On 25th February 2021 there was a new article about Second Life on Quartz named As Covid-19 destroyed real economies, Second Life’s economy boomed. There are many parts of the article that I think are interesting to share in terms of statistics (see below). The blog post is certainly worth reading through including resident examples on how some are living in Second Life during the past year. The blog post is split into escaping the pandemic into Second Life and going shopping on Second Life.
- “The spike in sales was part of a larger economic boom in Second Life, even as the real-world economy floundered through 2020. “We are seeing a 30-40% increase in overall in-game GDP,” said Ebbe Altberg, the CEO of Linden Labs, the company that runs Second Life. Once avatars earn Linden Dollars in the game, through the goods and services they offer, their players can cash them out into US dollars. Last year, players earned and cashed out $73 million—nearly a fifth more than the 2019 figure of $65 million.”
- “Of the 900,000-odd monthly active users in the game last year, only 14,000 or so draw any kind of income from it. The rest come for the community, or to be different versions of themselves, or to find escape. During the lockdown, Second Life saw a surge in new registrations. Something similar had happened during the 2008 recession, Altberg said: a spike in players, higher engagement, the game offering “a reprieve from social and economic stressors.” But last year, many players who hadn’t logged on in years also returned, unable to pursue their full lives offline and spending increasing amounts of time online in any case. And they happened to spend some money while they were back.”
- “Musicians set up virtual concerts, and players attended those, buying tickets or tipping the artists. One player, who runs a shop that supplies avatars with virtual pets and babies, and who asked not to be named, said that her business jumped 30%.”
- “The exchange rate of Linden Dollars to US dollars doesn’t fluctuate; it has stayed at 320 to $1 for months.“
- “Buying on Amazon is not the same as going into a shop and looking at clothing, and you could do that on Second Life,”
Previous Economy Reports On Second Life
The last update from the lab was the 2020 year in review blog post where it reads “As the pandemic grew rapidly, so too did Second Life. At the initial onset of the lockdowns, Second Life saw about a 60% increase in new user registrations compared to the same time in the previous year and there has since been sustained growth in both concurrency and economic activity“.
Linden Lab CEO Ebbe Altberg during March 2020 confirmed growth in new registrations and returning residents “We are seeing an increase in new registrations and returning residents during this outbreak. Please be kind and welcoming to those who may just need a friendly conversation to escape from this crazy world for a moment or more. If you have a friend or colleague who is looking for a safe place to socialize online during these tough times, we encourage you to help them discover how Second Life can enable them to feel less isolated by connecting them to your favorite communities or experiences“.
Linden Lab stopped releasing quarterly or annual Second Life economy metrics back in March 2012 and to be honest many found the reports interesting including myself. The former Linden Lab spokesperson Peter Gray said this back in early 2012 “We don’t plan to publish a Q4 2011 economic summary. We are discontinuing regular reporting of aggregate economy-level data, because landowners and merchants have told us that the information is of limited value to them. Moving forward, we will instead focus on improved reporting tools that help individuals better manage their businesses in SL.”
Hopefully during 2021 there will be a whole lot more new registrations and returning residents using Second Life. The Second Life user concurrency seems stable at the moment and hopefully the levels will rise up as the year goes on. Hopefully there will be more interest in private estates so that the overall Second Life grid economic improves.