Exclusive: Second Life Starts To Grow Again


They say numbers don’t lie, and in recent months the number of people populating virtual world Second Life has started to rise again. Mark Kingdon, CEO of parent company Linden Lab, has been touting the return to steady user growth; to back up his claims, he shared with us the chart below, which tracks the number of unique repeat logins into Second Life on a month-by-month basis (it doesn’t include new signups during each month.) That number stood at 731,000 as of the end of March, the result of an upward climb that began in August 2008. Notably, it’s higher than the number of SL’s active monthly users (defined as those who log in for more than an hour at a time) in March, which Kingdon tells me was just 650,000. Since taking the helm from founder Philip Rosedale last April, Kingdon has been working with a team of newly-appointed executives to simplify the user registration/conversion process and stabilize the platform — efforts this chart suggests are paying off.




Second Life is certainly somewhat interesting, but it suffers from quite a few problems:

1. It is NOT newbie-friendly. The UI is horrible and anything but intuitive.
2. Lag. Often it’s so bad, you feel like walking knee-deep in mud.
3. Crashes. The client crashes relatively often.
4. Features. Lindenlabs is not very accomodating to changes, even long-standing complaints and issues have not been addressed, and likely will never be addressed either. They value their customers about as much as I value chewing gum stuck to the sole of my shoes.
4a. The search functions suck. They might have been considered groundbreaking sometime in the early 1990s. Now they’re near useless.
4b. The “map” is about as useless as a kid’s drawing to find your way around. Ok, the kids drawing might be more helpful.
4c. Texture/Geometry handling (caching, transfer etc.pp.) is totally ineffective.
4d. Oh forget it. Their feature wishlist is longer than a roll of toilet paper and gets pretty much treated as such.

On the plus side:
1. It’s an awesome place to hold meetings or to just socialize. Not as good as RealLife, but good enough.
2. Creating things. The building interface is simple enough (if kludgy) to build almost anything at will. The scripting language itself is retarded enough that it’s learnable in no time.
3. Because of the “build anything” ability, there are some truly AMAZING places there. From fun games to educational areas, art exhibits to live music (my favorite) it’s all there.
4. People are, in general, very friendly and helpful.
5. You can, indeed, play for free. It doesn’t cost a dime, and there’s enough freebies so one never needs to spend a single cent. If one needs cash, it’s easy enough to get a little bit in exchange for time, too.


My account is over 2 years old but i could never get into it. SL has issues for not making SL newbie friendly.. I’ve only recently got into SL better but I’m still learning ALOT of things. Huge ass learning curve. And right now SL keeps crashing on me.

Andrew L.

I like SL and I’m happy to see SL community growing but dear Mr Kingdom, how should be the chart without alts and bot? I think less than half! And what about griefer and people that stole and copy product or place from other vendors who work hard to create something original and beautiful inworld? Traffic is not all!

Chili Yiyuan

“download a relatively massive client” ? Whats the size of browsers like Firefox or Google Chrome? No one complains about the size of those.
The number of bots are growing, as we see the number of light clients growing, but they are living lonely life on deserted sims with no other trafic than the bots. Guess if all had to registrate on a credit card number, or other kind of ID, the use of bots would drop dramatically?

Bola C. King

@Ibrahim: Not a “game,” as generally understood. You don’t have system-defined goals etc. And the level of “commitment” – especially since you don’t have to pay $15/mo *cough*WoW*cough* – is totally up to you and your personal comfort level.


Hey you count the users that logged with 3 avatars ? Cause the number of avatar alternatives is growing up too! ^^
/me licks your nose :3

Robert W Myers

I don’t view SL as a game: I use it to compensate for less travel money and the ned to have a more humanizing experience than the telephone conference call provides. It’s VOIP so I am trying to get my meetings to start using SL especially now that we have SameTime-SL (SL3d)


Agreed. If you just hang out in Orientation Island or somesuch, it gets boring fast. But go find an RP sim. RP FTW! oh, and building ftw too, of course ^^


If you are open minded, want to learn, get to know people, it’s a blast. You always have to keep in mind that the other avatars are also real people…I started in SL in August returned in January and have really met some great people and learned new things.


You know, Second Life was never my thing but I have to give them credit as they’re reportedly profitable, which is more than I can say about a lot of more popular services and company *cough*Twitter*cough*. There was a gold rush of companies at one point who saw SL as the next big thing, and they’ve weathered the mass exodus. Maybe their ceiling isn’t as high as a Facebook or Twitter, but they’ve built a solid business on Web 2.0, and I think we don’t seem to give these types of companies enough credit.


I am curious as to what percentage of those active user accounts are “bots”. I hear you can run 3 or 4 from a Linux box pretty easily. In either case, it does appear that SL use is on the rise again. I’d also be curious to see if this increase is from “emerging” market countries as opposed to the increase in U.S. or european users.

Kwame Oh

Lets also give credit where credit is due, there has been an active gateway program, or as some will call them OI’s, which aids the newcomer into secondlife, by giving them a choice of entry, relevant to their real life demography.

This and the fact the newcomer is then in more of a comfort zone than the old OI, where you were flung in amongst and into an OI with varied levels of support for your new experience.

More importantly with training specific to each gateway, and the specific direction they are aiming in this journey we know as virtual worlds clients “and as yet I use this term loosely” can be first welcomed into a professional environment, and then guided to whichever task specific they came into secondlife to achieve.

Working for one of these gateways myself, I have been extremely, and pleasantly surprised at the caliber of the gateways that have sprung up, and am looking forward to more companies and entities creating such “spaces” to fulfill the myriad of interests for the organic world looking to join this revolution.

We all may wish there was more transparency in dealings with the Labs, but I am sure they will get to end point in their thinking in the not too distant future.

Julius Sowu on behalf of Virtually-Linked London

Madddyyy Schnook

Hey Jason — You might want to come back in. And if 25 – 30 meg is a massive client in the age of broadband and linking to greifing attacks from 2006 although funny, makes it llok bad. SL is a lovely place, learn or play or do whatever. Maybe if you come back and try and stick it out and earn and look arounf=d you might like it.
Look me up and i,ll even show you how.

Jason Lackey

This is something that I guess I never “got”. I signed up, was forced to choose some odd userid, making it impossible to reuse any other online userid or identity I have, was forced to download a relatively massive client and then subjected to a world/environment that looked like a crappy MUD from 5-10 years ago. Some of the griefer attacks seem at least interesting though : http://www.boingboing.net/2006/12/21/second-life-griefers.html

Robert W Myers

I know what you mean. I started using SL3D to avoid all the hastle and distraction. (I like to put rubber to the road) I am exploring how SL3D can be used to put on a conference now. Maybe you should try again?

Comments are closed.