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Linden Lab has published the Q3 metrics for Second Life – and done so quite punctually this time around.

If you want the super-short version, Second Life remains on its plateau. The slide in concurrency over the last few years has definitely halted, and there’s no real signs of platform growth among the figures that the Lab makes public either.

The number of completed registrations through Q3 is very strong. That’s obviously not translating into increased usage, however. Key indicators like median concurrency and user-hours are flat and down (respectively). Each signup is a potential retention event – though quite a lot depends on how you define retention, as there are many ways to do that – if we’re talking in terms of usage that shows up in aggregate user-hours, and concurrency figures, then I’d have to say that retention, as a percentage, is down. Maybe way down.

With new signups running between 18,000 and 25,000 per day recently, well that’s an enviable figure. Unfortunately, I figure that puts the new-user retention into the fractions of one percent.

Average-monthly-logged-in-users did rise during the quarter, by 4,000 (or 0.38%), while user-hours declined by about 2 million (or 1.94%). There’s not much of a story to tell there.

The number of economic participants rose from ~463,000 to ~475,000, and the Linden Dollar appreciated very slightly, despite a slight fall in LindeX trading. That’s healthy, but not really what I’d call signs of growth.

Likewise Second Life Marketplace sales growth continues to flatten, with a 42% reduction in growth of sales. Note that that’s a reduction in growth, not a reduction in sales; that’s an important distinction. Marketplace sales were up 2.78% over Q2.

In overall land-area/world-size terms, the Second Life grid shrank by about 20 square kms during Q3 which is just under a 1% reduction, and marks the third consecutive quarter of decline in world-size, a trend for 2011 so far.

Taking a step back, there’s nothing at all wrong with these numbers, taken altogether. Second Life is healthy, according to these numbers, it’s just not growing. Not right now, anyway.

[Second Life official Q3 world metrics]

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