Logging in to Second Life earlier this morning, I noticed in the grid status information that the number of registered users has now passed the three million mark.
The growth in numbers of people who are registering an account to use the virtual world is accelerating.
In October 2006, the number of registered users hit one million. By the end of December, just two months later, it had passed two million. Today, only a month further on, another million have joined.
A point to note is this doesn’t mean all these people are online all the time, as Second Life Insider’s Tateru Nino emphasizes:
[…] this reflects signups, not paying subscribers (approximately 55 thousand on the 24th of January), and Second Life’s retention rate at last report was 10 percent at 90 days. Indeed, many people sign up for a Second Life account and do not log in within 60 days (back of the envelope calculations based on Linden Lab’s published statistical data say around 8,500 per day sign up but don’t log in).
Still, impressive – and expected – growth.
To my mind, Neville, the 3 million number really isn’t worth getting excited about. So 2 million folks have registered in Second Life over the past three months. Well, but probably only 200,000 or so of them have actually become active users in the Second Life world. So the hype is driving people to Second Life at an increasingly fast pace, but they’re not sticking around. So, really, why keep mentioning the numbers?
What would be more impressive to me would be to see an increase to a 15 or 20 percent retention rate. That would show the that Second Life’s usability is improving.
Don’t get me wrong: I see tremendous potential in Second Life and 3D worlds in general. But Linden Lab and has some *major* work to do to create a more stable and usable environment for its residents. And until that happens, the retention rate will stay low.
Can’t agree, Bryan. I think the 3 million figure is worth getting excited about in the context of it as an indicator of rapidly increasing awareness about Second Life and, hence, interest in seeing what all the fuss is about. Some of that fuss undoubtedly is hype. Not all of it, though.
Where I do agree is regarding who’s actually using the service beyond just checking it out once or twice. Linden Lab publish stats on their site so we can get some ideas. Plus there is an awful lot of commentary out there discussing the various numbers.
This is all still largely early adopter days, in my view, so we shouldn’t really expect to see retentions at the percentages you mention. Not yet.
Maybe I’m guilty of wanting too much too fast in terms of usability, Neville? But when I see SL getting the major play that it does in the mainstream media and the big dollars that companies are sinking into Second Life, I somehow also have an expectation that it should become much easier to use and more stable — and soon.