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Increase in Openspace fees a sign of more changes to come?

Are the recent changes in Openspace sim pricing a sign of more price increases to come?

Hrm, okay… so, Linden Lab recently announced some pretty significant changes to their Openspace pricing and policies today on the Second Life blog.  Come January 2009, tier will nearly double, grandfathered class 4 Openspaces (or babysims, as my friend Gogo and I like to call them) will be a thing of the past as they will be made to upgrade to class 5 (and their tier will more than double!), and the up-front cost of a babysim will increase 50%.  Even more interesting is that effective immediately, anyone who owns a babysim can’t turn around and sell it to another sim owner.  Either keep it and accept that your fees will go up, or dump it.

Jack Linden states in the post that babysims were meant for light use, but have ended up being used for much more.  He writes, “Based on analysis performed in August and September, Openspaces are being used about twice as much as we expected, in other words being loaded with double the content/avatar load than we’d expect for a region that is supposed to be light use.”

I don’t know, there’s something kind of odd about this picture.

When the new babysim details were first revealed, it was exciting news for various reasons.  You no longer had to buy them in four-packs and the babysim prim count was being doubled from 1875 to 3750.  Then, when the new Land Store went live a month or so later, up-front costs were slashed by a considerable amount.  However — and I really think this is the most signficant detail of all — if you go back to the March 7th announcement, this crucial sentence was included:

To purchase an Openspace region you will still need to own a normal island already, however you will not have to anchor your Openspace to that region, it can be placed wherever you would normally be able to place an island.

Granted, they do state in that same post that babysims are “intended for light use countryside or ocean”.  But given all the changes in pricing, prim allocations, and rules, I have a really hard time believing that Linden Lab did not foresee people using babysims for more than just a pretty ocean.  I mean, c’mon… did Linden Lab honestly believe that people were going to obtain 65,000+ sqm for relatively cheap, with a nice huge helping of prims, and set the island all by itself on the grid detached from any ‘parent’ sim and then put all of those niceties towards an… ocean??  Really?

Anyways, does this make them wrong for wanting to rectify any misuse that they’ve seen since enacting these pricing and policy changes?  No, of course not.  If current usage habits are causing problems, then by all means take action to fix things.  We don’t want a broken grid, after all.

The thing is, accomplishing this by issuing forth a blanket policy change and price increase, as they’ve done today, seems illogical.  For all the misuse of babysims that’s going on right now, there are plenty of others that are being used exactly as Jack Linden said they were intended to be used — I immediately think of the Metabirds, for example, with their gorgeous expanses of oceans in between the full sims.  To my mind, it does not make sense to penalize sim owners who are using their babysims as was ‘intended’, along with others who are putting strains on the grid.

Tateru at Massively wrote, “The simplest explanations for all of this that fit the observed facts, is that either the March 2008 changes have progressively gutted Linden Lab’s market for regular simulators, or that they’re in need of a large cash infusion for Q1 2009 — or possibly both.”  In light of everything I’ve pondered over so far in this post, I’ve gotta say that Tateru’s conclusion makes the most sense.  Sure, maybe there are a lot of babysims being misused, but I think the real reasons behind today’s announcements are more fiscal in nature than anything else.

If this really is the case, though, that brings up more speculative questions in my mind.  If these changes that we saw today are indeed about the money, then I can’t help but think that maybe this is just the beginning of an across-the-board rise in fees.  Will private estates be next?  What about mainland tier?

Honestly, I’ve never paid much attention to these things before, so I’ve no idea when’s the last time mainland tier fees changed.  For a long time I was just a dumb noob who went dancing at clubs with friends, spent way too much money at Last Call and Ivalde, and would occasionally fuck up her Mod/No Copy prefabs by accidentally dropping a snapshot on the floor prim (oops!).

And you know what?  Being a dumb noob was fun.  Back then, these sorts of announcements from Linden Lab didn’t feel quite so much like we’re being yanked around with little to no warning, or not being told the entire story… well, because frankly, things like tier fees didn’t mean anything to me, anyways.  I kind of miss that.  Don’t get me wrong, I do love working in SL and while I might one day slow down on the amount of work that I do in here, I don’t know that I could ever really completely stop logging in and give up running a virtual business.  It’s just that the way Linden Lab handles things sometimes?  Cools off my ardor for all things SL just a smidgen and makes me question why I invest myself in here as much as I currently do.

Anyways, I guess all we can do now is wait and see whether more prices and fees will go up.

October 28, 2008 - Posted by | Real Estate, SL Grid Issues | , , , , , , ,


  1. To be honest, I’ve been watching this fairly closely as my husband and I have an investment in a few sims (nothing like the barons but enough) and the recent devalue of resident owned sims (lowering the start price of a reg sim to 1000USD and adding more prims to openspaces and lowering that price) almost forced a lot of regular sim renters to convert their regular sims to openspaces. Prior to the openspace price cut and prim increase we had 4 openspaces (you had to buy them in a pack of 4) but after that we had to covert to openspaces and ended up having to buy more people people wanted to rent openspaces instead of regular sims.

    Now let’s discuss this:

    This is a critical bug in the function of openspaces, it was reported right after the new openspaces came out and the introduction of havok4 and YET it has to be fixed. So why penalize users at all when your simulator code has a problem on EMPTY openspaces. I know this bug exists, when I got my openspace I bitched to my husband about the time dilation going to .20 every 10-20 seconds and I said “WTF- what happens when I put a prim down?” I’m sure he saw it on our other openspaces and that is when this jira was born.

    So, while I understand that LL has to make money I also understand that NO ONE is making money right now. NO ONE. Last time I checked- the economy was tanking. So as everyone cuts off non critical needs guess what is going first in both businesses and in residential lives? Yah, discretionary spending such as: Second Life.

    Yes, I’m a bit angry. It’s not about the openspace, it’s about the continual surprise buttsecks in the last two years I’ve seen personally and gridwide.

    Comment by kesseret | October 28, 2008

  2. […] this a sign that more price increases are on it’s way?’ is what Melanie Kidd ponders about over at Grid […]

    Pingback by Linden Lab has it’s business model ass backwards | | October 28, 2008

  3. Well clearly something is off here…sorry but I can’t really get into the idea that LL doubled the number of prims and then made all the other attractive perks…low prices…non-anchoring etc…and DIDN’T anticipate how they’d be used? Plus…THEY doubled the prims…so I mean…is that not like saying…ok this is what we’re planning for…then saying…well you’re using what we planned for and gave you but…you’re OVERUSING so now you’ll be punished.

    Please…you know what…it’s LL’s product. If they want to charge more for it…fine…that’s their perogative. Just don’t blow smoke up our keesters as though we’re too stupid to read between the lines.

    Just say it LL: Sales of full sims have gone down as a result of the popularity of babysims…and now we’re gonna force customers to pay for a marketing mistake we made…BUT…we don’t wanna admit that so we’re gonna spout bs ‘reasons’ instead.

    Comment by Kit Maitland | October 28, 2008

  4. I was questioning the non anchoring thing earlier, I am so glad you brought it up. It does not make sense at all to have been selling sims not joined to the mother sims that you supposedly had to have to own one.
    Very valid in the point of, who would pay tier to put water or trees in the middle of water? having a getaway for most people usually means some kind of house, studio etc, so if not anchored it was always going to be used for that little more.

    My concern too is people are already abandoning,, when these changes aren’t happening until January, I am very afraid people will take advantage of people or worse, people will abandon and then the lab rats will do a 360, if you can 360 once you can do it twice.

    xox Sasy xox

    Comment by Sasy Scarborough | October 28, 2008

  5. […] Grid Expectations: Increase in Openspace fees a sign of more changes to come? […]

    Pingback by Es rumort in Second Life®! | Cyberwelten | October 28, 2008

  6. Sorry one more thing, who the hell chose Jan 1st as the day to do this, that person should be ashamed of themselves, way to ruin Christmas and New Years, I know it doesn’t make much difference if it happens, when it happens, but that date is just wrong I.M.O

    xox Sasy xox

    Comment by Sasy Scarborough | October 28, 2008

  7. I agree with all of the above posts. Attempting to look at it from LL’s pov, they do have a probable financial need to finance the move to this fiber-optics replacemen of the VPN. There was a rumor that some people were getting 7000 prims per OS, not sure how. And the use of OS for clubs, malls, etc put a strain on asset servers as well as TP issues. I think they are saying that OS will now be seen as a luxury item. The idea is to remove the profit motive thus reducing the desire to ‘cheat’. This way they dont have to spend resources to monitor misuse, even though they say they will,it reduces the number of OS sims down from 12,000 as people abandon them or use them for their intended, not-for-profit use. OS sims price-per-prim per week is 2.1, much higher than Private Estate at 1.239. People shop by price per prim…seemingly….mostly, so few if OS sims will be left with renters paying 67% markup. Expect: 1) lots of OS sims abandoned, 2) converted to Private Estates, 3) demand for Private Estate land to rise 4) possible rental price increase to to increased demand

    Also have a plan ready in case SL decids to raise the tier on Private Estates from 295 to 500 USD per monrht

    Comment by Lat Lovenkraft | October 29, 2008

  8. […] Melanie Kidd (explicit language at points) […]

    Pingback by Linden Lab Raising Tier on Openspace Property « Around the Grid | October 31, 2008

  9. (Melanie could you please delete my first comment ~ there’s a typo in my website address.

    I agree with just about everything that’s been said.
    As for the Jan 1st price increase, I’ve spoken to a few sim owners (including the owner of my sim) and I’ll be paying the increased price from the end of this month, as LL charges one month in advance…

    I purchased my “baby sim” from a couple of friends who run a successful business. They offered to help me move from the hideous estate sim I was living on. I paid the $250 setup and they charge me the $75 USD a month LL charges them.

    I’m using my baby sim as my home and I’m the only resident. I have the occasional visitor, but I bought the sim to be alone. The sim is not listed in search and has a limited number of ‘allowed’ visitors.
    I’m not using all of my prims (Ha, I haven’t had a chance ~ I’ve only been there 3 months!) but I’d expected to use about 3000. I’ve spent more than 100,000L on beautiful, copiable low prim trees and plants and landscaping supplies.
    Two days before the price increase was announced I finally found the house I wanted (coming in at a grand total of 87 prims) and purchased it.
    I’d planned to keep about one third of my baby sim water, have a small house and create my own mini Chakryn Forest… I’ve invested so much time, money and thought on this project that Jack Linden’s announcement has hit me like a punch in the stomach.

    Did the powers that be at LL seriously believe that *ANYONE* would have purchased an Open Space sim with 3750 prims, only to leave it empty *AND* pay $75usd a month for the privilege?
    If that was the intention the sims should have come with a covenant.

    Incidentally, Linden Lab was actively encouraging my friends to buy MORE of these sims not long ago. I checked two days ago and Baby Sims were still advertised at the old price at the land store.

    I’m so angry I can barely string a sentence together ~ so apologies if this comment/rant is incoherent.

    Comment by Eurydice Barzane | November 1, 2008

  10. […] my last post in regard to the upcoming babysim price hike, I’ve had a few more conversations with friends and some interesting points were made.  A […]

    Pingback by May I have a price break, too? « Grid Expectations | November 1, 2008

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