Survey: Second Life Land and You – what does an 11.3% decline in private estates mean to (and for) you?

Greater Ireland: Limerick - now gone
Greater Ireland: Limerick – now gone

Daniel Voyager has reported today that the total net loss in private estates in Second Life since January 1st this year is now 2689, a decline of 11.3%. The total number of Main Second Life Grid regions is now 28254 ( 21168 private estates & 7086 Linden owned). The figures come from Tyche Shepherd who posts a weekly update about regions counts in Second Life during the past week on SLUniverse Forums.  Tyche adds that “it’s lower than the bottom of the post openspace repricing decline where we saw a bottom figure of 21195 private estates on 5th April 2009.”  It is, in fact, the lowest figure since July 2008. And it shows no sign of reversing – it’s a steady decline.

But what does this mean for you, and how does it affect your Second Life? What are your perceptions and experience? Please complete this survey – results are anonymous. But if you think there are important questions we are not asking, let us know!

Please add your thoughts in the comments too!


  1. Renting or owning land with a decent primcount is much, much, much too expensive. Without a good primcount it’s more or less impossible to build or display anything attractive. And it’s not enough to have the money to get enough land and prims to create something interesting, you need money for buildings, landscaping, and furniture, too.

    I guess it’s a unique challenge to create an interesting experience on a tiny plot with just freebies or homemade things. But constructions, installations, and events that will draw a crowd and contribute to making SL attractive and entice new and casual users to come back and stick around are way too expensive and make it much too easy for new and casual users to stay away.

  2. Good questionnaire, though your penultimate question really should be multiple choice. I’m looking forward to seeing the results. As it’s now December I should be running a quarterly Mainland census in the few weeks and will be reporting my yearly round up on SLUniverse in the new year, I expect to spend a little time looking at the change in ownership types over the past year across the grid.

  3. I really love SL and grew on its possibilities, which makes me sad when now seeing it decline like that. I had rented and owned land, both for a private house as well as a place to hold free seminars, but can’t afford that anymore. A friend of mine studies at the Open University, which was also forced to lower their appearance in SL, all due to the new rules and, most of all, the high tier.

    There are many providers for online courses and chats by now offering fascinating possibilities, and still I think SL had and has a unique standing there. But with the high costs as well as the lack of advertising for SL as such, I see no chance of it ever regaining a firm and widely-known position.
    When I speak of it nowadays, I always get asked “Huh? That still exists?” With that, it’s no wonder the numbers not only decline but don’t get replenished either.

    I think SL has to be re-invented, with its possibilities as well as its advertisement and reputation. They should build on what they have, but go on from there and not only try to save a sinking ship with patches of tape.

    Make it a plattform for social meetings again, for education, support the the crossover to real life, show people they can actually get together there _and_ build their own land, plant their acres or whatever they can do on other plattforms. That even with a good looking avatar!

    A better graphic might also urge people to come and stay at SL, especially when thinking of the fans of the various tv series. I know Star Trek has a place in SL, I know there are Star Gates. I can imagine every fan group being happy when they are able to build ‘their’ world in virtual life.
    Still, they have to become aware of that, too.

    That said, there’s one last point: Whatever one might think about those areas, maybe it’s worth giving a thought about supporting the areas of erotic roleplay, too. It would seem to me those are among the members most loyal to SL, and Linden needs paying customers if it is to lower the costs for all. We are all grown up and able to refrain from entering any region we are not interested in, just as we are in real life.

    Anyway, it’s the fans that keep any virtual good alive, no less is true for SL imho.

  4. I am a six-plus-year SL resident and addict 🙂 and I suspect the decline is mostly due to hard economic times in RL. If money is short, payments for virtual land are probably low on the “absolute necessity” list, sadly.

    The main thing I’d like to see the Lab do at this point is raise the amount of land that people can own at the current tier levels / rates. (Lowering the cost at each tier would be great too, of course.) That would pretty automatically raise land ownership, since people could get more land (actual purchase prices are cheap!) without paying more per month.

    In terms of getting tons more people inworld, I’d advise the lab to be careful and patient. There is a solid niche of people who enjoy and understand and flourish in the Grid now. That niche will, I think, grow over time. The worst thing to do would be to change SL so much that it no longer appealed to that niche, but to some other hypothetical people who might turn out to either not exist, or to be already well served by something else. Stay in for the long game, I say, and patience will be rewarded…

  5. The Marketplace has changed the face of shopping. Whereas store rentals used to help pay for social venues such as roleplaying, music, entertainment, the rise of the marketplace means merchants can get more for less by having a strong marketplace presence and smaller inworld presence, this has a knock on effect in the areas I mentioned.

    Linden Lab have not made moves yet to respond to this changing world, whereas residents are, by downgrading their holdings.

    There are other factors and Dale is most certainly right to point to RL economic issues, but the changing dynamic is something Linden Lab need to pay attention to, people primarily come to Second Life for something to do, the less there is to do, the less of an attraction Second Life becomes.

    1. I agree as i so often do with Ciaran the market place has I suspect greatly weakened the internal economy. L$ I suspect do not circulate as they did. they are no longer passed where once they passed from avatar to avatar without passing through the Linden Exchange. I suspect the number of such transfers has fallen sharply,this lack of circulation reflects a lack of activity in world While visits to the exchange measure income for the Lab a count .internal transfers indicate resident engagement and interest. when that is lost. then income..will follow.

  6. Since finding IW, I haven’t been in SL much anymore. I can’t help it. It’s hard, being on a grid that has free image uploads etc, high prim counts and low cost, to come back to my little parcels in SL and make due with the low prims and high prices. It shouldn’t cost that much to own virtual land. I’m quite sure I won’t be renewing my premium membership after this year. I’ll still visit because I have some friends there, but I will be almost wholly relocated to another grid.

  7. I Love having my own home in second Life . Makes it so much more realistic and also have a place to practice my building. One thing I have learned is that better quality building involves using more prims meaning more cost I pay a fair bit for a 2K prim lot about $ 1.50 a day . Doesn’t seem so bad when you look at it that way and it is comparable to other sims I have checked out.. 2 other sims I used to rent / own on have shut down . Moving is not fun. I realize LL has to make a profit , but think they could still provide better customer support and encourage people to buy / rent land to help keep Second Life viable.

  8. I have two rented regions in Second Life for role play but I had as many as five up to a year ago. Since then I have cut back and opened fours sim in OSgrid for cross-grid role play between SL and OSG. I also have a nine region mega standalone on Hypergrid for sailing and RP. I see this happening more now. People are branching out as Opensim improves and new platforms like Cloud Party come on stream.

    Linden Lab needs to seriously get back to supporting their flagship product and reduce tier before what is left of it becomes a waste land.

  9. I’m with the others who mentioned other grids. I play in Inworldz, I have 7 sims in osgrid, and a private walled grid as well. Why do I need to pay for land, when other places besides SL it’s free, at least $ wise.

  10. Stability is something very difficult to achieve and usually it is much more normal to either expand or contract. And now SL is in a constant contraction.

    I believe that there is a different angle, connected to the tier yet different, that is usually underestimated: prim availability

    In SL we love to create, either simple objects or full sims, decorate our homes or build commercial areas, for personal pleasure or for business. Yet there is a moment where everybody hits the ceiling. With experience the creating become more elaborate. We want to achieve more. Rise to higher level of beauty. And soon all the prims available have been used. The first time we can get more land. Maybe the second time too. Maybe even more times. But then there is a moment for everybody to confront themselves and ask “am I not spending too much on this ‘game'” ? And we stop buying land. We may even begin to downsize a little. But without more prim to play with, the “game” is a little less interesting. It may even become boring. There are ideas for a new castle here, a new hill there, some more trees. But simply we do not have more room. Then we face a decision : do I stop making something new or I delete something old. Either way it is a painful decision. If we stop creating it may become boring, less interesting. If we start to erase something we created to be our magic corner in our own virtual space, we part from something we love. It is not easy. We need to create emotional detachment. It is just a “game” after all. And a bit of the “love” is gone. And once we have learned to do that once it is easier to do it more. And it is easier to downsize further. “I had to keep my castle empty of furniture because I had no prims for the park around it, maybe I need a smaller plot for just a simple cottage”

    I have seen many discussions in the past months about why a tier reduction is is not viable, because it would disrupt the business of the biggest land barons, that carry on their shoulders most of direct relationship between LL and customers. I am not sure whether that is 100% true but I may accept that.
    Yet there are other direction where SL might improve and so far has not. Some basics of SL has never been changed in my almost 6 years in SL: lag has always been the same. The way crashes are experienced has not changed. Textures upload more or less at the same speed they did 5 years ago. And prims … prims are always the same number. I do believe that if LL had been able to drive their technology to slowly but constantly increase the number of available prims, it might have been a different SL.

    I have seen many running away to different grids lately: to Inworldz, to Kitely, to OSG or other opensims. They do appreciate the less cost of course, but they appreciate even more the possibility to have a far larger prim availability, to be able to create more elaborate sims, or to be able to keep out their previous creations while creating new things. They may be lonely in different grid. Yet being able to create for their own pleasure is an acceptable tradeof for many. When they need social life they can still come back to SL without owning any land here.

    1. I agree with almost everything you say , except the fact that SL is “game” My attention span for games is like 15 min , and after 4 years in SL I still look forward to logging in every day. I think of SL more like as an alternate Universe. Seems like so much to learn , especially building , and the best part is meeting people form all over. I did try Inworldz but got so much invested in SL now.

  11. If LL does not want to lower the price of Sims, it could increase to at least 45 000 prims. Moreover, and this is in my opinion the heart of the problem, LL should strictly enforce the law of intellectual property. Remove from Marketplace everything that resembles cheap or demos, while allowing retailers to display banners for their sales on the game, popular customers could go back shopping inworld. But this implies having a competent and important jurists and marketing team…

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