Wednesday, January 03, 2007

When is a resident not a resident?

Recent articles about Second Life claim it has a million or more "Residents(TM)." Mainstream media assumes this means users or players... in other words, humans. Details are sketchy, but the true number of players for SL is more like a couple tens of thousands. Obviously, they are counting characters (or "avatars"), accounts, or some other interesting statistic. This is a huge discrepancy, examined in more detail here.

The media's lack of fact-checking seems to be the result of a desire to find something "trendy," and more Second-Lifers means the trend is trendier. A million "Residents(TM)" is sexier than 20,000. I won't take the time to discuss how lousy the mainstream media is these days at reporting anything correctly.

Of course, this is all spin and marketing. But it makes you wonder about the "7 million players" of World of Warcraft. Is that players or characters? Does that count each account as a separate "player" (some players have more than one)? I know that I joined (and quit) AOL twice... did they count me as a user even though I never "used" anything but a free trial? Am I still counted (twice?) in whatever aggregate number of millions of users AOL claims today?

As the old saw goes... figures lie and liars figure.


Mkae said...

According to Blizzard, that 7 Million number is "subscribers". They count anyone who uniquely opened an account, whether or not they actually paid. Meaning, that if 100 people passed their 10-day free trial to 100 other people, who then did NOT continue to play after the 10 days, they still consider that to be 200 accounts.

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