The Second Life economy remained stable in the second quarter of 2010, despite one-time events that affected a number of metrics. The most notable economic event of the second quarter was a temporary decrease in the exchange rate of the L$ vs. the US dollar in mid-June that has since returned to typical levels. Our research in the weeks since this occurred indicates this change was due in large part to our merge of Residents’ inworld and XStreetSL L$ balances.This had the temporary effect of reducing L$ purchase volume as Residents lowered the total amount of L$’s they were holding because they now had one combined account. Previously, Residents held a higher combined L$ balance in two separate accounts and purchased L$’s more frequently when they were keeping a minimum balance in each. You can read more details in our quarterly economic spotlight post.
Changes in Reporting
From time to time we will change our reporting in order to provide the most relevant and accurate summary information for the use of merchants, landowners, content creators, and other participants in the Second Life economy. Our goal is to provide those who participate in the economy and run inworld businesses with the data they need to make informed business decisions. We are making a change from the recent past by reducing the relatively large set of metrics we have provided--many where causality is complex or unclear--and we will instead provide a more focused data set with a briefer description about each quarter’s activity. We believe the indicators below are the key items to focus on, and we are adding a page describing the content and methodology behind each figure.
In addition, we will be phasing out the data feeds at http://secondlife.com/statistics/economy-data.php. We’ll have more updates on this shortly, but because this data currently bears little relationship to the health or strength of the Second Life economy, we feel it’s appropriate to discontinue these feeds.
At least for the time being, one figure we will no longer publish in our historical charts is the Resident-to-Resident transaction data. As we’ve analyzed this data we believe that it is not as accurate a measure of the inworld economy as we would like. We are currently working to develop a more accurate metric with which to replace this number. For the near term, we will continue to publish a comparable Resident-to-Resident transaction figure for historical comparison. In Q2 2010, Resident-to-Resident transactions totalled approximately L$40 billion, or US$152 million.
RESIDENT USAGE INDICATORS
MONTHLY REPEAT LOGINS
Monthly Repeat Logins indicated improved retention and engagement over recent quarters:
- Q2 2010 averaged 805 thousand monthly repeat logins, a rise of 8.6 percent vs. the Q2 2009 average of 742 thousand.
- Levels are flat with Q1 2010.
User Hours were slightly lower, at 108 million for the quarter.
- The Q2 2009 User Hours figure of 126 million includes substantial usage attributable to “bots” and other scripted agents. Bot policy changes took place in mid-Q2 2009, making it difficult to make accurate comparisons with the year-ago period.
- User Hours in Q1 2010 totaled 116 million.
MONTHLY ECONOMIC PARTICIPANTS
Monthly Economic Participants (those accounts that receive or distribute L$ in a given month) are the most active and engaged participants in Second Life and the economy. Economic participation in the second quarter, on average, was flat against the previous quarter, and rose against the same period a year ago.
LINDEN DOLLAR RATES AND RELATED METRICS
The average Linden dollar exchange rate moved from approximately L$261 per US dollar at the beginning of the quarter, to just under L$269 per US$ at the end and fluctuated across a larger range for two weeks during June (see second chart below), as we noted at the time. Average exchange rates, however, remain largely unchanged. As noted above, our research indicates this change was due to our merge of Residents’ inworld and XStreet SL L$ balances and temporary market uncertainty immediately after the announcements of our restructuring and changes in senior management. Read more details in our quarterly economic spotlight post.
We are also improving and changing how we report the L$ Supply figure with this quarter’s post. Previously, this metric did not include individual XStreet SL account balances, and misclassified some administrative accounts as Resident accounts. For this quarter we have updated the calculation to include only Resident accounts, and have summed their balances across both XStreet SL and inworld. This number now more accurately represents the total purchasing power of all Residents in Second Life. Note that we have shown both calculation methods in the charts.
- L$ Supply in Q2 was US$25.9 million vs US$26.2 in Q1
Historically, LindeX volume has been very stable, and the slight decline from Q1 is within past ranges. This metric is traditionally less volatile than many other indicators we report, and we expect this behavior to continue.
- LindeX trading volume of US$29.4 million in Q2 2010 was up slightly against the year-ago Q2 volume of US$29.1 million, but off from Q1’s US$30.7 million
XSTREET SL MERCHANDISE SALES VOLUME
Q2 2010 saw 39% growth in sales over Q1 2010 and 124% growth over the same quarter a year earlier. The primary driver of this growth was the merging of users’ Xstreet SL and Second Life Linden dollar balances. This simplified the purchase process on Xstreet, producing an immediate jump in sales volume. In addition to the benefits of the balance merge, we continue to show healthy growth from the acquisition of new users paired with the development of new creative products from our merchants. Q2 continued the trend of setting record sales volume and this quarter in particular contained an important milestone, as Xstreet SL had it’s first month with over US$1 million worth of sales.
World Size grew to 2,110 square kilometers at the end of Q2, from 2,070 at the end of the previous quarter, and 1,900 for the year-ago period. Private regions accounted for the largest portion of inworld land (44 percent), and private homesteads the next largest (36 percent). Mainland regions accounted for 19 percent of the total inworld land mass.