charts in 2016.

Some moved to other grids. They include Clutterfly World whose owner, Linda Kellie, is now on the Metropolis grid. Loff Virtual Worlds is now part of the DigiWorldz grid, as is Kea Nation.

A total of 98 grids closed in 2016, including 2Worlds2Go, 3DHappiness, 4Addiktion Grid, 4Play, Aheilos, Auth, Avares, AvatarHaven, Avi Brasil, Avi Globe Grid, C4 OpenSimulator, CableGrid, Chaos Entertainment, CINECA GRID, CyberFace, Digital Enterprise Pathways, Draken Grid, Dream Forest, Eduland, Emerging Mind Project, Enoch, Fellowship, Flatlandia, Free World, Freedomland, Galaxylandia, GEA, Habitat7, Hiro’s PC, Home Stone Grid, HomeStoneGrid, Ingen-Lab, JJIE Virtual World, Jnix World, KOC World, Kohaku Grid, Kotori, KUNDGRID, Light Color Prim, Littlebird Grid, Loff Virtual Worlds, MajWorld, MathLife, MeetIn3D, Meridian Grid, Micachee 1, Mirage, Morpheusgrid, Mundo Virtual Brasil, Mystery, Neon Evolution, Nichtort, NurbsHouse, NZlandia,, Paradise World, PeerWorld, Pegasus, Pixel Planet, Planet Einstein, Pleasure Island, Pomroys World, Pseudospace, R5Academy, Radioactive Grid, Selea’s World, Serenity, Shadow of Your Mind, SimGrid, SimValley, Six Sides Grid, Snookums, Snow Matrix, SOlfaé, Superborea, TaylorWorld, Tertiary Grid, The Boggy Swamp, ThunderLife, Time Paradox, Traduverse, Tyland, Underground HipHop Connexion, United Kingdom, University of Cincinnati OpenSim Virtual Campus Grid, University of the Aegean, Utherworldz, VALENCIA_UVEG_LAND, VCER,  Virtual Beach Party, Virtual College of The Siskiyous, Virtual Designers World, Virtual Dream, Virtual Hispano, Virtual Life, Windring, XTR-13, Yugen World.

Many were only up briefly and barely an impact on the community. Some, however, had more than 100 active users this year, including Virtual Dream, Avi Brasil, SimValley, CyberFace, Virtual Life, Genesis, Eduland, MathLife, Avares, and JJIE Virtual World.

But 55 new grids have been born this year, including Activity Ds, AllCity, Alterworld Grid, Américas Worlds, Arrival Nation, Ascension Grid, Atlantis, AU Metaverse, Bartelbe, Binary Hills, Binders World, Calypso 3D, CyberNexus VW Grid, Digital Multiverse, Discovery Grid, Emilac, Encore Escape, EVA Park, Genesis MetaVerse, Greenworld, HD Skin World, Hypergrid Life, Icelady Grid, JadeyLand, Kaz Grid, KoolPheller Estates, Kroatan Grid, Moonglow, Moonlight Grid, My Virtual 3D Life, One More Grid, OpenSim Life, OpenSim UAb, Osirus, OwiGrid, PaderGrid, Poqpoq, Regno Di Camlaan, Second Chance, Second World, Sector 17, Servex Grid, Sinful Grid, TeCoLa, Tenebris Mysterium, Terra Virtua, The Public World, Trans Sidera, Unreal, Ventureworldz, Virtual ABDL Grid, Virtual Final World, Virtual Life EU, Watcher’s World, and Yaras Welt.

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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.

23 Responses

  1.' Da Hayward says:

    Fantastic article Maria! great reporting. Well done!

  2.' Minethereé says:

    worded wrong? “The total number of active users on the public OpenSim grids rose slightly from 33,258 to 35,692 at the end of 2016.

    That was a growth of 2,434 standard region equivalents, a substantial drop from 2015’s growth of 10,013 active users.”

  3.' Han Held says:

    98 grids closed, 55 opened…so we’re only down 43?

    •' Arielle says:

      Likely more then offset by new unreporting grids and standalones out on the dark metaverse, fueled in no small part by Fred’s Dreamworld app.
      Considering all the downtime experienced by various grids as well as pricing and policy changes foisted on residents by owners and admins of some grids, having the option of running an app which takes much of the headache out of setting up one’s own locally hosted hypergridded standalone, is a very welcome addition.

  4.' Alex Ferraris says:

    AviWorlds should start reporting next month. We are up to 35 regions now.

    See yah next month!

  5. gooooooooo digiworldz eh 😀 i think its time for digiworldz to get a Tim Horton’s /me nudges terry.

  6.' John Sheppard says:

    Pegasus grid is Pegasus Reborn, and that is being transitioned over to the ‘Dreamworldz’ os made by

    Ferd Frederix.

  7.' lmpierce says:

    “For social grids, the biggest measure of success is the number of active users, both local residents and hypergrid visitors.” I disagree with that statement as a universal proposition.

    I say that for social grids, the biggest measure of success is the quality of relationships that emerge. The metric of total active users is just a number, and yes, when that number falls too low, one might wonder if the grid is sustainable for reasons other than the success of the relationships within that grid. On the other hand, high numbers only suggest that for commerce related activities there are probably more opportunities for general sales and services. As for the quality of social experiences, those experiences are a purely qualitative metric that does not necessarily go hand-in-hand with actual population counts. It is not valid to say that with more users on a grid there are more friends one can make… what leads to friendship is qualitative, not quantitative. I do not have more friends if I go to a huge university than a community college because really there are already more people than I could ever hope to meet and know at the community college. Rather, the school itself might make a difference. For instance, if I’m an artist and I go to an art school, I may make more friends. The corollary for virtual worlds is that my choice of grid, not its population count, will probably influence whether I’m successful making friends.

    There is a tangible quality to numbers which is what fuels their appeal. To say a grid has 400 more active users is measurable… to say 200 new high-quality relationships emerged is probably impossible to measure. But that is no reason to substitute the value of one metric for another.

    And I’m not questioning the numbers themselves, as they can tell us some things. For instance, the overall popularity of virtual worlds may be seen as rising or falling. I’m only questioning the phrase, “…the biggest measure of success [for social grids] is the number of active users”. This is a proposition that ignores the value of actual relationships, which is the reason most people want to be social in the first place.

    •' Jessica Random says:

      Your analogy of colleges is slightly flawed – but I can see your logic. the problem here is that colleges always will have more “users” than many OS grids. It is true to say that more users doesn’t mean you WILL make more friends, however there is a greater “pool” to select from if there are more people.

      A grid with 20 active users where there may only be 2-3 people online at a time is going to be VERY hard to find friends as it’s quite likely you will never meet anyone! However a grid with 2000 active users where there are regular events with 30+ people attending provides a richer pool.

      Of course, with hypergrid this actually becomes less of an issue – providing the grid offers something to attract hypergrid visitors, and a closed grid with hardly anyone online really is going to provide slim pickings.

      However these are only potentials – you can be in a grid with thousands of people around you all the time and still not make any friends if these are not like minded people!

      I do however agree with Maria that this is the biggest MEASURE of success – as in it is something that can be clearly seen. It offers greater potential which may or may not translate into anything else.

      •' Linda Kellie says:

        Along those lines I have to say that I also think the users to area ratio plays a big part. If you are on a grid that has a lot of users and not a lot of regions then you are more likely to find people gathered in certain spots. But if you are on a grid that has a ton of regions compared to the number of users then you will likely find a bunch of empty regions to visit and not many people making it less likely to find friends.
        But I agree strongly that it’s easier to make friends if you find areas of like minded people. It’s why a lot of grids that are popular will probably have “communities” within their grid that users have set up. Communities such as BDSM, Furry, Art, Music etc…
        Also grids that have a big social media presents will tend to have more of a social in world presents too. Forums, G+ and other social media give people a place to meet and then in world they have a place to hang out.

        •' Jessica Random says:

          Very true Linda. I think in OS often its down to communities and making the effort to get out and find people. That is easier in larger grids with more active users – but it can be done on hypergrid too now.

          I think this is one of the differences between OS and SL. In SL you will often meet people just by doing just about anything as people are everywhere. You don’t need to make the effort to find a community (although it still helps) but in OS you wont meet people without effort.

          The social media, particularly G+ It seems to me is also very much a thing for OS communities.

          At the end of the day – its often down to the effort you put in to find people.

        •' Arielle says:

          A couple of ways that grids can successfully overcome large area to user ratio is to strongly promote a Grid group where the chatter is kept up. Both Metro and GCG use that avenue and it really helps getting to know others on the grid even before you meet them. Another way is to make the default landing area a social area rather than a Welcome Region where noone hangs out. Grid admins often overlook that and concentrate on making a pretty welcome area with links to all the resources but not a soul around for a little human contact. Lbsa plaza used to be such a place and there was a great deal of impromptu interactions as a result. After the Osgate affair, the default landing regions were changed and Lbsa became much quieter and the retention rate for new people dropped. I know for me at least that when i come to a new grid there will be a much greater chance of my returning if I land in a social area then an empty Welcome area.

          •' Justin Time says:

            I believe Ms. Kellie was drawing the picture of many people in one room vs many rooms, same number of people. Some rooms will be empty. I could be dead wrong, but that was the thought analogy I walked away with. I do not believe Ms. Kellie was soliciting ways to improve the feeling of community within a grid, but your suggestions are spot on.

          •' Linda Kellie says:

            You are on point with what my analogy was. But I made the analogy because we were talking about what makes a grid “social”. Arielle’s point about groups and welcome areas is a great one and could help balance that problem of region to user ratio. It made me smile being called Ms. Kellie It’s not often that anyone is that polite to me. 🙂

          •' Arielle says:

            Yes, I was just using Linda’s post as a jumping off place to make a point to Grid managers and admins on how to potentially overcome such a limitation, not to give Linda herself unsolicited suggestions. I should have made my intent a little clearer.

          •' Linda Kellie says:

            I agree with the welcome area thing. If the grid has people hanging out at the welcome landing area it serves to purposes. It promotes the social aspect of the grid and also “welcomes” people and helps them to get acclimated to the area. Like you, I used to love to hang out at Lbsa plaza on OSGrid. I made so many friends there. And back in 2005 and 2006 I would hang out at the Anhern welcome area. I would help new residents and most all of my friends were people that I met there.

      •' lmpierce says:

        Yes, analogies can make a point but are rarely a perfect match. Thanks… I’m glad you saw the logic I was after. There is far too much emphasis on numbers and far too little discussion of qualitative factors in judging social success… not just here but in much talk about social success anywhere.

        I would add that I fully agree with your example illustrating how the number of people online at any moment can be a factor in meeting anyone in the first place, especially in OpenSim worlds – given that the numbers are so low to begin with. Linda makes that point as well in her comment (following), pointing out that the ratio of users to area plays a big part.

        So in the end, events and concentrations of people, and realistically, a certain minimum amount of people would all seem to contribute to the potential for developing relationships in virtual worlds. As in real life, if I always go to the park when it’s empty, I’m not going to meet anyone whatsoever. There is a kind of minimum basic condition factor here.

        Coming back around to the original assertion in the article however, there is a myth that the quantity of people is THE measure of success for a social grid, which I find invalid as a singular universal metric. And from the comments here, it seems we’ve all touched on the idea of like-mindedness, as reflected in communities of shared interests, as being a more likely indicator of finding friends. And again, even that is not a mechanical equation… sometimes we make a great friend with very different interests in a very unlikely place…

  8.' Linda Kellie says:

    I think it’s weird to even mention Clutterfly as a “grid” that closed down. It was on it’s own rented server but it was basically 5 or 6 regions and we only had it up for a few months. Also it wasn’t ever open to people to make accounts.I would hardly call that an official “grid”. Also I wasn’t the owner. I was co-owner. Snik Snoodle did all the work on the server and put a lot more into it than I did. Yet somehow whenever you talk about it you only mention my name….. No matter how many times I tell you of Snik’s contribution.