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Two Important Updates on 2011 Land Pricing

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Nelson Linden

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In February of this year, we shared our 2010 land pricing plan where we discussed pricing and policies for private regions and  addressed grandfathering, transfers, and retail pricing. In the spirit  of giving you as much advance notice as possible about changes that may have an impact on your plans and budgets, here are two important updates on 2011  pricing:

1) All retail private region maintenance, including grandfathered pricing, is expected to continue without increase through Dec. 31, 2011. 
What you pay now, as a retail customer, is what you’ll continue to pay through the end of 2011.

2) We will adjust how education and non-profit advantages are provided, effective Jan. 1, 2011.  
All  education and non-profit private regions of any type, purchased after Dec. 31, 2010, will be invoiced at standard (i.e. non-discounted) pricing.  All currently discounted renewals which occur after Dec. 31, 2010, will be  adjusted to the new price at that time. To continue to provide  entry-level, private spaces to educators just launching their programs,  we will be providing Homestead and Open Space regions to qualifying  organizations without their meeting the retail full-region criterion. Customer Support will be available to answer any questions that you may  have about these changes.

We  hope that these announcements help you effectively plan for the coming  year. And, we’ll continue to update you well in advance of any  additional pricing changes.

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This is quite disappointing.  With non-profits closing and down-sizing all over the country and educators struggling to provide more with less resources, this is just another blow to those organizations that provide valuable supports and services.

Way to punch 'em while they're down!

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I help design and maintain educational sims and I have no words to express my horror at this. Some of us are operating on grants and it has been a difficult enough road to secure approval and funding. Our hopes are to get the universities and colleges to continue some of these projects after grant funding runs out, and they have taken many hours of time effort and love. This move will simply kill these initiatives.

After courting and encouraging educator presence, I cant believe you would turn around and let us down like this.

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what about pending approvals for the coming year?  those that have given the proper documentation requirements. Will LL hold off on those approvals pending til 1/2/2011 in order to no longer grant that pricing for 1 more year to anyone?

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Many people join SL to interact with the Non-Profit and Education communities.  And they go out and buy things. They join the economy.  No, not all of them, but I have seen members of those communities shell out some pretty impressive amounts of $L.

If those communities leave or migrate, the people who came here to interact with them will do likewise.

Linden Lab is determined to kill the Goose that laid the Golden Egg.

They are also lying to us, I believe.  They keep saying the company is in good financial condition--but this flies in the face of that.  The two statements cannot reconcile.

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In what universe is does giving less than three months' notice to educational institutions with annual budgets that are surely established by now qualify as "the spirit of giving you as much advance notice as possible"? Seriously?

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I Would think that this is the only way LL can think of at the moment to continue to keep the total landmass paying for itself when the going was good LL could offer nice discounts but I personally would have looked at keeping none profit untouched by looking more towards getting abandoned land on mainland reused and even offered it free by auto setting it for sale for 0ls so someone could simply buy it and try to limit abandoned land causing fragmentation in a sims potential revenue too many abandoned lands earning LL zero return even up to half a sim or more sits wasted in a full sim for years wheres the logic in that?

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hi Maria,

We're all for conversation about the decision outlined in this blog post, but your comment is merely advertising for a competing service, and as such it contravenes our discussion guidelines, so I'm going to delete it, sorry!

Wallace

Oh Wallace, promote why your product is better, don't paint yourselves as being afraid of competition.

Don't talk about fight club.

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I suppose this price announcement should come as no surprise, but to a sensible person it still does.  We have laboured since 2006 to build interest, content, and community on our 4 Univesity sims, starting back with a little 4096 plot.  We are just past our 2011 budget processs, and there will be zero opportunity for us to revist them now.  Clearly noone ever likes a price hike on service - particularly when service is not improving - but to see double the price in one stroke of the pen is compelling reason for any non-profit/education institution review the stability of the company who would make such a decision.

Fortunately, there are strong and quite postitive alternatives that are emerging.  I'd be happy to share ideas with others on this, and to acquaint you with our work around an international open-source hypergrid.  Contact me at sladmin@auckland.ac.nz

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Land in SL is already extremely overpriced as is, even at the "grandfathered" pricing.  I wonder on what basis they feel raising prices is 'needed'; if anything, they should be lowering fees.

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Ding ding ding!


The problem is that LL is a corporation driven by profit numbers. Profit is the bottom line. They are used to x revenue and they want to see 'growth' each year. Sometimes companies lay off workers to make the bottom line appear bigger to shareholders.

LL should lower prices, but they probably won't. Once a company is used to a certain amount of incoming revenue, dramatically changing the pricing plans is a big gamble and they would lose money in the short term. If they could only see past this and realize a new pricing model is in order for long term growth of Second Life. Not lowering prices in the long term could be a serious problem for LL's long term health as a company.

This is just my opinion.

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They have to make money to remain in business.  Granted.

The sad fact of this remains that they'll force many nonprofits and educational institutions to cut their holdings, resulting in little or no revenue growth.  Those on grants are royally screwed, in the middle of a fiscal year.

Faced with far lower prices on OpenSim grids, educators should just leave.  We have talented creators in our midst and we can rough it while we build the content we'll need to run our simulations and meeting spaces.  I hope that social users join us in the protest too, because they'll be after you with fee increases next.

Inworldz is looking pretty good now for social users, isn't it? Just as Reactiongrid and its kin are going to get a windfall from an edu-exodus.

Nelson, I am sorry you pulled the short straw and had to share this news. But hey, they'll sack you with the next layoff anyhow. Nothing personal, I'll sure they'll say as they show you the door.

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The Board of Virtual Ability would like to express our deep disappointment with today’s announcement from Linden Lab.  As a member of the non-profit community, we have been active in Second Life for three years, and currently own five sims.

We intend to remain in Second Life, as our services here are central to our mission.  But we will likely need to scale back.

Regardless of any financial sense behind this decision,  there are multiple negative implications that make us only shake our heads sadly:
     * Education and non-profits provide an incredible maturity and diversity to the SL ecosystem.
     * Through our outreach, classes and networking, we constantly bring in new residents to SL.  We’re some of the best advocates the Lab has.
     * The timing in conjunction with the recent announcement about the Teen Grid, leads us to wonder if  - once again - the Lab's left hand does not know what it's right hand is doing.  Which institutions are going to be able to afford to be in Second Life and work with these new teen residents?
     * Approximately 20% of the total population in Second Life has some form of disability.  The more than 70 health support groups here are at greater risk of being unable to participate and provide their services.
     * Resources that Virtual Ability was planning to spend on participation in the Snowstorm initiative will need to be redirected to tier costs.  This is bad for Linden Lab's publicity, and their potential for growth in markets that are subject to the regulations of Section 508 (or similar policy in other countries.)

More than anything else, education and non-profits are darn good for Linden Lab’s business.  Which headline is worth more to Linden Lab’s future prospects, growth, and profitability:  “New Gorean Roleplay Sim Opens in Second Life”, or “University of ABC Expands Second Life Presence”, or "First Winner of Linden Prize Priced Out of Second Life"?   The amount of good, free publicity Virtual Ability, Inc. and all the other non-profits have provided to Linden Lab over the past few years has far exceeded the discount we’ve received on our islands.

We hope Linden Lab will seriously reconsider the implications of this policy.

Gentle Heron
for the Board of Directors of Virtual Ability, Inc.

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People in Second Life tend to forget that Education is not profitable.  At one time there was education in SL sponsored by LL.  There was a mentor program sponsored by LL.

All gone.

The only budget in question is Linden Labs.  The only jobs considered inportant are those in Linden Labs.  (Of course only 1/3 as important as they used to be.)

The question I have on all the recent counterintuitive moves by Linden Lab is when will a former employee come forth and tell what drives some of this thinking.

I'm glad we have one grid now for the teens and one grid for those fleeing from them. Alice Cooper said it best, "Schools out forever."  At least in Second Life.

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Hi there LL!

It is becoming obvious from the impending closure of Teen SL and doubling prices for educators and not for profits within an unreasonable time frame that your business model is evolving.

Please enlighten us as to what the new model is.  We can so far see that this brave new business model does not value education and social welfare projects as adding value in a way significant to users.  Just let us know what future you envision so that those who can still afford to have a choice can make one.

To you educators and not for profits, the choice is one of finding service providers who do value organisations and projects that promote social good while still reaching your target audience.  I hope you all choose to go for options that can be linked up to other grids so that the sharing and collaboration that used to epitomise Second Life can continue.

Regards

KerryJ
aka Pandora Kurrajong
tw kerryjcom

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Anyone in a virtual world ie >Second Life is most likely aware of any existing competiton, If not, this increase in pricing to non-profit land owners is certainly motivation enough to "google" for options. nuff said

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Hiyas,

Regarding content migration to other grids: I recently ported dozens of scripted devices to an opensimulator environment that uses the Xscript engine.  No serious problems.  The scripts work fine.  This is a quite an improvement over a year ago when the recommended fix for the script engine problems was.. and I kid you not...  "run one script per region".

In terms of general reliabilty, the Linden grid still has the edge over opensimutors.. so be prepared to restart your opensim regions frequently.. and.. oh yes... the land management restart operation may crash the region.. so you may need admin login access to the server... or rely on your server's tech support response cycle. 

Don't expect a lot of help from opensimulator.org.   My impression is that they are understaffed and overworked, and therefore unresponsive.   Don't expect a lot of documentation on the more obscure aspects of the the opensimulator, for example, setting up scripted email functions.  If you want to know how the deeper things work, be prepared to read the C# code and figure it out for yourself.

If you encounter bugs with your opensimulator system, don't expect a lot of help from the issue tracking system unless you are able to provide it with your simulator's GIT or SVN source set identification number.  If you have no clue as to what that means... well... good luck getting a response from them.

des/demona

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Let's summarize the big LL events of the past few months:

  1. Layoff of +30% of staff, including Enterprise & Education evangelist/coordinators, and closure all International offices
  2. Layoff of Commerce Director just before a scheduled release of a new online Marketplace
  3. Elimination of the Enterprise business product
  4. Reduction of both premium and standard support to US business hours, outsourcing of helpdesk staffing, increase in wait times for live support to 1/2 hour or more, and handling of tickets to 8+ weeks
  5. Elimination of the Teen Grid, with plans to bring minors to the main grid
  6. Termination of Community Gateways without notice
  7. and now...elimination of discounted pricing for Universities and non-profits, with insufficient notice for budget planning

Surreal.

Since we've also eliminated gamblers and other "unsavories," who exactly do we think is going to be left to pay the tier, exactly?

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as far as other grids go .....might be interesting to find out who really owns who (and what)..before all is said and done.

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LL has been trying to leverage volunteer labor for a while. The Resident Help Networks, the Community Gateways, the Open Source projects: all of these were attempts to get people to volunteer their time to a for-profit corporation.  All things considered, they were pretty successful at getting people to volunteer, but LL doesn't have a clue how to work with or manage volunteers.  They routinely abuse them, in fact.

So, now the Non-Profits are considering moves to other Grids.  Some of those grids really need volunteers: Tech-Savvy people with a passion for virtual worlds who can make things work.

Non-Profits understand Volunteers, how to recruit them, how to use them effectively. Some better than others, it is true.

When those Dedicated Volunteers decide to stop giving SL their free labor and take it elsewhere, they will take their money with them.  As they should.

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Linli and others

While I applaud your need to put a brave face on things I can predict with 99.999% acuracy (purer than Ivory soap) that your meeting on Friday will go something like this.

* The sim will lag out because of the hundreds of angry avitars trying to get in.

* Logic will be on the side of the educators and non-profits - The power switch will be in the hands of LL employees many of whom probably had bad educational experiences as teens.

* The Linden will speak - he will not hear

* What the Linden will say - will not be a single thing that can be confirmed, tied down, or verified - except your price increase.

* It is sad that in the dozens of meetings I have attended they have all gone this way.  The Linden (and I use that term interchangeably because they all use the same rhetoric) will pretend to take notes.

I have been here for years, my University has a site here that is always under criticism about whether it is a tool or a game (that has now been answered, it's a game, not one we are playing). In the last several years people have talked about leaving and never have because there was always something to see, something to do, something to learn.  If your viewer works and you can see the large tracks of yellow (for sale) or purple (abandoned) sims you can see that the things to do are rapidly disappearing.

A comment on one of the other blogs here today summed it up nicely.  One of the bloggers wrote, "Mesh and these improvements are a huge improvement I can work offline at my desk without coming into second life and I can sell things through the market with only a MINIMAL investment.  That is the Second Generation of Second Life speaking.  Spend minimum time in world and maximize your profits.  The Children of Linden are growing up.  They don't have to be educated, they don't have to live here, they don't have to spend much to make money.  Who is going to be left to sell things too?  You need to own land to open a box, especially when the schools and free sandboxes go away.

No schools, no learning environments, no altruism, no common sense.  Second Life has become a modern urban utopia.

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Rumor has it Microsoft placed a bid to buy secondlife recently, so knowing Bill Gates is heading up the education programs in america.....hold on........dont jump ship just yet...the best is yet to come ...you can google it.........and think about this Bill Gates got us this far, so maybe he can take us to even higher realms here in secondlife....but rumors are not fact..soo it was neither confirmed or denied..and Secondlife is the most advanced virtual world out there thus far. Its no good to you to have 10 free sims  if no one can get there, or if no one can move around "If" they do get there and as those other worlds advance ..so will their prices! Go visit them check out those other worlds I have..all the big land barrons from SL are already there waiting to zap you when you transfer too.... Knowledge Is Power

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What a wake up call.

Like most academics, I will not be renewing any of my 3 islands as they come due at the higher (double) price in 2011.  I may not even renew the islands that will come due later this year - what's the point if I'm going to be exiting anyway?

I am curious - who exactly does Linden Lab think they have lined up to take my place?  Has anyone at Linden run the numbers or are they blindly shooting from the hip? By driving away paying educational and non-profit customers, Linden will be losing those who have consistently presented Second Life to the world in a positive way.

What is very annoying about all of this is education users' financial investment in content, developed by others, that will be held hostage in Second Life as nonprofits quit.  As others have noted here, collaboratively developed content, or any full perm content that I myself did not create, can't be exported to OpenSim. So, like many other academics, I am stuck with a significant financial investment in development work that cannot be moved out of Second LIfe.  Essentially, Linden Lab has demanded a 100% increase in rent from me, and will effectively seize my property if I don't pay it. There is a word for that, and it isn't pretty....

So, my plan is to finish up my projects as fast as possible, exit Second Life, find an alternative, and not throw any more good money after bad.

It's a real shame.  Second Life had such promise.  While the press ridiculed SL's decline as businesses ran away in 2007, non-profits and education institutions maintained their presence and support.  Without major companies, universities, and non-profits, Second Life will become an increasingly uninteresting place to be.

Of course, there is always the hope that Linden Lab will read these posts and realize they have made a VERY BAD DECISION that can be still be corrected, if management is willing to admit their mistake and step up to the plate.

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This is actually a better entry deal for Education and non profits than full estates. I'm envious of openspaces and homesteads without the buy-in requirements of a full estate.

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