Sunday, October 14, 2007

Second Life in perspective: A round-up of 50 virtual worlds

If you relied solely on the mainstream media for your knowledge of online trends (more fool you), you'd be forgiven for thinking there was only one virtual world. Second Life has hoovered up huge swathes of column inches and airtime over the past 12 months (see earlier post on the Second Life media frenzy) with only the occasional nod to World of Warcraft or Habbo Hotel.

However, there's much more to virtual worlds than Second Life. Immersive online environments are a huge growth area, as demonstrated by the below round-up of 50 virtual worlds, ranked by approximate user numbers (with a few, for which I couldn't source viable user data, tacked on the end). It's worth stating that the approximate user figures are just that: approximate. Gleaned from a wide range of different sources, they are mostly self-reported and cover a multitude of differing definitions. I've tried to reconcile the figures wherever possible to try and reflect number of active users rather than number of avatars or visitors to the website, although many will still be way off base.

In terms of trends, the kids market appears to be a significant growth area and that's without including avatar chat sites (e.g. IMVU, Zwinktopia) or the growing legion of pet/doll sites (e.g. NeoPets, GoPets, MyePets, Be-Bratz, Stardoll).


World of Warcraft
http://www.worldofwarcraft.com/
Blizzard Entertainment
Launched: 2004
Approximate no. of users: 9m

Habbo Hotel
http://www.habbo.com/
Sulake
Launched: 2000
Approximate no. of users: 7.5m

Nicktropolis
http://www.nick.com/nicktropolis/
Nickelodeon
Launched: 2007
Approximate no. of users: 5.1m

Runescape
http://www.runescape.com/
Jagex
Launched: 2001
Approximate no. of users: 5m

Club Penguin
http://www.clubpenguin.com/
New Horizon Interactive / Disney
Launched: 2005
Approximate no. of users: 4m

Knight Online
http://www.knightonlineworld.com/
MGame Corporation / Noah System
Launched: 2004
Approximate no. of users: 4m

Barbie Girls
http://www.barbiegirls.com/
Mattel
Launched: 2007
Approximate no. of users: 4m

Coke Studios
http://www.mycoke.com/
Studiocom / The Coca-Cola Company
Launched: 2002
Approximate no. of users: 4m

Gaia Online
http://www.gaiaonline.com/
Gaia Interactive
Launched: 2003
Approximate no. of users: 3.5m

MapleStory
http://www.maplestory.com/
Wizet / Nexon
Launched: 1999
Approximate no. of users: 3m

Dofus
http://www.dofus.com/
Ankama Games
Launched: 2005
Approximate no. of users: 3m

Guild Wars
http://www.guildwars.com/
NCsoft
Launched: 2005
Approximate no. of users: 2m

Whyville
http://www.whyville.net/
Numedeon
Launched: 1999
Approximate no. of users: 1.7m

Second Life
http://secondlife.com/
Linden Lab
Launched: 2003
Approximate no. of users: 1.5m

Disney's Virtual Magic Kingdom
http://vmk.disney.go.com/
Sulake
Launched: 2005
Approximate no. of users: 1.4m

Disney's Toontown
http://play.toontown.com/
Disney
Launched: 2003
Approximate no. of users: 1.2m

Mokitown
http://www.mobile-kids.net/
Neue Digitale / Daimler
Launched: 2001
Approximate no. of users: 1.1m

Lineage / Lineage II
http://www.lineage.com/
NCsoft
Launched: 1998
Approximate no. of users: 1m

There
http://www.there.com/
Makena Technologies
Launched: 1998
Approximate no. of users: 1m

BOTS
http://bots.acclaim.com/
Acclaim Games
Launched: 2006
Approximate no. of users: 1m

Webkinz World
http://www.webkinz.com/
Ganz
Launched: 2005
Approximate no. of users: 1m

AlphaWorld
http://www.activeworlds.com/
Active Worlds
Launched: 1997
Approximate no. of users: 900,000

Entropia Universe
http://www.entropiauniverse.com/
MindArk
Launched: 2003
Approximate no. of users: 600,000

Virtual MTV
http://www.vmtv.com/
Makena Technologies
Launched: 2006
Approximate no. of users: 600,000

Virtual World of Kaneva
http://www.kaneva.com/
Kaneva
Launched: 2004
Approximate no. of users: 600,000

Final Fantasy XI: Online
http://www.playonline.com/ff11eu/
Square
Launched: 2002
Approximate no. of users: 500,000

EverQuest / EverQuest II
http://everquest.station.sony.com/
Sony Online Entertainment
Launched: 1999
Approximate no. of users: 500,000

Faketown
http://www.faketown.com/
Identity Play
Launched: 2001
Approximate no. of users: 500,000

Dubit
http://www.dubitchat.com/
Dubit
Launched: 2001
Approximate no. of users: 500,000

Cybertown
http://www.cybertown.com/
Integrated Virtual Networks
Launched: 1995
Approximate no. of users: 500,000

Playdo
http://beta.playdo.com/
Playdo
Launched: 2000
Approximate no. of users: 400,000

Eve Online
http://www.eve-online.com/
CCP Games
Launched: 2003
Approximate no. of users: 200,000

Yohoho! Puzzle Pirates
http://www.puzzlepirates.com/
Three Rings Design / Ubisoft
Launched: 2003
Approximate no. of users: 200,000

Lord of the Rings Online: Shadows of Angmar
http://www.lotro.com/
Turbine, Inc.
Launched: 2007
Approximate no. of users: 200,000

Star Wars Galaxies
http://starwarsgalaxies.station.sony.com/
LucasArts
Launched: 2003
Approximate no. of users: 200,000

City of Heroes / City of Villains
http://uk.cityofheroes.com/
Cryptic Studios / NCsoft
Launched: 2004
Approximate no. of users: 180,000

vSide
http://www.vside.com/
Doppelganger
Launched: 2007
Approximate no. of users: 150,000

Ultima Online
http://www.uo.com/
Electronic Arts
Launched: 1997
Approximate no. of users: 135,000

Dark Age of Camelot
http://www.darkageofcamelot.com/
Mythic Entertainment / Electronic Arts
Launched: 2001
Approximate no. of users: 125,000

The Sims Online
http://www.ea.com/official/thesims/thesimsonline/
Maxis / Electronic Arts
Launched: 2002
Approximate no. of users: 100,000

Xivio
http://www.xivio.com/
Xivio
Launched: 2006
Approximate no. of users: 22,000

citypixel
http://www.citypixel.com/
citypixel
Launched: 2006
Approximate no. of users: 20,000

Teen Second Life
http://teen.secondlife.com/
Linden Lab
Launched: 2005
Approximate no. of users: 5,000

Westward Journey II / Fantasy Westward Journey
http://corp.163.com/eng/games/westward_journey.html
NetEase
Launched: 2002 / 2004
Approximate no. of users: ??

Scions of Fate (Yulgang)
http://fate.netgame.com/
KRGsoft
Launched: 2006
Approximate no. of users: ??

Legend of Mir II / Legend of Mir III
http://www.legendofmir.net/
WeMade Entertainment / ActozSoft
Launched: 2001
Approximate no. of users: ??

MU Online
http://globalmuonline.com/
Webzen / K2 Network
Launched: 2003
Approximate no. of users: ??

HiPiHi
http://www.hipihi.com/index_english.html
HiPiHi
Launched: 2007
Approximate no. of users: ??

GalaXseeds
http://www.galaxseeds.com/
Frima Studios / Corus Entertainment
Launched: 2007
Approximate no. of users: ??

Virtual Ibiza
http://www.virtualibiza.com/
Lightmaker
Launched: 2002
Approximate no. of users: ??

16 comments:

Thomas said...

DOFUS RULES!
http://www.dofus.com

SuezanneC Baskerville said...

You might want to add Novoking in there, and get ready to put uWorld there.

The old Blaxxun world Cybertown might should be added if I didn't just overlook it.

Great list, by the way.

Pranab Sharma said...

Wow .. excellent compilation !

Gwyneth Llewelyn said...

Excellent compilation indeed, except, of course, for the "ranking". Of all the platforms shown, the only one that publishes its statistics officially is, of course, Second Life...

The criterium of counting basically "active users" is a long tradition tracing back to the early days of the Internet, when ISPs regularly cheated by creating "lots of mailboxes" to give the press a more impressive number of users. From a technical point of view, what was important was the number of active users on the database — since those were the ones effectively using space on disks, and the infrastructure had to be planned for those potential number of users, not for the ones that effectively used the service (free Internet access, which popped up in 1999 to quickly disappear after the 'net bubble burst, completely wracked the smaller ISPs because of this...).

The big popular social web sites still use that metric. MySpace boasts 200 million users. How many of them have updated their page last week or so? We have no idea. The same applies to Facebook, Ringo, Hi5, Friendster, eBay, PayPal, YouTube, Amazon, and so many more. Every active user on the database is a potentially returning customer, but we have no statistics on how many are effectively using all of those services. WordPress .com says that 1.6 million users created a blog on their site, and 2 million downloads were made of their free software. How many blogs with WordPress have been updated (or, well, read?) in the last week? Nobody knows.

MMORPGs usually tend to display a different statistic: number of users that effectively pay a monthly fee to the company running the MMORPG. This is easily accomplished for things like, say, WoW, where every customer is a paying customer. Second Life, on the other hand (and definitely not the exception here!) has mostly non-paying users. So how should these be tracked, since being a "user" doesn't actually "tie" that person to a commitment with the platform? Someone that logs in every other month — is that an active user or not? (this is actually the number that is quoted for Second Life — a statistic that is openly and clearly published, without tweaking numbers)

Hard to say. When these virtual worlds start having "hundreds of millions" of users, the numbers will not be relevant any more, just like the total number of cellular phones or email addresses are not relevant any more, since we're talking about "billions"...

Steorling said...

Hmm, interesting list. Not wanting to be the one that cries "Hey, but you forgot my favorite!"...I'm going to suggest one addition. Anarchy-Online is one of the most successful and social MMORPG's in existence; and, yet, it didn't make a list of virtual worlds peopled by the likes of knightonline ? 0.0 Okay, I'll keep my gasp as inaudible as possible and hope that it was simply an oversight.

Matthieu said...

great post, very interesting. i am currently trying to figure out the active users number of habbo, club penguin, barbie, vside... and if possible their ARPU. can you help me on how you found those numbers and if you have an idea of the ARPU?
thanks a lor

Will Gordan said...

Greetings, this is Will here and I have been playing MU Online for over 3 years. Gameplay has been fun especially for the in-game events and meeting players from all over the world is a big plus too.

If you are looking for free high quality MU Online game guides, I highly recommend this website I found a few months ago:

http://www.gamevictory.com/mu-online.html

They have a good collection of full length guides on most aspects of MU Online including power leveling, item hunting and winning game events etc.

I personally like the fact that their guides are easy to digest and more importantly highly effective. Being a veteran player myself, I still managed to pick a few handy tricks and tips.

Hope this helps and if you are playing on Midgard server, feel free to pm me for my IGN if you need party members for leveling.

tendamon said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
StarDoll.Style said...

If you wouldnt mind could i have your runescape accont because i cant sign up for some reason. idk why

scrowtman said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
rhtehe said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Anonymous said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
yanhui said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
qwe said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Anonymous said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.