User Engagement in Virtual Worlds Still Growing

Senor Hontar: “We must work in the world. The world is thus.”
Father Altamirano: “No Senor Hontar…thus have we made the world. Thus have I made it”
Final lines of the film ‘The Mission’

As well as the increase in venture capital investment across all virtual worlds, the time spent in them, measured in user hours, is growing too. While this is partly due to existing users spending longer it is often the about the typical new user who after the initial log-in hurdles becomes highly engaged for 3-18 months or longer with a particular personally resonant virtual world service. Virtual worlds that offer something beyond mall-like activities (PS3Home springs to mind) or just a glorified chat channel (there are quite a few in this category) will obviously increase engagement. The personalization factor, to make the virtual space YourSpace either by customising other community members work or by creating it from scratch yourself, naturally increases your personal investment. Second Life has always been about Your World and one of the major driving factors is aspirational lifestyle and peer appraisal.

We partly escape, we are often out to impress, we love the control but most importantly we like to co-create and communicate with those we like on our terms and in areas we make.

Increase in User Engagement Second Life

Linden Lab who run Second Life have just published figures looking at 2008 and as in several presentations I have been giving around the world, it shows that SL and other worlds are far more ‘sticky’ than traditional 2D social networks such as Facebook and MySpace. From the Linden Lab (second life creators) Blog:

Second Life Residents logged nearly 400 million hours in 2008, growing 61% over 2007
Thursday, January 15th, 2009 at 12:33 PM by: Zee Linden

Linden Lab is pleased to announce results for Q4 and 2008.  User hours increased by 61% over 2007, highlighting the tremendous growth rate in user engagement that Second Life maintained throughout 2008.  User hours increased steadily each quarter, culminating in a record-setting 112 million user hours in Q4.  In addition:

  • Peak concurrent users were up 31% over 2007
  • Land owned by Residents increased 82% over 2007
  • Exchange Volume increased 33% over 2007
  • User-to-user transactions in Q4 increased 54% over Q4 of 2007.

Financially 2008 was an outstanding year for the company from a profitability and cash flow perspective. We are in a strong position to weather the economic downturn while continuing to invest in the Second Life platform.

Looking at Q4 in more detail:

Q4 user hours grew 47% from the same quarter last year. In Q4, Residents spent 112 million hours in Second Life which was an increase of 9% from Q3. Peak concurrent users of 76,000 grew 6.7% over Q3 and approximately 30% over Q4 of last year.

Increase User Concurrency Second Life[/caption]


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