24% of Second Life Sessions End in Tears

by Pixeleen Mistral on 08/09/07 at 4:25 pm

LL consistently unstable January-July
Some residents have had enough of 3D advertisement world

by Pixeleen Mistral, National Affairs desk

For the last 6 months, nearly a quarter of Second Life sessions have ended abnormally according to numbers recently released by Meta Linden. For SL players who have been begging for stability instead of more new features this comes as no surprise.

monthly averages – read ‘em and weep

However, patience with the feature-frenzied Linden game gods may be running out – compared to June there were 5800 fewer subscribers or “premium accounts” in July. Looking at the long term trends, the erosion of subscribers is not surprising – the growth rate has been falling continuously since february, and has now turned negative – a worrying trend for those that depend on paying customers in the walled garden of cyber delights. It appears that a combination of outlawing gambling in-world, and a continuing outrageous level of frozen/crashed/abnormally terminated sessions for 6 months is leading some to conclude that their entertainment dollars can be better spent elsewhere.

How much impact this has on Linden Lab’s actual behavior is an open question – previous resident protests had little effect, and it is telling that the Lab is no longer prominently featuring population numbers on the front page of their web site. Instead, the Second Life Grid concept is being hyped. While the marketing materials look slick, it is interesting that no service levels are mentioned – a surprising omission for what is claimed to be a platform that can scale to millions of users. Could the Lab’s marketing be running a few miles ahead of its technology?

Even Meta Linden crashes has sessions terminate abnormally

If we take the Lindens at their word, they have been laboring mightily to stabilize the world – but there has been no real progress to date. Will SL ever be stable? It may not matter – if the goal is to create a corporate-sponsored advertisement world, perhaps getting resident crash rates down to 20% will be good enough – unless residents crash before they can absorb the sponsor’s message.

Does stability matter to advertisers?

After listening to over a year of breathless new media marketing “experts” telling us that it just totally makes sense to advertise in Second Life, perhaps some koolaide is in order. Look on the bright side: 3 out of 4 resident are not going to crash on any given session – and innovative new approaches can work around SL problems. Consider the captive account creation site that Reuters and Acura have here.

Reuters planning hard hitting investigative journalism about Acura and Second Life?

The page and “sponsored orientation area” seem to serve several purposes – to sign up new metaverse residents giving the sponsor a collection of e-mail addresses to be spammed at will. Seen in this light, it does not matter if SL works because the real point is getting e-mail addresses and expression of interest in a product along with some demographic information. Frequent Second Life crashes could also help customers appreciate the value of airbags, so perhaps the metaverse is good enough as is.

Billing problems? Really? Imagine that!

While Meta Linden is reportedly spin doctoring the decline in subscribers as being caused by “billing problems”, could the cause of some of those “billing problems” be customers deciding they don’t want to be billed for a broken game adverworld? On the other hand, perhaps a company that cannot field a product that works more than 75% of the time would accept similar performance from a billing service. The question is – why would anyone else?

Acura reliability in a Second Life world?

11 Responses to “24% of Second Life Sessions End in Tears”

  1. Gaius Goodliffe

    Sep 8th, 2007

    With stipends down to less than the cost of the premium account, the only reason to get a premium account is to own mainland land. When land prices rose as high as they did, and private islands were given the ability to have parcels bought & sold just like on the mainland (except with actual management that can remove your neighbors megaprims hanging over your land) I’m baffled that premium accounts are still as high as they are. The real mystery is not why they’re declining, but why are they still so high? Granted, mainland costs have come down in recent weeks, but still, why would anyone want to own mainland at this point?

  2. Big Dave

    Sep 8th, 2007

    The Linden numbers for abnormal termination may be a bit high. I have had a number of sessions that crashed during a normal logout and asked for a crash report. This is about half of the sessions that have been reported as that have involved a crash. If my experience is typical, the real number may be about half of that. Some of this problem is caused I am sure by users with marginal systems that have client overload and crash.

  3. Fromage Ferdais

    Sep 9th, 2007

    Those stats were released more than a week ago – bit slow on the uptake eh?

  4. Meni

    Sep 9th, 2007

    The percent of abnormally ended sessions does not say anything as an absolute value. To explain, let’s look at the extremes:

    * if all residents are online all the time, and have no intention to logout the abnormally ended sessions would be 100%.
    * if all residents are only online for a very short moment per session, the abnormally ended sessions would be significant lower, towards 0%

    So what does it say 24%? Nothing. The only thing what matters is the trend. If in the long term the trend line is declining we know Linden Lab is doing a good job, assuming the login-time avarage of residents is the same.

  5. Jessica Holyoke

    Sep 9th, 2007

    I thought about going Premium for better access to support services. A few weeks back I was looking at a friend’s classified ad that I knew she had updated. I was closing it out when it asked me to save, don’t save or cancel. I hit save knowing that I didn’t make any changes. I was then charged her ad fee and her ad was added to my profile. She was paying $500L per week so I ended up paying S500L. I did what I could. I went to Help island and the knowledge base and there was no help there. I submitted a bug report and added it to an existing issue on JIRA. But I was not refunded that $500L back.

    Does Live Chat make Premium accounts more worthwhile?

  6. kathygnome

    Sep 9th, 2007

    I’m fed up with a lot in the game, but I think the loss of premium accounts has more to do with people heading for greener and less cluttered pastures on private islands.

  7. Cocoanut Koala

    Sep 9th, 2007

    There’s a better possible explanation for this, written by Prok three days ago:

    “Linden Lab is hemorrhaging accounts. By their own admission (Meta Linden’s August office hours), 5,800 premium accounts were lost in the month of July primarily because residents were unable to pay!”


    That’s a pretty good bit of information on this topic; too bad you didn’t get to read it here.

    Too bad, too, that SLH couldn’t support its own reporters, but lets them be ransacked in the comments without comment of their own.

    It’s too bad SLH sees fit to DEMOTE its best reporter, the one who cared about actual news and covered it in a timely manner.

    It’s too bad SLH no longer lets its reporters put credits on the photos they post, but leaves that until the editors here get around to it, which as you can see, is often days later.

    If you want to know what’s going on, go to SLRecords, where SLH’s best reporter went.


  8. like_ummm

    Sep 9th, 2007

    yea – prokofy was good and i have missed the in-depth and intelligent articles. I never understood why everyone hated prokofy.

  9. Obscure Doodad

    Sep 10th, 2007

    If premiums are down, or even if premium growth rate is down, it doesn’t matter why. Not in the least.

    What matters is reduced LL revenue to fund new hires to fix bugs or whatever. The premiums going to islands just means the island owners collect more rent. They don’t pay more than $295 / month to LL just because they have more renters.

    LL revenue is hit by loss of premiums. LL does not financially, or should not financially, care where they went. What they must care about is where the money went and how to get it back.

    Never ever forget, they are trying to grow, and by that I mean earnings per privately held share. You can’t do that with decreasing revenue unless you fire people. Never pleasant or easy, that.

  10. Maria Leveaux

    Sep 10th, 2007

    Pixeleen Mistral
    “24% of Second Life Sessions End in Tears”

    Doesn’t that mean conversely that 76% end in Satisfactory Fashion at Least?

    You really are a “Glass is Half Empty” sort of person, aren’t you?


  11. Anonymous Poster

    Sep 20th, 2007

    Cocoanut Koala and like_ummmm,

    lol hy prokofy. blowing your own horn again I see.

    Your posts were hardly intelligent and were nothing more than rants about some huge bolshevik conspiracy to prevent you from getting money because people should like being told what to do by you.

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