Starting late last month, the published statistic that showed an unprecedented ongoing reduction in Second Life land area was disabled (perhaps permanently, the Lab hints). The raw data is still available, however, and the decline continues.
We've had no luck in obtaining response or comment from Linden Lab about any of this, but Wagner James Au at New World Notes has fared rather better. However the statements from the lab are fairly tangled and unclear.
The Lab claims that the figures misreport, which is technically true. All of the statistical systems give incorrect information at least several times each month, but according to Jack Linden, the numbers are actually sort of correct, and indeed even skewed slightly in the Lab's favor (the reported losses have been far smaller than expected) -- but just misunderstood.
"There have been far more Openspaces converted back to full regions than have been abandoned, which of course looks like a loss but strictly speaking isn't," Jack told Au. And indeed, owners of groups of four Openspaces simulators can convert them to one full region. A loss of 196.6 thousand square metres -- or a reduction of US$5/month in gross revenue -- per conversion, whichever way you prefer to look at it.
Essentially, we think we are to understand that the 75% reduction in land area per conversion does not constitute a reduction in land-ownership commitment in Second Life. That has the bonus of actually being true, as the cost for a single full simulator is only US$5 less per month than a group of four of the Openspaces 2.0 simulators.
However, yes, the numbers -- while still apparently somewhat favorable to the Lab -- are still misleading. That is, there's no indication of the numbers of simulators converted versus the number abandoned, without which almost nothing useful can be inferred. Those are numbers that the Lab must inevitably have to hand (in order to process billing, if nothing else) but is not revealing -- and that's essentially why the numbers are misleading.
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