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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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What a shame that the non-profit and educational spots on SL are given such a blow when focus and attention was going to be brought in on the excitment of virtual worlds and SL education with big linguists like Chomsky coming to the grid for speeches...Drawing more educators in, encouraging other big thinkers and professors to explore Secondlife as a resource.

Still, I'm sure this change in policy will give him something to talk about..

I've noticed less and less educational sims on the grid in my own browsing for places to learn, I put this down to fees already being difficult to manage for the institutions and tricky to justify when there's such a high learning scale and graphics capability for students/student PCs to get involved.

It will be sad to see many more SL educational institutions downscaling or leaving the grid.

Aside from the hike in prices for the non-profit sims (coupled with the major downsizing of support) will LL be doing anything to try and maintain these non-profit users or give them a boost? Further advertising perhaps?

Nice to see that for other private sim owners prices will not be raising, if prices had raised that certainly would have been a knockout blow to many residents.

Whilst we're on the subject of land and prices, when is the blog about the highly secretive ATLAS PROGRAM becoming available?

Residents have been waiting for months now to see this promised-in-office-hours 'transparency' in action...

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Hmm ... is this so bad ... i don't know ... maybe we can get back to what SL is great at ... Sx, Rock&Roll and violence.   Seems like trying to play to the educators was keeping SL some kiddy playground ... everythings so PC (I still can't figure out the nudity stuff ... as a art region owner, I'm totally confused by what is adult).

This concept that SL is a charity is wierd too, I have to pay tier ... why shouldn't others.

I do feel the budgeting pains of the educators, doubling costs right now is impossible to budget.

Wierder though, Hardware costs drop in half about every year, why is tier even staying the same, if it was me, i'd have dropped tier in half ... for all (wouldn't have pissed off the educators too much, and would have brought in new land owners)?

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Wierder though, Hardware costs drop in half about every year, why is tier even staying the same

 

Everything else has increased, utilities, insurance, wages, supplies, advertising. Hardware cost may drop but the actual cost doesnt because it takes more and more to run to keep up with  increased demands.

Remember the dial up days when you dialed up into a shell acct and there was no WWW as we know it, but you used Lynx to browse what passed for web pages back then?

You dialed up with a 2400 modem, a cheap PC cost $895 with a 132 meg hard drive, 4 megs of ram , floppy drive, and a 2400 modem. You'd never get IN to the internet so to speak on that junk today!

You will still spend about $895 for a pc today, or more because now you must have broadband, a terrabyte drive, DVD player and all the rest just to be able to keep up with the newer content and graphics rich streaming videos.

You might think cost for hardware has gone down, but not when you factor in constantly having to upgrade and replace. A 2 year old PC is already almost obsolete, it's all designed that way to keep the dumb sheep constantly having to replace software, hardware and printers or you get left behind rapidly.

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Shockwave Yareach  says                                          in response to                                            Nany Kayo:

If you are leaving Nany, please take the teens with you.  After all, you've repeatedly said how welcome they will be with you...

 

LOL that's great Shockwave, I'm really enjoying this thread knowing how karma comes around.

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Shockwave Yareach  says                                          in response to                                            Nany Kayo:

If you are leaving Nany, please take the teens with you.  After all, you've repeatedly said how welcome they will be with you...

 

LOL that's great Shockwave, I'm really enjoying this thread knowing how karma comes around.

Seriously, you're going to just sit here and gloat about the loss of education in SL because you got personally peeved at one provider. You clearly have no understanding of karma.

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I think you totaly missed the point everyone is making in here...a lotof educators have a set budget that they get in Aug/Sept of every year for the NEXT year and LL tosses this new plan out in OCT.

Everyone in here is bright enough to know that it costs money to run a place like LL..that is not the issue..the issue is they way they announced it..now alot of eductaors wont have the money to keep operating in SL..so they will either have to shut down or find other alternatives that they can afford.

They have to plan for things unlike LL who just decides to throw everything at the wall and see what sticks and what dosent.

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This really looks like the beginingof the end. I'm one that usually supports LL's decisions being they in their house. As a private estate owner, there's not much to complain apparently. but it's only because SLMarket and Linden Homes screwed up our business long ago. Now, my experience of twenty years as a consultant in several software houses and IT companies tells me that somehow LL has took the path to their end. But as far as i know, they are not idiots, so i think it has been planned, as i saw  several times companies consciously driven to collapse.  It's normal and i'm not going to blame management as i'm sure that such policy has very good reasons behind. I'm sorry for the LL employees that will have to find a new job in a short, but for sure they are skilled people and they will. I don't have the passion and the time i had almost 4 years ago to live a second life wether in Sl or any alternative way. Anyway, i'm setting up my open sim right now. While downloading, i thought to say my 2 cents. Good luck everybody.

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So in otherwords, nothing really new happening in Land side of things next year, no larger sims or creaion of a teen/PG continent, or rreal reasons to bother staying in the rental business....................

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Ah, so THIS is the alternative offer for educators who were complaining about the closure of Teen SL and the barring of 13 to 15 year olds on the Main Grid.

Congratulations, LL. If your secret (or not so secret) agenda is reducing the number of customers (and therefore, maintenance expenses) drastically, you are being very successful.

I wonder what your next smart move will be to kick the rest of us out of your grid.

Sandor

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It is sad Arwenna to see someone like you so totally disillusioned, SLENZ is so well known, but you are only saying what the rest of us are feeling.

I know that my University will not be able to pay the increased costs.  At present I'm running things on a grant and I did have enough to carry on for another year (which would give me time to try and raise more money) but this hike in costs will mean will probably have to leave at the end of this calendar year.

I have worked hard to help my University see the value of Virtual Worlds for education and for the wider skills learners can develp there.  Unfortunately SL has just shown the educational establishment how unreliable they are.  I'm not certain the managers in Universities will be willing to take the risk of student disruption (let us not forget the National Student Survey results) and potential loss of kudos that using Virtual Worlds might cost them.

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Jump off the non-profit band wagon.........charge tution fees from each student..just like the universities do in real life

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As an educator, and active administrator in maintaining a major European university (over 14,000 students) presence in Second Life I am not impressed with Linden Labs so called business strategy.

Yes I am upset and disappointed about this incomprehensible call of action from Linden Lab.

I usually speak positively about Linden Lab and Second Life during my classes and seminars, trying to promote and bring more institutions, corporations and residents into Second Life, but it seems I will have little to say in the future. Anything postive that is...

Universities, and non-profit organisations, not only bring new residents into Second Life in form of students and business associates connected to immersive education, but also educate all these students in how to use Second Life, how to navigate this virtual world and interact with others.

In cases more often than not, these new residents will take on their own virtual life, and want to fund their account with real money and purchase a home, on virtual land.

Residents created Second Life, this is how Linden Lab pays them back?

What happends to all the non-profit organisations who are dedicated, devoted and give their heart (not to mention hundreds of man-hours unpaid work) to help new residents in form of guidance, arranged classes and exhibitions? They join other virtual worlds where maintaining an educational institution, or organisation, is cheaper.

What happens to all the wonderful artwork, museums and galleries  in Second Life who is currently available for anyone to watch and be immersed in? Artists and galleries must beg for money?

What happens to non-profit projects who use Second Life to support and help disabled people suffering from dyslexia, aspergers syndrome or other disabilities? We ask the disabled to pay our bill?

What happens to residents when there is nowhere to go for amusment, immersive learning or mutual colloboration? They leave Second Life!

The Black Swan was a monumental landmark for artistic creativity, and so was The Greenies. The Scottish castle which was built to it's real-life counterpart, or the moonlanding sim, not to mention The Second Louvré, these have all, like many others, left due to high maintainance costs.

A non-profit organisation in particular is vurnurable to funding from external sources, and once the funding stops due to high costs, the presence of that organisation will vanish (join another virtual world).

We do not expect to pay for learning how Second Life works, and if we  are eventually forced to pay for it since there are no help areas, no classes or building tutorials available, how many new residents will then  join? How many old residents will stay once there is nothing new to learn?

If you think that universities and non-profit organisations will stay regardless of paying double the price; we won't.

Who cares about learning anything anyway, education is nothing important and the future is all about money, money and money.

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Like Nika, I'm puzzled that the price hike for non-profits wasn't  communicated in any form to larger customers in advance of the public  announcement.  Perhaps that's an idealistic approach -- everybody learns  at the same time, a level playing field -- but it's an unusual way to  do business.  (Pro tip: Reserve good news for surprises; bad news should never come as a surprise.)

It's possible, I suppose, that this is advance warning of  some more dire turn ahead.  We may all look back and think: "Those lucky  non-profits, they got out while the getting was good."

Surely this wasn't an overnight decision.  The announcement has  very little rationale for the decision, so the reasoning behind it is  left to our imagination.  (Your World. Your Imagination.®)  So, one might imagine:

Perhaps the discounts were always too deep.  Is this  true?  I honestly don't know, but they seemed incredibly generous, to an  outsider.  Do all suppliers of non-profits typically provide such attractive discounts?

Still,  though, if the discounts were just too big, why didn't LL merely scale  them back to an industry-standard level (whatever that may be)?

Perhaps the abuse was just too widespread and too  difficult to control.  It may be hard for "good non-profits" to get  their heads around this, but there's a dirty little secret: not all  non-profits had clean hands in all their SL dealings.  In general, there  are 501©3s exploiting some gaping "art", "education", and "research"  loopholes in the registration criteria.  Add to this the SL-specific  practice of having paying tenants of non-profit sims.  Even some of  those "good" non-profits had such tenants, on the premise that rent  payments were just donations to the non-profit.  That may sound  reasonable, but consider the reductio ad absurdum: for-profit tenants and non-profit sim owners in fact could be the same person.  Corporation as "alt" in legal real life.

This  kind of nonsense had been going on for a long time, deeply distorting  the SL market.  Perhaps it was spreading.  ("You're paying full price  for your sim?  Are you crazy? Let me show you how to save a fortune!")   Perhaps it was bad enough to jeopardize whatever advantages LL was  getting from the discounts.

But this is all speculation.  It would be nice if LL could clarify the reasons behind the change.

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You really have no idea do you - you're as bad as Doggie!  The Universities in SL are Universities in RL.  They already charge their RL students a lot of money so they can provide said students with good learning experiences.

May be that is part of the plan - increase prices to RL students so that Univeresities once again become the exclusive strongholds they once used to be!

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my point exactly ---they do  charge a student lots of money in real life..too much...soo why should they get a break here to benefit their cause at LL expense

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"Seriously,  you're going to just sit here and gloat about the loss of education in  SL because you got personally peeved at one provider. You clearly have  no understanding of karma."

Thank you, ninjafoo. We educators may seem like whiners since we got a deal others did not.  But I've no confidence that social users won't next see a doubling of their tiers.

LL can do whatever it wants when a contract renews. Just you wait.

And I feel bad that some edu-prude interfered with doggie's roleplay, whatever the heck he was up to. Yeah, my Dean would understand that one:

Dean: "I hear that prices went up in that Second World game you use."

Iggy: "Um, that's Second Life."

Dean (shuffles windows on his computer until invoice pops up): "So now we have to pay $300 monthly for a fake island?"

Iggy: "Well, it's renting server space."

Dean: "You pay $700 annually for that online scheduling system you use for over 2000 students each year, right?"

Iggy: "Yes, and we get instant phone support and technical trouble-shooting for the data on their servers."

Dean: "What does this Linden Labs company provide for our $3600?"

Iggy: "Not so much."

Dean: "So buy a server and talk to I.T. about support. On your three-year replacement cycle that's a lot cheaper. Get one of our in-house grants to attend a training class on running this OpenSim thing."

Iggy: "I like that idea."

Dean: "Say....you mean someone can be a dog in this Second World...Life thing?"

Iggy: "True."

Dean: "And what would a dog do in Second Life?"

Iggy: "What dogs do in real life, but talk and fly too."

Dean: "Get in touch with purchasing about that server."

It is best that we leave SL. Seriously. If we are going to seem serious to the world beyond we need to bid a fond goodbye to social users. We don't let y'all use our intranets or a lot of our Web 2.0 content. It's for the paying customers called "students" and our colleagues on the faculty and staff.

Goodbye and thanks for all the prims, LL.

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Qie, you make some very good points....yes, the discounts were too deep, and yes, the abuse was too widespread. How many of the educational sims are actually being used at capacity? I suspect very few. They may have a great presence in SL, with fabulous builds, but is the special pricing they enjoy paying off in the long-run for SL? Are they really bringing new residents here? Maybe a few, but not what the special pricing was hoping to promote.

I know this doesn't apply to all the educators, and I also know that some are very dedicated to their work here. But the system has been gamed for too long...by so-called non-profits and educators alike. The truly dedicated will stay and tighten their belts like the rest of us. Instead of multiple sims, maybe you can get by on two homesteads or one full sim. Yes the homesteads have fewer prims and can only support limited avs, but the land size is the same. I think that LL giving them that option without having to own a full sim is a good solution.

LL is not a non-profit company, and SL is not a charity.

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Perhaps the abuse was just too widespread and too  difficult to control.  It may be hard for "good non-profits" to get  their heads around this, but there's a dirty little secret: not all  non-profits had clean hands in all their SL dealings.

("You're paying full price  for your sim?  Are you crazy? Let me show you how to save a fortune!")   Perhaps it was bad enough to jeopardize whatever advantages LL was  getting from the discounts.

But this is all speculation.  It would be nice if LL could clarify the reasons behind the change.

Qie, I totally agree with you, and yes, it's all speculation, but it's the first thing that popped in my head as well.  And if this is the case, it's just too much red tape the LL's would have to go through to figure out who's legit and who is not.. Not to mention other countries non-profit policies and procedures. *sighs*  It's really a shame tho, that everyone has to suffer.  But if this is one of the main reasons for making this move, my hands go up in the air for SL. Oh Well..

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lemme see, price for a sim is 295 bucks right?

you guys run quadcores and put 4 sims on one core, so you run 16 sims on one computer.

thats 4720 bucks a month, per server. (enough money to buy 4 quadcore computers a month)

 

wow i can´t believe you can continue with this low price in in 2011 o0

does that mean phil can´t buy a new island in the carribeans next year? o0

no porshes for all lindens?

aww thank you lindens!

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Does this mean LL has no intentions of closing or filing bankruptcy until at least 2012? The rumors Tatero Nino are spreading are getting fairly depressing. Perhaps some sort of word from the board of directors explaining the state of LL and future plans is in order to silence the SL wake some have already commenced with such zeal and glee..

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SL is going downhill.   I don't get it, as they want to bring the young  kids in (13-15 year olds) for education purposes and yet the very time  they intend to bring them in, they are bumping up educational land  fees.     How do high schools afford land tiers?    

Or is bringing the young kids in just an excuse, and one more step to erode the adult content from SL

One  person commented that the increase in prices may be to pay for the  added security programming that is needed for the kiddies.  If so, as  she suggests, higher education facilities are going to lose out,  just for the sake of a much smaller percent of high school kids, who  could have gone elsewhere, as some higher education/non-profit  organizations will now be forced to do.  

Seems LL has no idea of the process (and difficulty) of getting grant money, nor how it can be used etc. 

Yet LL won't increase the tier fees for the land barons, or those with  grandfathered tiers.  What makes these people more 'special' than the  entire educational / non-profit community?

Pity all the educational / non-profit organizations couldn't amalgamate,  as a group they would have the same "pulling power" as these individual  land barons, to get a reduction in their monthly tier, like the land  barons do.

Why can't the educational / non-profit organizations be grandfathered in at a comparative rate?

It's not only the educational sims LL will be losing, but the associated Premium  accounts.  The education community has also created some amazing things  over the years, and I'm guessing we can say goodbye to this also.

LL certainly do know how to shoot themselves in the foot (or higher up it seems lately).

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As tongue-in-cheek at this conversation with the Dean is, it is exactly what has been happening this PAST year BEFORE this rate increase announcement. If you don't think so, call any university and ask their Second Life support staff. Better yet, go to the New Media Consortium website and read how they started seriously looking at converting to OpenSim starting two years ago. For educators and non-profits, the cost-to-product ratio was slightly different between Second Life and OpenSim but not enough to tip it one way or the other. This huge price increase, however, will completely unbalance that ratio in favor of OpenSim for educators. In other words, OpenSim is the only option that will fit the budgets and needs of education and non-profits who want to maintain a Second Life-type experience. If that is still too complicated to understand, think of it this way; you can't buy a $10 toy with a $5 bill. Get it?

In reply to those who feel the education sims are a waste of space and not occupied frequently, you are right. These sims are for educational purposes, a place to learn, hold classes, and use as a lab. They are not used 24/7, cannot sell items or collect rent, and are not meant for entertainment. That is what justifies the reduced pricing on the school side. On the other side, Linden Lab benefits tremendously from schools. Each semester hundreds (thousands) of students world-wide have to mandatorily discover Second Life for their classes. That is better than any suggestive advertising. Don't forget too that Linden Lab gets to write off the discount as a non-profit donation.

As I see it, standard residents better get ready for a rate increase soon because this change for educators is going to cost way more than it makes. Non-profits will simply leave for what they can afford in OpenSim. That will cause Linden Lab to have fewer regions and fewer new residents. Less income + fewer residents = greater cost per remaining resident = rate increase.

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Dean: "So buy a server and talk to I.T. about support. On your three-year replacement cycle that's a lot cheaper. Get one of our in-house grants to attend a training class on running this OpenSim thing."

Hmmm.  Considering what I've heard about the accounting practices in education and non-profits, I can see that actually happening.  But it certainly wouldn't advantage the institution as a whole.

It's very expensive to introduce a new and idiosyncratic application, running on standalone hardware, with heavy network demands, unspecified security needs, frequent updates, and "support" by self-serve source code inspection.  Way, way, way more expensive than the undiscounted LL fees.

But if a department can hide its real costs in some other (IT) organization's budget, it very well might, assuming that IT organization is dumb enough to take it on.

So, what are the options, really?  I can think of four:

  1. Pay the undiscounted fees for the same service.  Not a very popular choice at the moment, but it's an option.  For all but the most specialized non-profits, even the new SL fees will be buried in the noise of the institution's operational budget.  Undoubtedly, however, many projects involving SL are specialized enough that it's a non-trivial budget item; those projects may not be viable with the new pricing.
  2. Switch to self-hosted OpenSims.  As outlined above, I personally think this is almost never the most cost-effective solution for most non-profits.  On the other hand, one can imagine individual educators (and grad students) taking on the care and feeding of an OpenSim server hidden under a desk somewhere.
  3. Use an OpenSim hosting provider.  To me, this seems fraught with peril.  Historically these come and go even more frequently and abruptly than SL rental Estates, so picking a provider that will last through a funding cycle won't be easy to do with confidence.  (I'd be especially suspicious of any that start up now to serve this market, or those that sell aggressively into it now with plans of rapid expansion.  It's just a too-perfect set-up for the unscrupulous to take the money and run.)
  4. Find creative ways to scale back use of SL resources.  Like the rest of SL, most non-profit sims sit nearly idle nearly all the time.  Is it really necessary to maintain full sims, all the time, for all the organizations who currently use them?  It seems to me that an organization with an established reputation (e.g., Non-Profit Commons--although they appear to be scaling back themselves) could coordinate scheduled access to a core of full-primmed sims for large gatherings, with satellite Homesteads owned by individual non-profits.  This won't work for everybody, of course, but it may be an option for some, and may even benefit the constituent organizations.

It's probably obvious that I find the fourth option most interesting, inasmuch as there's at least the hope of some silver lining there.  There are surely other alternatives.  This would seem a good time to constructively explore creative approaches to dealing with the new situation.

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Why on earth did you bother putting all that effort into sorting a solution for migrating TG educators, just to pull the rug from under them a week later?

It's obvious that LL are cutting costs to the bone - firing 1/3 of the workforce, getting rid of the Teen Grid and Avatars United, no more subsidised sims for non-profits and educators, cutting support to barely-there levels ... I can't decide whether LL are hanging on by their fingertips, are polishing up their profitability before they sell or are simply incompetent.

... Customer Support will be  available to answer any questions that you may  have about these  changes.

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