by Alphaville Herald on 30/12/09 at 5:50 pm
Massively details slipping online population – except for an in-world protest of LL policy
by Pixeleen Mistral, National Affairs desk
a year in decline: median concurrency graph courtesy of Tateru Nino
On December 25th, Tateru Nino of Massively decided to skip the Linden's Christmas present for this year and opted to hand the Lab a lump of coal with a barbed post detailing the falling number of players online in the Second Life virtual garden of cyber delights.
Ms. Nino explains that after reaching a high water mark of 88,199 in March of this year, the Second Life online population has been in decline – a change that may explain the Linden's belated concern with resident retention.
While speculating that the slide in population could be caused by the a recent Lab policy change discouraging the use of bots and campers to artificially bot parcel traffic, Nino points out that "we haven't seen any noticeable decline in the presence of these bots on the grid". This mirrors my experience – and the implications are chilling.
If significant numbers of bots actually have been removed, the Lab clearly has a serious problem recruiting enough humans to replace them – suggesting that the Lab overestimated its ability to attract and retain players and a need to slow down on bot removal. This scenario also suggests that the population inflation due to bots was significantly higher than the Lab believed.
On the other hand, if significant number of bots have not been banished from the grid, the drop in population comes from human players voting with their virtual feet, fleeing what seems to be an endless series of Lab missteps – arbitrary land pricing changes, arbitrary adult content policy changes, arbitrary content removal by rogue Linden staffers, and a Lab that seems more focused on serving the corporate virtual meeting market than the needs of the players who build the world.
After years of growth under Philip Linden's reign, we wonder if M Linden's crew can regain the traction they seem to have lost – and note that the tide seems to have turned shortly after M Linden finished replacing the previous regime's loyalists.
"The peak of the graph was the day that the mass in-world protests about the adult-content policy announcement took place. – Tateru Nino"