Infrastructure // PC & Servers
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7/10/2007
05:14 PM
Mitch Wagner
Mitch Wagner
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Second Life Growth Slowing Down

Second Life is still growing -- it's just growing at a slower rate than it was. Total signups grew at a rate of 12.6% in June, down from 15% in May. Growth in premium accounts -- accounts people pay to use -- was 5.3%, down from 8.1% in May. Is this a temporary lull? Or a sign of coming doom?

Second Life is still growing -- it's just growing at a slower rate than it was. Total signups grew at a rate of 12.6% in June, down from 15% in May. Growth in premium accounts -- accounts people pay to use -- was 5.3%, down from 8.1% in May. Is this a temporary lull? Or a sign of coming doom?

There are several possible interpretations for these statistics. The optimistic interpretation: Second Life grew at an unnatural rate in 2006 and early this year, fueled by hype and a whole lot of unrealistic expectations. Growth is stabilizing now to a more reasonable level, and will ramp up again when the service becomes more stable and usable.

The pessimistic interpretation: As they say on Fark, "EVERYBODY PANIC!!!!"

Figures are from an analysis by Second Life Insider of statistics released today by Linden Lab.

To improve growth, Second Life needs better orientation. Users need to be brought in to the service and be led by the hand to interesting activities right away. It's just too hard, at first, to find fun things to do. New users who abandon the service complain the world is empty, and there's nothing to do but cybersex, gambling, and playing adolescent pranks. (Those activities are a small minority of what goes on in Second Life, but they're the easiest activities to find.)

Fortunately, Linden Lab is working on this problem. They're starting to outsource registration and orientation services to other companies, who can target orientation services to new users' particular interests. If you're a sports fan, sign up at NBA.com. If you're a fan of the TV show The L Word, sign up at the island Showtime has set up for fans of that show. There'll be more of those kinds of targeted orientation areas in the future.

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