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Linden Lab Revises Rebellion-Causing Price Hike

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wildstar-in-winterfell-librisA week after Linden Lab said it was raising the cost of buying and maintaining much of the virtual land in Second Life, leading to open revolt among many users, the company has significantly revised its pricing policies. Citing enormous customer feedback, Linden CEO Mark Kingdon laid out the revision today on the company’s blog.

At issue are the fate of so-called “Openspaces,” Second Life regions where wilderness and open ocean predominate. Such regions were designated for “light use” when Linden put them up for sale earlier this year, but that term was somewhat ambiguously defined, and what happened next is a case study in the challenges inherent in managing user-generated content. Many residents began building massive constructions and businesses on their Openspaces, causing unexpected server load. Meanwhile, others kept their land use comparatively light, adding Openspaces to existing property to buy a better view, for example, or to use as extra space for virtual sailing and other activities. No one was happy when the company announced the price hikes, but the light users in particular felt unfairly penalized.

In the revision, Openspace owners who comply with these regions’ original intent will be exempt from the increase, but will have to abide by technical limitations that Linden Lab is now implementing into their world’s server architecture, to insure they’re kept light use. Those who don’t comply will eventually pay the original price hike. So far, the virtual world’s user base seems largely receptive to the change. In an unscientific survey on my Second Life blog, reaction currently runs overwhelmingly positive, with nearly 70 percent describing themselves as satisfied — though much of them, just begrudgingly so.

Image credit: “Libris no more,” by Wildstar Beaumont.

7 Responses to “Linden Lab Revises Rebellion-Causing Price Hike”

  1. I’d say it’s more like 70 percent NOT satisfied. “In the revision, Openspace owners who comply with these regions’ original intent will be exempt from the increase, but will have to abide by technical limitations” WRONG. When you are buying 3000 plus prim for 75 bucks a month, and now are told you get 750 prim instead for that 75 bucks, plus you can’t run any scripts, number of people that can be on the area is HALVED, you re NOT exempt from the increase. You are getting less than HALF of what you paid for, so you are paying more than TWICE as much for what you have. — I do not own an Open Space. I own a regular Island. But I was really close to buying an OS and know many people who did buy OS, and there is not one of them who invested money in good faith into Linden Labs who is not being ripped off in the most unethical set of policies as I’ve ever seen occur in Second Life. Shame shame SHAME on anyone trying to cover up the real truth of the matter. If someone had done what LL has done to it’s residents to you or your loved ones, I doubt you would say such nice things about it.

  2. S Petrov

    “a case study in the challenges inherent in managing user-generated content” — I’m sorry, but where are you getting this idea from? It sounds rather inappropriate, given the circumstances.

    Linden marketed these sims very aggressively last spring. The company doubled their capabilities on their own initiative, which allowed them to make great profits. These spaces come complete with 3,750 prims, permissions to rent them, and capacity for many, many avatars. It is very disingenuous to expect that buyers would not rent them to other users for profit. It is silly to think people would not place homes and businesses on them. If you read about the history, Linden had previously inflated prices on privately owned full-prim islands (causing many renters to lose their investments). These spaces were the most economical form of real estate in Second Life, but lots of real money was paid for them. Of course we would build on them.

    Linden is on legal thin ice because now it is rewriting the deal after these sims were paid for with $250 up front and $75/month for several months. Countless hours have been put in. They contain virtual homes, businesses making real dollars, real-world universities and non-profits settling on them, and whole communities built around them. Many of the most creative and enthusiastic users of this service have lost faith.

    There are alternative services beginning to take shape on the Internet. Some people are simply voting with their feet… Hopefully within a couple years there will be a serious alternative for people who want to enjoy the experiences SL has given us. It is still a huge tragedy that so much beautiful content is about to be lost; Linden could have simply invested in what was already selling well. Most users report no unusual problems that could be traced to these sims. SL has never been perfect for stability, but it is easier to believe that a constant addition of new bells and whistles is the problem. That is, along with a failure to reinvest profits in basic features.

    Now, by producing new rules out of thin air, Linden is making products already sold less valuable and denying its customers numerous uses. In particular, they are planning to cut off use as rental property. This will deny hundreds of us locations in Second Life, no matter what we were doing with them. It also seems to hint that rather than fixing any so-called “overuse,” Linden may actually be trying to force everyone else out of the land business.

    If this continues, how many experienced users will be left with the courage to place anything on land in Second Life?