Second Life's unbelievable growth

A few weeks ago I was completing my article for OutreachMagazine.com about the ministry opportunities within Second Life. It had been a while since I checked the growth and what I found were some unbelievable stats. Last July I wrote about Second Life and at that time they had about 200,000 "residents" so when I was doing the research for this article I thought the number was probably up around a million or so residents. Instead here's what I found:

October, 2006 - Second Life reached 1 million registered accounts
December, 2006 - 2 million registered accounts
January, 2007 - 3 million registered accounts
February, 2007 - 4 million registered accounts
March, 2007 - 5 million registered accounts
April 25 , 2007 - 5,858,000 registered accounts

Let me begin by apologizing. I really felt bad when I saw these numbers because I should have been paying closer attention over the last six months. I'd written about Second Life several times in the last few months but hadn't been tracking the amazing growth. So, I'm sorry to all seven of the MicroExplosion readers. Please forgive me.

Ok, now that that's behind us, let's look at this growth. It's truly astounding. They've been growing by one million registered accounts per month since October. At this rate they'll have 14 million registered accounts by January 2008.

And let's not fool ourselves into thinking that Second Life is the only virtual world out there either. There are two active virtual worlds/games for children ages 5 to 12. The first, Club Penguin has an average of 1.6 million children playing each month. Another virtual world for children, Webkinz, has an average of 870,000 children playing each month. In both cases, the numbers are growing: Webkinz had almost 2 million children playing in December, 2006 and Club Penguin had almost 3 million players in January, 2007.

So what does all of this mean? Well, at the very least virtual worlds are becoming quite the reality for an increasing number of the population. For businesses, this means there are literally new worlds to tap for growth (remember, Second Life has it's own form or currency). For churches and ministries, there are new places to connect with people for the message of the Gospel. This may very well be the beginning of new missions strategies, new outreach tools, and new methods of discipleship. I've heard it said many times that the message of the Gospel will never change but the methods for communicating it always will. Somehow I don't think the author of that statement had virtual worlds in mind...but I'm sure he would agree it applies here as much as anywhere.


cynthia said...

As the parent of a child who plays Club Penguin (which I assumed was a niche game) maybe I should pay more attention if there are a million and a half other kids on there.

mdave said...

Honestly I don't see that appeal to 2nd Life. Logged in and looked around and never went back. Only people hyping 2nd Life is 2nd Life Geeks. Said in the best way..I'm a geek. I look at blogs similar...i blog and only started reading blogs after I had my own. My two cents.

I enjoy your blog keep it going.