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Second Life End-of-Year Update: Wrapping Up 2018. What’s Next for 2019?

Linden Lab

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As 2018 comes to a close, it’s time to look back at some of the key accomplishments and new feature highlights that helped to make it one of the best years ever for the Second Life community.

Celebrating 15 Years. Here’s to 15 More!
Second Life recently turned 15 and, to mark the occasion, the community held a jam-packed SL15B celebration across several crystal-themed sims. In addition, Linden Lab organized several birthday events including MusicFest and an ambitious Shopping Event. Relive the highlights in the SL15B Flickr feed.  So…  is anyone ready for SL16B yet?

 

Lower Costs & More Land? That’s Crazy Talk!
What a way to start the year! Early in 2018, we announced a 10 percent reduction in Mainland costs and doubled the Mainland allotment for Premium members. Then, in July we continued to reduce costs by lowering monthly maintenance fees on Private Estates by up to 15% with one-time land setup fees reduced by as much as 41%.  As a result, land is now more affordable than ever!

 

Performance & New Features
As part of our commitment to improving Second Life, we announced plans for 15 enhancements and features on our product road-map. Many of these improvements are already in place or are close to completion, while work continues to perfect additional enhancements and features for 2019.

We’ve started making significant improvements to Marketplace including the introduction of many long-requested features, such as wishlists and tracking your favorite sellers (with a feed of their most recent items).  We also added more categories to the Marketplace: Animated Objects, Gachas, Anthropomorphic, and a dedicated anime community, too.

Estate Owners also saw improvements to the Land Manager page including web-based region restarts. There is also an Estate Access Management Release Candidate Viewer, which simplifies many Estate Management tasks, including ban list improvements.  It will be making its way to the default release soon.

Speaking of land … there is the overhaul for Auctions with several key improvements and a serious facelift - and we’ll soon add the ability for Residents to create Auctions to sell the land that they own.

In November, we unveiled the long-anticipated debut of Animesh, which allows independent objects to use rigged mesh and animations. We’re already starting to see some creative ways to take advantage of Animesh.  This new “dancing Santa” from Blow Up is an Animesh companion, which can follow you around and even dance with you as you celebrate the holidays in Second Life. Or for you. Santa is cool with whatever.


Image from Gyazo

A few Creators have already put out quite a number of cool early creations. Check out the Animated Objects category on the Second Life Marketplace to see what’s available.

We are always striving to help our Residents achieve an immersive experience.  The Environment Enhancement Project (EEP), is a series of new customizations in the environment rendering system (also known as Windlight). Soon, you will be able to create and share even more advanced environment settings including up to four different sky layers which can be set independently. Check out this preview video that shows early testing on the Second Life Beta grid from Resident Silas Merlin:  

Testing also continues for Bakes on Mesh, a new feature that allows system avatar baked textures to be shown on mesh attachments.  We’re hoping this will help us all ditch some of those avatar onion layers in the new year.


New Experiences & Activities
Fans of Linden Realms new and old saw not one, but two updates in 2018.  A limited-time and dramatic update Linden Realms: The Wrath of Ruth soon gave way to its full-featured successor Linden Realms: The Search for Magellan.

We also introduced the new Swaginator with two ambitious seek-and-find events. As part of our SL15B event, we created 15 limited-edition gifts for a Birthday Gift Grab grid-wide hunt that extended over a whopping 15 weeks! More recently, we held the Winter Swaginator Hunt which included five hidden gifts created exclusively for holiday hunters. There were also numerous exclusive shopping and community events, which are always a blast!  Look out for the traditional Snowball Fight.


2018 In Numbers
As the year comes to a close, we’ve rounded up some interesting statistics to share insight into how the Second Life community is spending its time and money.

One thing is clear: Second Lifers were a busy bunch in 2018.   You spent an estimated 336 million hours inworld in the past year alone!  And there are 50 million+ chat messages daily.

Our daily concurrency rates remain stable, too. Take a look at this chart, which shows the overall traffic trends on logged in Second Life users over the past two years.

 

chart-1.png

Pictured: Second Life concurrency rates from early 2017 to late 2018.

 

This active population helped keep the Second Life economy healthy in 2018. Approximately $65 million was paid out to Residents in the past year for a variety of items and services. On the Marketplace, there are currently over 5 million virtual goods for sale. Since we lowered prices on the Mainland and maintenance fees on Private Estates, we’ve seen some growth in the overall land market as well. For example, we saw increases across the board in land ownership - more Region owners, more parcel owners, more group-owned land, more Regions on the Grid. As many owners traded up from Openspaces and Homesteads to full Regions to take full advantage of the lower pricing, we saw growth in overall SQM owned by Residents.

So, what was popular with the Second Life community in 2018? Here are some interesting insights into General and Mature-rated places and items:

TOP MARKETPLACE CATEGORIES 2018 (by Web Traffic)
1. Apparel (General)
2. Women's Apparel
3. Avatar Accessories
4. Home & Garden
5. Complete Avatars
6. Avatar Components
7. Avatar Appearance
8. Animations
9. Buildings & Other Structures
10. Men's Apparel

TOP DESTINATION GUIDE CATEGORIES (by Web Traffic)

1. Games
2. Editor's Picks
3. Recently Added
4. Premium Gifts
5. Photogenic Spots
6. Shopping Events
7. Adventure & Fantasy
8. Featured Events
9. Freebie Spots
10. Role-playing Communities


2019...Here We Come!
In true Linden tradition, we didn’t get through everything we wanted to do in 2018 … but we certainly feel proud of the developments already out and we’re excited for the things to come. Stay tuned for even more improvements, including progress on our migration to the cloud, Linden Home updates, Gridwide experiences, and the much-anticipated ability to change your name!

Thank you from the entire Linden Lab staff for your continued creativity and contributions to the Second Life community. We cherish the opportunity to help this unique and amazing world flourish year to year, and we can’t wait to see what adventures await in 2019!

We wish everyone happy holidays and a wonderful New Year!

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