CSI:NY Shrinks By 93%

by Alphaville Herald on 30/10/07 at 11:50 pm

Electric Sheep in-world service workers out of work – CSI:NY downsizes to 32 sim

by Pixeleen Mistral, National Affairs desk

A virtual recession may threaten the metaverse, as service workers hired to meet and greet noobies suffered mass layoffs today. The layoffs are part of a significant downsizing in the number of CSI:NY sims – perhaps due to a less than enthusiastic response to shark jumping, couch potato marketing of immersive games to television viewers. At this time last week, some enthusiastic reports were suggesting that CBS television’s CSI:NY/Second Life hookup could yield as many as 1 million new players. However, that enthusiasm has been tempered by reality.

With concurrent user levels for SL remaining constant since airing of the highly touted television show, the new media gurus at the Electric Sheep Company and CBS have apparently decided to cut their losses by reducing the number of nearly empty CSI sims from 440 to 32 – or 7% of the land originally allocated for the cross media hypervent.

After downsizing the CSI islands, greeters and helpers for the CSI sims were told their services will not be needed as the in-world imaginary criminal investigation franchise contracts. Although the direct monetary impact of the layoffs may be relatively small, the blow to virtual consumer confidence could be significant.

At the same time some avatars have less spare change in their pockets – dampening demand for virtual land – a number of land barons were wondering where the 400 or so sims that CBS was using last week will end up. Are we looking at a simultaneous land glut and unemployment problem?

23 Responses to “CSI:NY Shrinks By 93%”

  1. pfft

    Oct 31st, 2007

    Where do you get your information?

    Downsizing was always part of the plan, ofcourse 440 sims weren’t going to be needed much longer than the initial burst of new residents.

    “After downsizing the CSI islands, greeters and helpers for the CSI sims were told their services will not be needed” – This did not happen either! People are working on shifts, those who worked the first week take this week off, those who didn’t work the first week are now working this week. Again, this was the plan from the beginning.

    I agree that maybe the number of users that were expected wasn’t met, but if you look at the figures it is still the biggest influx of people for any one event, EVER.

  2. Nacon

    Oct 31st, 2007

    Hahahahahaha… no kidding. I’ve had said this before… CSI:NY show itself is a failure.

  3. The Grid Live

    Oct 31st, 2007

    Second Life News for October 31, 2007

    Linden Lab responds to Wonderland scandal Linden Lab has responded to our request for comment about the Wonderland scandal with a statement. The statement was issued just minutes ago by Lewis PR, Linden Labs external public relations handler.

  4. Anonymous

    Oct 31st, 2007

    raise your hand if you’re shocked by this!

    honestly, I dont see why people dont look at it logically and understand that under all the hype and bullshit and PR, that all SL is, is a large MMOG with tons of servers, all dealed out through LL’s closed system, which they exclusively control. there is nothing truly magical about it, until they open it up and actually create something fundamentally groundbreaking, like a true 3d internet. People who havent had a serving of the LL kool-aid know that it’s an entertainment platform, if it can even be called that.
    The only entertainment I get is watching social retards going apeshit because you’re standing on their e-lawn or not following their way of doing things(tm), aka drama.

    Look at this site, it documents the only real product SL produces plenty of.

    So seeing that a show that’s a knock-off of a knock-off trying to make use of this platform that primarily interests those who have no life (hey, I openly admit my life sucks, otherwise I wouldnt be playing) for people who may simply be fans of the show, but have little interest things like SL is going to be nothing more than a quick feature, especially if only one episode is based around it. Expect a few people to stay, and even fewer to actually go premium.

    not being a troll, just stating the truth.

  5. Kahni Poitier

    Oct 31st, 2007

    No wonder the grid is performing so much better today.

  6. janeforyou Barbara

    Oct 31st, 2007

    Bout time thay got it down, the 440 ( silly) SIMS was no good anyway. I was there with some friend taking a look.Bad marketing… bad business but interresting.
    A lot of the users had trubble all over the gird same day at them 440 SIMS got up and i got no idea why its better now.
    I was ” wooow 440 SIMs cool”… but then i was ” eh?? whatf?? is this all?? “

  7. Lewis Nerd

    Oct 31st, 2007

    So do we have any independently verified ‘signup’ figures yet from this CSI thing?


  8. Obscure Doodad

    Oct 31st, 2007

    At the same time some avatars have less spare change in their pockets – dampening demand for virtual land – a number of land barons were wondering where the 400 or so sims that CBS was using last week will end up. Are we looking at a simultaneous land glut and unemployment problem?

    No, of course not. What you’re looking at is an enormous margin expansion in the up front price paid to LL for new sims. Those 400 will sit in inventory and be rolled out and plugged in as new orders come in. Those new orders will still pay the upfront price of an “island” or mainland, but LL will pocket every dollar of it, rather than have to go out and buy new hardware. They won’t need to. CBS already paid for it.

    This is the economic equivalent of a dealership reselling used cars at new car prices. Given this margin expansion, and constant demand for new sims, they may not even CARE that tier is not going to be paid on those 400. Every new sale is going to be 4-5 months of tier-level dollars direct to their pocket in margin widening.

    The only way this doesn’t work is if CBS had the good sense to arrange some kind of partial refund for pulling the plug early. I doubt they did. LL would be crazy to allow that.

  9. Observer

    Oct 31st, 2007

    Is anyone truly surprised by this? There was no major spike in users online after the episode.

    The whole thing was a joke.

  10. Slartibartfast Hammerer

    Oct 31st, 2007

    I thought at the time that 440 sims was incredibly ambitious but I am shocked by just how many they’ve culled down to. I wonder if they did get any kind of refund.

  11. Lordfly Digeridoo

    Oct 31st, 2007

    Maybe I’m the minority, but I was really hoping that the CSI episode crossover would be a big hit. Crossing story arcs from one medium to the next is something SL can be well-suited for.

    CSI:NY might not have been the best show for it, being cheesier cheese than a cheese factory, but something similar would be nice (like House).

  12. shockwave yareach

    Oct 31st, 2007

    If this gains SL a hundred new residents, fine. That’s one noob with 4 entire sims all to himself.

    I thought 440 sims was a ridiculously high number myself. But then, the entire Videogame tie-in trend leaves me baffled. Hey, let’s make a movie about a popular videogame (Mario Brothers). Result – bomb. Let’s pick a more actionpacked game (Wing Commander). Result – still a bomb. Oh, let’s try again (Doom). Result, bigger bomb. OH, here’s a new idea, let’s do it again with Spyhunter! At what point are the execs going to finally realize that the gamers are playing their games instead of watching their garbage and that the people watching their garbage aren’t necessarily interested in gaming? Not to mention the fact that the average Joe watching CSI won’t have the highend computer or broadband to join us in the bleeding edge virtual worlds even if they give a dang in the first place. Games are interactive; television and movies are passive. There’s a place and time for both, but they don’t mix very well.

    Where can I pick up one of those islands at a discount? :)

  13. Danny Odell

    Oct 31st, 2007

    This blog is a completely off base! Of course the sims are being downsized. It was all part of the plan to start large and then use the sims according to traffic. The hired greeters have never been layed off and will be working for at least the next 6 months steadily.

  14. Giff / Forseti

    Oct 31st, 2007

    The Herald always makes me smile, but this is a non-story.

    We needed large numbers of sims for the evening of the first episode because that was when there was the greatest occurance of a spike, and you don’t want to invite people to an experience and then say, sorry, no room for you. After that initial time period, you expect usage to smooth out.

    There was some speculation that this project was going to bring in ridiculously high numbers of people (like a million new residents) — and if those speculators are disappointed, well, there’s not much I can do about it, because they certainly didn’t hear those numbers from me. I am happy with the numbers we are seeing – they came in where I expected.

    We say over and over, we need to take one step at a time until virtual worlds are mass market, and we’re laying the paying stones for each level. This was an important step, and it’s only the beginning of the CSI project. This whole project isn’t about one day.

    I know, I know… doesn’t make as sizzling a story.

  15. Kahni Poitier

    Oct 31st, 2007

    “If this gains SL a hundred new residents, fine. That’s one noob with 4 entire sims all to himself.”

    Umm, what? I think you have your concept backwards here. Unless you’re touting the fact that a random noob can log in, and have a desolate, overmarketed, overhyped wasteland all to himself.

    That’s rolling out 4 sims to attract one resident, who most likely, will NOT buy a sim.

    Odds are, they’ll spend all their time on a camp pad while they’re afk watching CSI.

    This project was a failure. For CBS, for LL and for ESC (but I’m beginning to expect that from all three)

  16. Anonymous

    Oct 31st, 2007

    shockwave yareach, thanks for repeating what I said.

    but I’ll give you credit for making it more readable, I wrote that with no sleep. lol.

  17. Jimmy

    Nov 1st, 2007

    It is unfortunate that the CSI thing was a complete flop. Yes, I checked it out and the only people I saw wandering around during the opening were long time residents hovering around like vultures spamming notecards for their services. It was a great effort though. Why are people so pleased to see something not turn out. It is unfortunate, but not funny.

  18. Cocoanut Koala

    Nov 1st, 2007

    It was a disappointing exercise.

    I am a CSI fan (though of Miami, not NYC!), and I’m an SL fan, and I thought if *I* were watching CSI, I’d be just the type to hop onto SL and play the interactive game!

    ESC made sure they had enough sims not to have to turn away people at the door, and that was wise. But I think it is safe to say they rather overshot their estimates.

    And wisely, they cut way back on the sims once they saw what the numbers were.

    In addition, the people who did come in were not evenly spread over the sims.

    I kept an eye on the sims over the evening, and noticed the same pattern all night, with cluster 2 jammed (and later I learned, cluster 1), many clusters empty, and some with only one or two on them.

    After the show had aired in California, I counted the green dots in the sims and found (in brief here):

    My count, from 11:30 p.m. SL time, of all the people on the CSI sims: 732.

    I couldn’t find cluster number 1, so when that was added via another person’s report of it as packed, I believe that brought the total to: 802.

    (I can’t find the post right now to verify, but I remember that he said about 70, for a total of 802.)


    The breakdown of the 11:30 p.m. snapshot, with four sims per cluster:

    Clusters 2-10: 202 people

    Clusters 11-21: 77

    Clusters 22-31: 143

    Clusters 32-41: 70

    Clusters 42-41: 48

    Clusters 52-61: 24

    Clusters 62-71: 16

    Clusters 72-81: 11

    Clusters 82-91: 34

    Clusters 92-101: 34

    Clusters 102-105: 73

    41 of these 104 4-sim clusters had 0 people on them.

    In addition:

    Clusters with 0 people on them: 41
    Clusters with 1-10 people: 35
    Clusters with 11-20 people: 17
    Clusters with 21-30 people: 7
    Clusters with 31-40 people: 3

    (No clusters with 40-70 people on them)

    One cluster with 71 people (that was Cluster #2)

    And one cluster with some 70-odd people on them (Cluster #1, as reported by someone else)

    = 105 clusters; 802 people


  19. Prokofy Neva

    Nov 2nd, 2007

    What’s hilarious is that when I went to check on this article on these sims, of all people who should I run into but Tenshi Vielle, who is *cough* legendary — and ad manager for the Herald and even a Herald copy-girl! There she was *on the Sheep payroll* — busted! Serving as a greeter. And absolutely mortified to be challenged in front of her, um, customers, the CSI newbies.

    I asked if the Herald was correct that she’d be losing her job. She was angry I asked. I asked what they were paying her. Silence. These were personal questions, and I shouldn’t ask!

    Sorry, but I think the public should know whether this experiment, which was going to dramatically impact our shared world, had the numbers claimed or not.


  20. archie lukas

    Nov 2nd, 2007

    I have no idea what the hell you are talking about.

    It appears to be complete bollocks.

    Please try a pre-amble introduction sometime as we are not on the same planet as you.


  21. Gwyneth Llewelyn

    Nov 2nd, 2007

    Ah, the difficulties of explaining systems administration to the unruly crowd :)

    When anything new is launched on the mainstream, and it has a companion web site, it’s usual to be prepared to get a serious “spike” of people coming in. Planning ahead for that spike is not being “optimist” but just rationally and calmly prepare for the worst. Sure, it’s a hugely expensive move to do it in SL with LL (almost US$750,000 just in island setup costs!), but what would be truly chaotic would be to get those 50,000 extra users that registered for SL in just a few hours knocking at the doors and not being able to get in…

    The difference is that on websites hardly anyone bothers to count how many servers are actually serving content, mostly because it’s not something that’s easy to do for a layperson. On SL, however, you’ve got statistics!

    I still wonder why people claim that these “extra people” never logged in (LL’s statistics say otherwise!), and claim an infallible method based on “green dot counting” (which everybody knows that the “green dots”, like the “X avatars in sim” stats, are cached and do not reflect “instant” data anyway). Even so — some report that 800 people were in-world on the CSI:NY sims during the period shortly following the airing of the episode… and that is bad? I’ll say WOW! That’s amazing!

    As I’m tired of repeating, 2-3 people in a sim per minute, during a whole month, is the equivalent of a website having 150,000 unique visitors per month. So if the CSI:NY sims had *800* all the time, that would be close to 50 million unique viewers on a web site! I’d go *gosh!* on that if it were true!

    Alas, of course, this only happened during the “spike” after the episode was aired. Obviously those sims are not going to have so many visitors, not even close to it. However, my own “conservative” feature of a million new sign-ups after the last episode was shown, would not be too bad. The episodes tend to attract an audience of about 12-13 million viewers in the US:



    So this means that about 1% of those people who watched CSI:NY did in fact register for SL in the 48 hours following the show. That’s not bad at all! That’s about the same percentage of effectiveness of ads on Google AdSense, and a pretty good average for most types of mass-market advertising.

    After the spike, naturally, it doesn’t make sense to keep so many sims open. It’s like the shop that hires a hundred temporary attendants when a truly popular gadget (like a new PlayStation or the iPhone) is launched. You don’t need that many on the next few days — just on the launch date.

    Tateru’s graphs on http://dwellonit.blogspot.com/ are sadly very tiny and hard to read, but still, you can notice there that the number of total signups had a slight rise in the past few days, the number of daily signups spiked wildly to three times the average (and kept at 50% above the average rate for the last few days), and the number of active accounts has found a new plateaux, instead of dropping like usual. So, sure, it’s not *dramatic*. But the difference will be felt on the long run, since signups *accumulate*, even assuming that the retention rate (just 10% of all users remain “active users”) remains the same over time. Is that “a failure”? Thanks to the CSI:NY episode (and possibly “The Office” episode before it), SL might hit 12 million users this year (a prediction made in January 2007 based on a an optimistic growth) instead of “just” 11 million, which would be the more accurate prediction before CSI:NY was aired.

    Forseti, for the sake of the argument, I’m still a believer that there might be a million *additional* signups when all the CSI:NY episodes featuring Second Life are aired, not only in the US, but world-wide — which will take a year or so. Of those million, another 100,000 will become “regular users”, according to the current churn rate.

    So I can’t possibly understand how people can deem this “a failure”. What did you expect? A million signups in just a day? The number of active users doubling after a week? 100 million users by the end of 2007? Hardly! Remember that only 12 million people watched the show — barely more than SL’s population! — and only a tiny fraction of those would sign up for SL anyway. Also, why should these people behave differently in SL than the rest of the users? They’re newbies like all the rest; their experience in SL will be slightly better (they have a better orientation island; a more user-friendly viewer; better defined goals and purposes; quite a lot more Greeters/Mentors/Helpers on duty), but overall, the whole SL experience will not be overwhelmingly different. Sure, I might concede that the “clueless CSI:NY newbies” might have a lower churn rate than regular SL newbies. Maybe 20% remain active users instead of only 10%. I don’t know. It would be nice if that happened, which would point out several of the reasons why people leave SL, but that’s not the point.

    The point is that the CSI:NY episode *did* have a measurable positive impact on SL, no matter how little it might seem to many who were expecting, I don’t know, a *tsunami* of new users. Three times the number of signups on a single day sounds quite good to me, though! And getting 1% of all CSI:NY viewers to sign up for SL is *fantastic*, considering that SL is not exactly the easiest application on the world to use…

  22. Gwyneth Llewelyn

    Nov 2nd, 2007

    Oh, and BTW, searching for +CSI:NY +”second life” under Google gives 345,000 hits. Sure, it’s a worthless metric, but is it so bad?

  23. Jessica Holyoke

    Nov 3rd, 2007

    I just thought of something. The sign ups could very well be higher, but the sign ins might not be significantly changed. For example, my birth day was October 30th, but I don’t hit my one year point in Sl until November 24th or so. I had an account, but I couldn’t log in. Perhaps some of these sign-ups are people without the computing power to sign in and that’s why we don’t see them on the Grid?

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