UPDATED! Results of the First-Ever RyanSchultz.com Reader Poll: On Which Social VR Platforms/Virtual Worlds Do You Have a User Account?

Here are the results of the first-ever reader poll on the RyanSchultz.com blog. (I decided to publish the results a day early.) I asked you which social VR spaces and virtual worlds you had a user account on. Thank you to everybody who responded to the survey!

Please note that this was not in any way a scientific poll. It was simply a quick and easy way to get a sense of how many of my readers have accounts on the various social VR spaces and virtual worlds. Here is a detailed summary of the poll results.

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UPDATE 6:51 p.m.: Later in the evening, after another four votes had been cast, I took a screenshot of a bar chart display of the reader poll responses, which might be a little easier to read than the pie chart:

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Reader poll answers were widely spread out. No one virtual world got higher than 14.35% of the total votes cast.

Second Life

Unsurprisingly, Second Life is still the most popular virtual world. 

241 readers (14.35% of respondents) have accounts on SL. A recent post on the Second Life Friends Facebook group asked people how old they were, and people also shared how long they had been playing Second Life. What is truly surprising is how much older the average Second Life player is than for most other virtual world platforms, and the length of time that they have been playing SL. It was not unusual to find people who have been using Second Life for 9, 10, 11 or even more years.

What is the secret to Second Life’s “stickiness”? In a word, it’s investment: investment of time, investment of money, investment in an avatar representation, and investment in community. A 2015 academic study by Aleksandra Przegalińska of Kozminski University in Poland looked at various active communities in Second Life (Goreans, Furries, and Tinies) and reported:

Second Life is the one of strongest currently known type of cultural, collectively negotiated constructions of virtual reality, and despite its old age (12 years), it is still a platform for interactions for a small but consolidated group of residents. In this paper I will make an attempt to discuss how certain Second Life communities remain strong despite the mediums overall decay. I will mainly focus at the relationships of the members of these successful communities with their avatars putting forward two categories: embodiment and engagement. To support my argument I will focus on case-studies of three significant and dynamical and fantasy communities in Second Life: Goreans, Furries and Tinies. As I will try to show, there are several relevant conclusions emerging from the ethnographic research conducted for the purpose of this article. First of all, avatars created within such communities also share particular common traits: they possess features that allow for stronger narrative and/or embodied identification. Secondly, “strong” communities usually put a lot of emphasis on managing communication and interaction among their members.

My aim is to investigate how a particular kind of avatar identities can fuel vividness of community despite the virtual worlds’ overall decay. I will make an attempt to understand what consitutes a strong virtual presence. For that purpose I will use two important categories: embodiment and engagement. As Second Life is already a very well documented space I will focus mainly on its current situation, describing communities that still exists there, and – to a certain extent – on its future. I will argue that two distinctive factors play a crucial role in understanding what being in Second Life in particular, and in Virtual Reality in general actually means: the first one can be located on the level of particular avatar and consists in strong identification with the character, both in an embodied and narrative way. The second one is related to relationship with other avatars within the community: common goals, intensive collaboration and produsage, and creating bonds of engagement. I will also try to show how these two levels: individual identification and interactions with others intersect and enforce each other.

Philip Rosedale himself still logs into Second Life, and so do 1 million other users each month. Despite strong external competition and poor graphics, Second Life – contrary to other older types of social media that lost the competition with more innovative ones and eventually closed down – is still alive and enjoys a faithful consolidated community of users. Linden Lab remains profitable and thus does not close the world down. External observers call it a virtual community in decay, [but] the Second Life community itself however does not feel that way and, interestingly enough, does not wish to migrate to new formats.

The last point is the most important. Many hundreds of thousands of people are quite content with their Second Life experience, and many have been using the platform for years. While they may create accounts on other social VR platforms/virtual worlds out of curiosity, they do not feel any strong need to make a wholesale move to any other metaverse product. They are happy where they are, they build unique avatar identities, they make friends and form strong communities, and they prosper by building and selling items to a large community of other avatars.

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The multitude of OpenSim-based virtual worlds (mostly Hypergrid-enabled ones) were also very popular, coming second behind Second Life.

I do apologize for screwing up my original survey, by not lumping all the OpenSim-based virtual worlds into one category (I had listed Kitely and AvaCon as separate choices). This means that the total number of votes may be slightly higher than it would have been otherwise (for example, someone may have checked both Kitely and OpenSim). Like I said, this is hardly a scientific poll!

Also, quite a few readers selected “Other” in the reader poll, and then entered an OpenSim virtual world, instead of selecting the OpenSim category in the poll. Among the many OpenSim worlds people listed under “Other” were the following grids:

  • 3rd Life Grid
  • 3rd Rock Grid
  • Craft World
  • Discovery Grid
  • DigiWorldz
  • EdMondo
  • Gevolution World
  • Great Canadian Grid
  • Infiniti Grid
  • Lost World
  • Metropolis
  • OSGrid
  • Party Destination Grid
  • Tag Grid
  • Tranquility
  • Virtual Highway

Please note that I have not included the former InWorldz grid among the OpenSim grid totals. This is because many people do not consider InWorldz a true OpenSim grid. Talla Adam, in a comment to another blogpost, has written about how the InWorldz software branched off from the OpenSim project:

Inworldz, by the way, is not regarded as Opensim anyway, although its roots are in OpenSim. InWorldz runs on the in-house developed Halcyon platform while OSGrid runs on current OpeSim.

So, totalling up the reader poll votes (not including InWorldz):

  • OpenSim grids (e.g. OSGrid): 72
  • Kitely: 63
  • “Other” OpenSim grid responses (see above): 49 in total
  • AvaCon: 9
  • GRAND TOTAL: 193 (11.5% of poll respondents)

(As I said before, this might be a little on the high side because of my mistake.)

So OpenSim still seems to be a popular choice for many readers who, for one reason or another, dislike Linden Lab’s costs and/or policies with Second Life. Talla Adam recently wrote of the exodus from InWorldz when that world unexpectedly shut down:

What I like about the Opensim Metaverse is that it’s constantly changing while Second Life, being a walled garden with an increasingly  restrictive and self-serving TOS, has begun to stagnate as it slowly declines. I would liken Second Life to a declining protectionist superstate while Opensim has become a growing collection of medium and smaller worlds with upwardly mobile populations that travel the Metaverse via Hypergrid, thus forming a greater market for virtual goods, services and entertainment.

This has been made more evident with the sudden collapse of the walled garden InWorldz grid just recently and the displacement of a its rather large population. What we are seeing from this exodus is that very few people are returning to Second Life or seeking out other walled garden grids like InWorldz. The vast majority are voting with their virtual feet and most are settling in the larger Opensim grids that are open to full Commerce and Hypergrid travel.

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The “Big Five” social VR platforms

After Second Life and OpenSim, the next biggest section of the reader responses were these five newer social VR platforms:

  • Sansar (149 readers, 8.87%)
  • High Fidelity (145 readers, 8.63%)
  • VRChat (101 readers, 6.01%)
  • Sinespace (83 readers, 4.94%)
  • AltspaceVR (68 readers, 4.05%)

Not far behind were a few more newer competitors

  • Rec Room (54 readers, 3.22%)
  • Somnium Space (53 readers, 3.16%)
  • Bigscreen (35 readers, 2.09%)
  • Facebook Spaces (29 readers, 1.73%)
  • Oculus Rooms (26 readers, 1.55%)
  • vTime (20 readers, 1.19%)
  • TheWaveVR (16 readers, 0.95%)

Older and dead worlds

The following eight older and/or dead worlds still showed a surprisingly high level of user accounts created in their time:

  • InWorldz (dead; 67 readers, 4.02%)
  • Blue Mars (dead; 49 readers, 2.94%)
  • IMVU (43 readers, 2.57%)
  • Cloud Party (dead; 38 readers, 2.28%)
  • Active Worlds (37 readers, 2.22%)
  • There.com (29 readers, 1.74%)
  • Twinity (16 readers, 0.96%)
  • Virtual Paradise (8 readers, 0.48%)

Adult-oriented virtual worlds were not that popular

  • Utherverse/Red Light Center (11 readers, 0.66%)
  • Oasis (9 readers, 0.54%)
  • LivCloser (0 readers, 0%)

And the blockchain-based virtual worlds still have few users signed up

  • Decentraland (16 readers, 0.96%)
  • Elysium VR (6 readers, 0.36%)
  • Cryptovoxels (5 readers, 0.3%)
  • Virtual Universe (5 readers, 0.3%)
  • Terra Virtua (3 readers, 0.18%)
  • VIBEHub (3 readers, 0.18%)
  • Ceek (1 reader, 0.06%)
  • The Deep (1 reader, 0.06%)
  • Mark Space (1 reader, 0.06%)
  • Staramba Spaces (0 readers, 0%)

So, what can these poll results tell us?

  • People are genuinely curious about the various newer virtual worlds, and many have created at least test accounts on multiple platforms, to check them out. However, no single virtual world has an overwhelming market share in the metaverse platform market. (The closest is Second Life at 15% of poll respondents.)
  • Second Life and Hypergrid-enabled OpenSim grids will continue to be the most popular and successful virtual worlds for some time to come. It will be extremely difficult, if not impossible, to convince their contented, faithful users to make the move to other, newer metaverse platforms. If Linden Lab is smart, they will continue to plow resources into Second Life and reap the benefits of that cash cow.
  • The “Big Five”—Sansar, High Fidelity, VRChat, Sinespace, and AltspaceVR—will continue to grow as they add new features and as more consumers slowly adopt virtual reality hardware over time (all these platforms also support desktop users). This VR uptake will take much, much longer than the original industry growth estimates, but it will come in time. All five platforms are very well positioned to take advantage of this shift, and they are the places to watch for exciting new developments.
  • The next seven platforms chasing after the “Big Five”—Rec Room, Somnium Space, Bigscreen, Facebook Spaces, Oculus Rooms, vTime, and TheWaveVR—will likely also gain some users over time, but it will take quite a bit of hard work to get them to overtake the front-runners.
  • Dozens of smaller virtual world platforms face a highly competitive marketplace, and a savage battle to capture consumer mindshare and demonstrate value. Many of these products will not succeed. In particular, adult-oriented virtual worlds (other than the entrenched Second Life) and blockchain/ cryptocurrency-based virtual worlds will continue to struggle to attract users and investors.

UPDATE: A commenter, named Samantha, makes a good point:

Interesting pool and article. However, talking about market share:
“no single virtual world has an overwhelming market share in the metaverse platform market. (The closest is Second Life at 15% of poll respondents.”
The problem here is that something that has been tried once to give a look isn’t something that is being used. Remember, you asked for who has an user account, not if we are using it. The above numbers tell us how many of your readers and people who answered did hear of a certain virtual world and gave it a try.

Which is true, and I should be more careful when talking about “market share”. This is a new and evolving market, and frankly all the “Big Five” metaverse platforms still have rather low concurrency figures, especially when compared to Second Life. Perhaps “market interest” or “market curiosity” might be a better term than “market share” at this point in time. Thanks, Samantha!

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Second Life Steals, Deals, and Freebies: London City Freebies, Including the Robert and Jenny Full-Body Mesh Avatars by Altamura!

UPDATE Sept. 28th: For a current, up-to-date list of free or inexpensive options for mesh avatar heads and bodies for female Second Life avatars, please see this blogpost. For a current, up-to-date list of free options for free and inexpensive male mesh avatar heads and bodies, please see this blogpost

London City is invariably one of the busiest (and laggiest!) sims in Second Life. No matter what time of the day or night, there’s always a crowd of avatars present, chatting with each other or just hanging out.

Just off to the side of the main gathering spot in London City is the Freebie Megastore:

Freebie Megastore London City 29 Aug 2018.png

This is not one of my top four freebie stores in Second Life, because almost all of the items available here are dated, system-layer-and-flexiprim clothing designed for the older SL system (i.e. non-mesh) avatars. However, on my last visit, I did find a pleasant surprise: two free full-body mesh avatars by Altamura! They’re just inside the entrance on the main floor, to the left (here’s a SLURL to take you directly there):

Robert and Jenny Altamura Fullbody Mesh Avatars London City 29 Aug 2018

These are the same avatars which Rumegusc Altamura very generously gave as hunt gifts late last year: the Jenny full-body mesh avatar as a free hunt prize in the Women Only Hunt, and the Robert full-body mesh avatar as a free hunt prize for the Men Only Hunt. just click on each panel and select “Deliver” from the blue pop-up menu which appears on-screen, and they’re yours for free!

As I have said before, I have found that clothing designed for the Maitreya Lara mesh avatar body fits the Altamura female body very well, with a minimum of fuss. Also, the Altamura female mesh bodies have Slink-compatible feet, so any shoe designed for Slink feet should work well with them (the female mesh body gift comes in three foot heights, selectable via HUD: flat, medium, and high). The bodies have fully-adjustable Bento heads and Bento hands, and (in a nice touch) Altamura has included a hand AO which cycles natural hand positions, which you can use with your regular (non-Bento) AO.

IMPORTANT! There is one key difference between the Women Only Hunt freebie Jenny body and the London City Freebie Megastore freebie Jenny body. The earlier WOH version allowed you to remove the head so you could replace it with any other head. Unfortunately, the freebie Jenny body from the Freebie Megastore does not allow you to remove the head.

In addition to the Altamura freebies, you can also pick up dozens of free dresses and gowns by Snowpaws, in a small store just across from the Freebie Megastore:

Snowpaws Store London City 29 Aug 2018.png

Just walk inside, and there are two full walls of freebie panels to click (here’s a SLURL to take you directly there). Many of these dresses are mesh outfits available in five standard sizes, but note that some are older system-layer clothing. WARNING: One of the dresses on the freebie wall is actually listed for sale for L$100, so please BE CAREFUL and check before you click the Buy button! 

Snowpaws Freebies London City 29 Aug 2018.png

So, drop by the bustling London City sim, brave the lag, meet some new people, and pick up a free mesh body and some beautiful free clothes!

High Fidelity Announces the Ability to Convert High Fidelity Coin (HFC) into U.S. Dollars

I’m taking a break from blogging…yeah, riiight…” O.K., after this one final blogpost, I am taking a break until September 1st! I mean it this time!!! 😉


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It may come as a surprise to some people that you couldn’t do this already, but High Fidelity has just announced that they will now offer users the ability to convert High Fidelity Coin (HFC, High Fidelity’s in-world currency) into U.S. dollars. Up until now, people who sold items on the High Fidelity Marketplace had to keep their earnings within the system, which was a big drawback to content creators who wanted to earn real-world currency.

Philip Rosedale writes on the High Fidelity blog:

This opens the possibility for people to earn real money creating and selling virtual goods and services within High Fidelity. We see this as a vital step in the emergence of a thriving High Fidelity economy: the flywheel of innovation and creativity in any marketplace starts when creators have positive incentives to contribute to the growing body of content for sale. In time, we hope creators will be able to support themselves by selling items in the Marketplace, charging for the experiences they create, and offering useful in-world services to other creators and performers.

We believe the High Fidelity marketplace will develop into a rich and varied ecosystem supporting a broad range of digital experiences. For instance, a user might buy an outfit for their avatar then spend an hour on a guided tour of Korea, before meeting up with friends in a nightclub. Along the way, the clothes designer, tour docent, club owner, lighting technician, and DJ will all be rewarded for their effort, and be able to turn their HFC into U.S. dollars.

Starting this week, we’re taking our first steps to create that ecosystem. Now’s the time to get started creating in High Fidelity.

To prime the pump, High Fidelity is going to be offering incentives for creators:

We’re also excited to launch our High Fidelity Development Fund today, where members of our community can take on projects to extend the High Fidelity platform. There are dozens of features we’re planning to add, and we’re looking to developers in our community to sign up to create them. Of course, we’re planning to pay them for their hard work — in HFC, which they can convert to legal tender.

Here’s how we see this working: we’ve already set up a public group on Telegram which developers can use to contact us about these projects. We plan to regularly post new opportunities to the channel for people to select and bid for. The aim here is to reward our most dedicated members, to accelerate feature rollout, and to inject more activity into the economy, which in turn will benefit everyone.

In this first wave of the Fund, we’re committing 1,000,000 HFC [US$10,000] to fund developers. Use the Telegram channel to bid on initiatives, propose new projects, and suggest new features for the platform. Sign up here to learn more.

Compared to the over 14,000 items already available for sale in the Sansar Store, there are not nearly as many items for sale in the High Fidelity Marketplace, so taking these steps makes sense to grow the High Fidelity platform.

In order to convert your HFC to USD, you will need to provide High Fidelity with your real-world name, address and email as part of the process. You will also need a PayPal account. The actual conversion process does sound rather cumbersome:

Trades will initially be handled manually by our staff using the following process:

  • High Fidelity will publish a calendar through which users can book trading appointments.
  • After High Fidelity staff accept and confirm the time slot they will whitelist the user to visit the Trading Room domain to make their trade. The user will be whitelisted based on their provided High Fidelity account name.
  • High Fidelity staff will take receipt of HFC from the trading user. Payments will be made using PayPal and paid to the email account specified via the appointment booking form. Time to payment receipt will be based on PayPal rules and guidelines. Payments will be made from finance@highfidelity.com.

There is a minimum transfer of 5,000 HFC per transaction. This service is still in beta: and we reserve the right to stop and start or change daily limits or refuse transactions at any time.

Note that you cannot yet buy HFC with real-world currency, although Philip promises that will come soon.

In addition, the company has announced a few new ways to get 3D objects into High Fidelity:

We expect the content put up for sale in the High Fidelity Marketplace to come from a variety of sources. The Marketplace provides a way for users to sell their content with the confidence that their intellectual property will be protected.

Creators who have assets already developed, or who prefer to use go-to applications like SketchUp or Google Poly, can now import them into High Fidelity. We’re officially launching support for these applications and others alongside our trading services now that the entire workflow from creation to monetization is in place.

Check out the High Fidelity documentation on how to add content to the Marketplace.

You can upload FBX and OBJ files to the Marketplace for sale.

UPDATED! The BBC Covers Decentraland: Virtually Making a Fortune?

I will hand it to the folks at Decentraland: for a virtual world that you can’t even visit yet, they are certainly attracting an awful lot of press attention (mostly for their expensive land prices). Today BBC decided to cover the platform on their Trending program.

Titled Virtually Making a Fortune?, the 23-minute BBC World Service radio program offers a good overall introduction to the Decentraland project, especially if you’re new to it.

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I am amused to note that the BBC used a still from the rather misleading “artistic concept” promotional video for Decentraland to illustrate their radio program. (You currently can’t do anything like what is pictured in the YouTube video on the platform.)

The program also failed to mention that you can already use platforms such as Sansar and High Fidelity to build VR-capable, fully-functional, visitable experiences at a much lower cost than Decentraland. As I have said before, spending a small fortune on 10 m-by-10 m plots of virtual land makes absolutely no sense when you can now build up to twenty 4 km-by-4 km experiences for free in Sansar, to cite just one example!

The program also goes into the whole idea that the company plans to build its virtual world and then withdraw, leaving Decentraland’s governance up to the resident landowners themselves. This is a somewhat fascinating but still-untested idea, which may not work out as intended.

UPDATE Aug. 27th: If you want to see some video with your audio, the story has now been placed on the BBC News website: The virtual land selling for millions.

Here’s a direct link to the six-and-a-half-minute news video (press F11 to see it full-screen on your monitor): https://www.bbc.com/news/av/embed/p06j77zq/45275461