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A thing I have been seeing for quite a while now is the question of "Is Second Life dying?", or statements that outright state it is.
I am a researcher into a lot of Second Life related things. Be it from studying the protocol to better document it, to archiving historical content, to looking deeper into the Grid status to see what is normally unseen.

Today, I bring my research to the public for a informative look into the question "Is Second Life dying?".

I'm going to divide this research into three key parts:

  1. Concurrent residents
  2. Region/Grid growth
  3. New resident sign-up rate
  4. My poor understanding economy
  5. Summary

1. Concurrent residents

Firstly, the statement that Second Life doesn't have as many people as it used to.
After scraping historical data from web.archive.org, as well as my personal database:

Apr 2007 19,005
Apr 2008 34,685
Mar 2009 68,710
Jul 2010 42,990
Aug 2011 33,628
May 2012 36,854
Aug 2013 32,974
May 2014 38,056
May 2015 39,336
Jul 2016 39,031
Jul 2017 31,930
Nov 2018 45,301
Mar 2019 44,854
Jan 2020 34,133
Feb 2020 50,936

Just yesterday we had 50,936(Feb 2020) concurrent residents! Within the past year, the max concurrent residents we have seen is 54,336, which is nearly comparable to March 2009's 68,700 residents. This isn't counting individual logins, which is likely a lot higher. I say we have had around the same amount of people as we have always had.

NOTE: Data from <2017 are before I was recording it myself, and was gathered from web.archive.org. As such, this isn't the peak data, but data gathered from when their web crawlers ran. Second Life sees less people during EU/Asia hours, and more people during American hours.

2. Region/Grid growth

Now let's take a look at the Grid, which I think serves as a great look into the health of Second Life.
The grid is indeed growing, which I feel means resident's are trusting in Second Life enough to invest into private regions. This means the region appearance to disappearance ratio is in favour of appearance.
Don't just take my word for it, here is a (big and poorly made(I am a computer scientist, not layout artist)) gif of the public region zone of the grid(You can even see the addition of Bellisseria!):

agni-2018-09-07-to-2020-03-01_cropped.gif.06c25488df572318f9a775e51dad04fa.gif

Full images are here (CAUTION: These images are 2048x2048 in size):

Color key:

  Region   Restricted
  Available   Bordered
  Cart   Bulk
  Reservation   Missing Data

Please note this data is gathered using a very rudimentary and unintended way. Color key may be incorrect for some or a lot of regions. (EG: Regions showing as cart entries, or missing data appearing in some grid tiles). A region doesn't guarantee it to be online, it simply means "A region exists here and hasn't been deleted"(Deleted meaning, someone stopped paying for it and LL has no reason to keep it around in the dataserver). Typically they exist and are set to be online, but some regions(EG: Ajax Arena) are set to not come online. This also shows regions that are not publicly accessible.
This also only has from 0, 0 to 2048, 2048 in region coordinates(The grid is 65535 by 65535 in region coordinates!), which appears to be the area of the grid that is used. Unless LL is willing to give me a copy of the data, researching past there will take a whole day of data mining and strain on the servers.

3. New resident sign-up rate

As for new resident sign-up rate. It is still quite high!
Just within the past 24 hours of making this post, the average sign-ups per hour is 544 (Rounded). While yes, some of these are probably bots, I still see tons of people in new resident landing spots who actually go through the tutorial instead of teleporting out, which tells me there is still a lot of interest in Second Life!

My reasoning behind this is: New residents will actually go through the tutorial, where as people registering alts or bots will simply teleport out to skip the tutorial.

4. My poor understanding economy

Finally, I would go into economy, but I am not a economist, I am a computer scientist. I don't have enough knowledge on economy to make a decision on whether or not Second Life's economy is doing good. With that said, read the next line under the assumption I have no clue what I am talking about.
If I had to take a guess, I'd say MAYBE it could be doing better. I've seen L$ to USD ratio going up, but I've also seen times where it goes down. I'd suspect the economy will correct it's self and prices for stuff will go up in L$, but will remain the same for USD.

5. In summary

Second Life most isn't dead, and it most certainly isn't dying. If anything, I'd say it is thriving.

We are seeing new regions and residents, as well as plentiful concurrent users.

I hope this clears any concerns that "Second Life is dying". It may not have as much media coverage as it did back during the times of IBM, CNET, The Office, or CSI, but the resident base is still here and is growing.

 

Footnotes

All my statistics are publicly available. If someone wishes to have a copy of this, please let me know in-world and I'll give you a copy of the raw data. As for those asking why I obsess over data collection, autism/aspergers lol.

You can view my recorded/public statistics at https://agni.softhyena.com/stats. View the page source for API information. Region statistics is very very big, and because of this, it will kill my measly 100KiB/s upload rate. Please ask for a link and I'll give it to you.

The data, while gathered by me for research purposes, is copyright to Linden Lab. Please properly attribute them when using it.

Edited by Chaser Zaks
1. Tablified the concurrent resident count; 2. More markdown to html; 3. Color key notes, research limitations; 4. More grid map information; 5. Grammar, concurrent resident disclaimer.
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A thing I have been seeing for quite a while now is the question of "Is Second Life dying?", or statements that outright state it is. I am a researcher into a lot of Second Life related things. Be i

Someone called me to this thread     I've been collecting Grid Concurrency Stats every 5 minutes for the past 10 years ( with a couple of breaks of up to 4 weeks)  Concurrency is fallin

Well, if the DPW are planning on expanding Belissiera for the coming 2 years because the Linden Homes are all gobbled up the instant they release a new region, I'd think LL aren't doing too bad.

Posted Images

Thank you for this. [Moderator Edit: Derogatory Comments Removed]

How did you get June 2020 concurrency numbers?

Edited by Dakota Linden
[Moderator Edit: Derogatory Comments Removed]
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Posted (edited)
17 minutes ago, janetosilio said:

How did you get June 2020 concurrency numbers?

Because I am the big dumb and always mess up the dates. For some reason my brain likes writing June instead of the correct date. I've went over and verified the dates are correct now!

Edited by Chaser Zaks
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59 minutes ago, Chaser Zaks said:

I don't have enough knowledge on economy to make a decision on whether or not Second Life's economy is doing good.

   Well, if the DPW are planning on expanding Belissiera for the coming 2 years because the Linden Homes are all gobbled up the instant they release a new region, I'd think LL aren't doing too bad.

   As far as the L$ value, yeah it goes up and down, but it's currently at roughly L$270 to the USD, which is what they said it was in an article from .. Several years ago (can't remember when, or what article it was), I'd say that's pretty stable. Considering many virtual currencies inflate fairly quickly, I think that the stability of the L$ is quite impressive.

   ... But I'm no economist either. Seeing LL investing the kind of time and resources into such projects though, and how successful they appear to be, I'd think is a good sign.

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Chaser, I can't interpret your map.  What the heck are all those vertical orange bars at the top? 

Even though I can't follow all your arguments, I am not sure of your data.  Daniel Voyager has been re-posting the GridSurvey data at least annually, until GridSurvey stopped publishing it.  Up until then...about 2017...the number of SL regions had shown a slow, steady decline.  This was almost entirely in private regions, since LL never deletes Mainland once they've created it...so the relative mix of private vs. Mainland regions was changing over time.  Six or seven years back, about 3/4 of the grid was private regions.  Now it's about 2/3.

Concurrency:  As you note, when you take a snapshot has a lot to do with your results.  There was a time, back in about 2007-08, when we were seeing peak concurrencies of up to 75K...and the servers were breaking down quite frequently under the load.  Of course, how many of those "concurrent users" were traffic bots is open to debate!

My gut feeling is that SL isn't doing badly.  If it is shrinking, or expanding, I can't really tell.  Certainly there are many more products in the MP, and there are lots of new residents arriving every day, and LL is making Linden Home regions as fast as the Moles can dig.  On the other hand, I see a lot of Mainland for sale, and vacancies on private regions.  Even as popular a place as Caledon has decreased in size from almost 40 regions to around 25.

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21 minutes ago, Lindal Kidd said:

until GridSurvey stopped publishing it.

Tyche still publishes what data she does have on VVO. There is a thread dedicated for that. She's had that tread all the way back into the earlier days of the second coming of SLU.

https://www.virtualverse.one/forums/threads/new-sl-regions-in-the-past-week.189/

 

ETA: Correction. It appears Tyche has stopped posting in the thread.

https://www.virtualverse.one/forums/threads/new-sl-regions-in-the-past-week.189/page-5#post-81457

 

ETA2: oops Nope. She's still posting. Most recently: https://www.virtualverse.one/forums/threads/new-sl-regions-in-the-past-week.189/page-5#post-86654

Edited by Selene Gregoire
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45 minutes ago, Lindal Kidd said:

Chaser, I can't interpret your map.  What the heck are all those vertical orange bars at the top? 

Even though I can't follow all your arguments, I am not sure of your data.  Daniel Voyager has been re-posting the GridSurvey data at least annually, until GridSurvey stopped publishing it.  Up until then...about 2017...the number of SL regions had shown a slow, steady decline.  This was almost entirely in private regions, since LL never deletes Mainland once they've created it...so the relative mix of private vs. Mainland regions was changing over time.  Six or seven years back, about 3/4 of the grid was private regions.  Now it's about 2/3.

Concurrency:  As you note, when you take a snapshot has a lot to do with your results.  There was a time, back in about 2007-08, when we were seeing peak concurrencies of up to 75K...and the servers were breaking down quite frequently under the load.  Of course, how many of those "concurrent users" were traffic bots is open to debate!

My gut feeling is that SL isn't doing badly.  If it is shrinking, or expanding, I can't really tell.  Certainly there are many more products in the MP, and there are lots of new residents arriving every day, and LL is making Linden Home regions as fast as the Moles can dig.  On the other hand, I see a lot of Mainland for sale, and vacancies on private regions.  Even as popular a place as Caledon has decreased in size from almost 40 regions to around 25.

The vertical orange bars are the result of the method LL uses to "suggest" a region position. I don't know the code behind it but it seems to like to place regions in corn rows for some reason(CONSPIRACY THEORY: The grid is the corn field!).

The yellow is actually a mix of the following tile types: region, bordered, cart.

Region tiles are where regions exist. Bordered are restricted tiles used to prevent people from joining their region to someone else's without permission. Cart is (supposed to be) tiles that are in someone's cart, but appear to sometimes show up instead of region tiles(unless my script goofed).

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11 minutes ago, Gadget Portal said:

But how many of that 50k are bots/alts?

Alts are people too.  😉  If Alts spend money or others spend money on them, then alts do indeed help the SL economy.  Bots, on the other hand, should be "registered" as "scripted agents" on their account pages.  Hmm...  I think "scripted agents" still count in concurrency statistics but not parcel traffic statistics.  I won't assume they help the economy directly but MAYBE some are tools used to help others help the economy by helping themselves manage land and stores.

That said, I am not here to start any arguments and, yes, I suspect MOST bots are wasting resources.  I see hundreds a day bounce off of a parcel near where I hang out.  The land owner there subscribes to a service that kicks them out for her.  I see a lot of bots or alts 'soaking' in the water regions around the grid.  Sometimes I'll visit a pile and poke them a little.  It's funny when they teleport away after I do that.  Once in a while one will start chatting with me but that is rare.

Many SL residents have "upgraded" alts to Premium to house-hunt Linden Homes.  Some might find that alarming in some way but from my point of view I see more money going to support Second Life!

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Posted (edited)
24 minutes ago, janetosilio said:

You weren’t being made fun of. You did a fantastic job of showing data and taking the time to interpret it. I’m not sure about the graph though! But everything else made perfect sense, if you could explain what exactly it is. Are you showing that more private land is being added?

I didn’t think the aspie thing would be taken that way, since it’s an affectionate term. I wasn’t even being serious about the lisp thing...I thought that was pretty easy to see, since I thought the response to me, was humorous. If not, I do apologize if it offended anyone.

Glad to know that! Most humor goes over my head, and I am unsure when people are trying to be offensive or not. I also typically don't get offended easily, so even if I was supposed to be offended, I'd just be "??? im confused". So from my view, "No harm, no foul"!

As for the map, yes, I am seeing what looks to be more private land being added to the grid. NOW I could be wrong, but I am almost certain it more land being added. I can do make a script to do aggressive number crunching, but from visual inspection and word count testing(I just count instances of "region" in the result files), I'd say there are more private regions than there were in 2018.

Edited by Chaser Zaks
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About the growth of regions: The cost of land decreased (when? two years ago maybe?) in a series of steps by the Lab, most notably doubling the amount of premium "bonus tier" from 512 to 1024 sq.m. Those steps very definitely increased the amount of Linden Homes (Belliseria) and owned Mainland, although there are now many regions-worth of abandoned old-style Linden Homes. That's two observations rolled into one:

  1. The total number of regions on the grid may include more abandoned land now, with the Linden Homes continents in flux, than it did before, despite the uptake in Mainland ownership.
  2. "Cheaper to own" land means it takes more area to satisfy the same monetary demand for land, so growth in land area doesn't imply quite a corresponding growth in "health" as the term is probably meant.

Also, I'm super skeptical that there's anything to be learned from the LindeX exchange rate. It's just way too steady to be the kind of "open market" the Lab keeps trying to say it is. Every few years something goes haywire and the market jumps around for a week or so, but generally the rate very gradually moves one way or another and then stays there practically frozen for years at a stretch. This suggests to me that the L$ "sinks" (such as Marketplace fees) are enormous compared to "sources" (such as stipends), and the Lab routinely sells sizable lots of fresh L$s to replenish the money supply. And because they decide the rate at which they make those sales, if it's L$270/USD (or whatever it is now), I'm pretty confident that's because the Lab wants it to be L$270/USD.

The Lab used to publish very extensive data about the in-world economy. That was years ago, I think before they even owned the Marketplace, so those old data really wouldn't be representative of the current economy. For folks interested in these things, it's really sad that they quit making it public. (Of course, regardless of the numbers, somebody would use them to "prove" SL was dead every quarter.)

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5 minutes ago, Qie Niangao said:

About the growth of regions: The cost of land decreased (when? two years ago maybe?) in a series of steps by the Lab, most notably doubling the amount of premium "bonus tier" from 512 to 1024 sq.m. Those steps very definitely increased the amount of Linden Homes (Belliseria) and owned Mainland, although there are now many regions-worth of abandoned old-style Linden Homes. That's two observations rolled into one:

  1. The total number of regions on the grid may include more abandoned land now, with the Linden Homes continents in flux, than it did before, despite the uptake in Mainland ownership.
  2. "Cheaper to own" land means it takes more area to satisfy the same monetary demand for land, so growth in land area doesn't imply quite a corresponding growth in "health" as the term is probably meant.

I think what he was trying to show was LL is adding private regions/islands. That would imply that someone is paying for them and the demand is there. 
 

I’m a filthy mainland owner and a 4096 is plenty for me, so I don’t know much about private land. But wouldn’t they just resell abandoned private land rather than create new parcels? Meaning, to me, that they’re doing that and there is still a need to create new private land, which would imply both are selling.

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1 hour ago, janetosilio said:

I think what he was trying to show was LL is adding private regions/islands. That would imply that someone is paying for them and the demand is there. 

I’m a filthy mainland owner and a 4096 is plenty for me, so I don’t know much about private land. But wouldn’t they just resell abandoned private land rather than create new parcels? Meaning, to me, that they’re doing that and there is still a need to create new private land, which would imply both are selling.

I agree with the logic that private regions don't accumulate large amounts of abandoned parcels -- estates consolidate and shed empty regions when that happens. But the OP did mention Bellisseria and shows the western cluster of Mainland, so it's not only private estates he's counting. If we look at Tyche Shepherd's gridsurvey mentioned above, the private regions count has leveled off while the overall grid size including Linden-owned Mainland has ticked upwards in most recent years.

That said, I don't know how the methodologies differ between those data and the OP's.

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2 hours ago, janetosilio said:

I’m a filthy mainland owner and a 4096 is plenty for me, so I don’t know much about private land. But wouldn’t they just resell abandoned private land rather than create new parcels? Meaning, to me, that they’re doing that and there is still a need to create new private land, which would imply both are selling.

Nope.  That's how Mainland works, for sure.  You abandon your parcel, LL holds it for a while, then sells it to someone else in the Auctions when they get around to it.  When a private region is abandoned, LL deletes it from the grid.  They also, of course, create new regions when someone buys one from them.  Thus, Chaser's comment about more private regions being created than are being removed.  (It's purely circumstantial evidence, but in the last few weeks, I've encountered several people who were in the market to buy a region; previously, I encountered maybe one per year or so.)

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19 minutes ago, Lindal Kidd said:

You abandon your parcel, LL holds it for a while, then sells it to someone else in the Auctions when they get around to it. 

Sometimes I wonder if one of the big landowners is a front for Linden Lab, propping up the price of land. On Zindra, there's a landowner who owns large numbers of parcels, many sims worth, that are overpriced and seldom even rented, let alone sold. That suggests they don't pay full tier.

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Someone called me to this thread :) 

 

I've been collecting Grid Concurrency Stats every 5 minutes for the past 10 years ( with a couple of breaks of up to 4 weeks) 

Concurrency is falling, slowly but the trend is a decline - This can be seen with  both the Maximum Daily Concurrency and the Median daily concurrency  - See the attached chart

Overall the Grid has grown in size since 2018 but that growth has mainly been Linden Projects such as  Bellisseria, The Lab has added an additional Linden Owned 454 regions in the past 14 months but Private Estates have decline by 89 - From a growth perspective 2019 was more or less flat for private Estates - Most of the net loss has been in the first two months of 2020 

The total signup figure is growing at a similar rate over all 10 years - We know its just supposed to be a count of signups to the Second Life Web Page and the figures have little relationship with the concurrency figures which do exhibit a decline over time

I have also audited the concurrency figures in the past and believe they are an accurate representation of the number of accounts logged into Second Life at any one time - The total number of Green Dots seen on the Grid Maps are within 1% of the reported concurrency during the audit process (its takes about an hours elapsed time to run the census)

 

 

concurrency.png

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2 hours ago, Lindal Kidd said:

Nope.  That's how Mainland works, for sure.  You abandon your parcel, LL holds it for a while, then sells it to someone else in the Auctions when they get around to it.  When a private region is abandoned, LL deletes it from the grid.  They also, of course, create new regions when someone buys one from them.  Thus, Chaser's comment about more private regions being created than are being removed.  (It's purely circumstantial evidence, but in the last few weeks, I've encountered several people who were in the market to buy a region; previously, I encountered maybe one per year or so.)

If a some land next to yours gets abandoned and you're interested in it, you can lodge a help desk ticket and put a request in to buy that land. I've did that a couple of times.

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5 hours ago, Kimmi Zehetbauer said:

If a some land next to yours gets abandoned and you're interested in it, you can lodge a help desk ticket and put a request in to buy that land. I've did that a couple of times.

Unless it's Horizons .. then it will always be sent to auction.

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17 hours ago, TVTuner said:

I see a lot of bots or alts 'soaking' in the water regions around the grid.  Sometimes I'll visit a pile and poke them a little.  It's funny when they teleport away after I do that.  Once in a while one will start chatting with me but that is rare.

while some of the underwaters are bots, a good number are actual people playing the Tiny Empires game.  Is why they go to the bottom of the oceans. So they won't bother anyone like can happen when they park up motionless on land for long periods

the people who teleport away are defo Tiny Empires or people in IM chatting with their friends quite often on text only viewers. Is why they teleport away to another region when you mess with them. Same as when you mess with people anywhere else, they will teleport away from you also

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14 hours ago, Lindal Kidd said:

Nope.  That's how Mainland works, for sure.  You abandon your parcel, LL holds it for a while, then sells it to someone else in the Auctions when they get around to it.  When a private region is abandoned, LL deletes it from the grid.  They also, of course, create new regions when someone buys one from them.  Thus, Chaser's comment about more private regions being created than are being removed.  (It's purely circumstantial evidence, but in the last few weeks, I've encountered several people who were in the market to buy a region; previously, I encountered maybe one per year or so.)

I found this out by being a sim owner. Your sim is still very much available just not positioned on the grid or accessible. More, layaway. If I paid a months tier I could reactivate my region without needing to purchase and setup another 

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59 minutes ago, Mollymews said:

while some of the underwaters are bots, a good number are actual people playing the Tiny Empires game.  Is why they go to the bottom of the oceans. So they won't bother anyone like can happen when they park up motionless on land for long periods

the people who teleport away are defo Tiny Empires or people in IM chatting with their friends quite often on text only viewers. Is why they teleport away to another region when you mess with them. Same as when you mess with people anywhere else, they will teleport away from you also

This makes sense. When I first returned to SL after a hiatus, and before I had a place to live, I used to hang out under water all the time. To change, to explore the depths of my inventory, etc. There were other people there, and I never got the impression that they were bots. I had some nice conversations with those underwater dwellers. 😀 And if someone poked me, I would have TPed away, too.

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