Grid Expectations

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May I have a price break, too?

price break

Well, it seem that the whole Openspace thing has REALLY set some people off.  Wow.  I’ve peeked in the forum thread and there was definitely a mob mentality in there earlier; I’m amazed we didn’t see posts like “OFF WITH JACK LINDEN’S HEAD!!111”.  o.o  I can’t help but imagine what it must have been like for Jack Linden, sitting there in his office, the blogpost all neatly typed out and carefully worded, just waiting for that fateful stroke on the Enter key… I wonder if he had any idea just how emotional and angry people were going to be over this?

Since 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 friend of mind had observed that there were 13,000 babysims.  Yeah, that’s a LOT.  Making that number even more significant is the number of sims on the entire grid, which I think she’d said was 32,000.  Take away the Linden sims, and that leaves 26,000.

In other words, babysims make up just about half the grid.  Since they make up such an incredibly huge portion of the grid, the question begs to be asked: is the revenue currently produced by these babysims in line with the costs incurred?

In Jack Linden’s October 29th post to the blog, he states “We’re not saying that everyone is abusing resources. We are saying that the use has changed, and continues to do so as people find more creative ways to use them. So the revised pricing is about recognising that change of use and the additional costs and value associated with it.”

Additional costs?  I never really understood what kind of costs are involved other than buying the hardware, keeping it stored in a proper facility, and performing maintenance, and I’m guessing most other residents are in the same boat as me.  Okay, I can understand maybe needing more $ to pay for the physical space for storing the new hardware, and hiring more people to take care of the hardware or possibly paying overtime for existing staff to manage the added burden.  But did this really warrant a 66% price increase?

It was pointed out to me that another very real cost bandwidth consumption.  To put things in perspective, let’s look again at the amount of sims on the grid.  On February 13, 2008 (I would’ve preferred to find April’s numbers but I don’t know where to find that info so I used the wayback machine and this is what I got), there were 12,633 islands.  As of this writing, the Economic Stats page says there are 26,573 islands.  This would probably represent a HUGE jump in bandwidth consumption, especially if people are using their babysims for working and playing house, nevermind the clubs and malls.  I can’t say for sure how much bandwidth is used exactly, but one guesstimate I heard was maybe a terabyte for a babysim with a mall sitting on it.  I tried googling the subject and the most I got was Tateru Nino saying “a simulator can consume a ferocious amount of bandwidth”.

So… in light of all this, I have to concede that I can understand the price increase.  I think Linden Lab could stand to hire some experienced PR; if they’d taken more care with the way that previous announcement had been worded on their blog and had explained a bit more, I’m wondering if people still would’ve reacted quite so angrily as they did.

And, oh yes, that image that I slapped at the top of my post.  🙂  Ever since the babysim announcement, several friends have been faced with the decision to keep their babysims, drop them, or have them converted to full sims.  I don’t know, given the fact that the pricing is being increased by such a drastic increment, you’d think they’d be willing to cut loyal residents some slack and waive a conversion or moving fee, or two… but no, they aren’t.  And yet someone like Barb Carson is getting $100 USD discounts every month by paying grandfather tier rates on Class 5 sims?!

I understand wanting to ‘take care’ of your biggest clients and I know that Barb certainly ranks up there as one of the biggest, but really, if they can afford to give her huge breaks like this every freaking month then surely overlooking a $150 move & rename fee — which pretty much HAS to be done because of the new pricing policy — wouldn’t be too much for Linden Lab to absorb?

November 1, 2008 Posted by | Real Estate, SL Grid Issues | , , , , , , , , | 3 Comments

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 | , , , , , , , | 10 Comments