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Chic Aeon

What would YOU do if you were Linden Lab?

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I see a ton of folks b****ing and moaning over the new changes.  I am not thrilled either as I will be paying about $150 more each year. BUT personally I don't see a better plan.

So what EXACTLY would you do if you were The Lab to "balance the spreadsheet" so to speak?

Decisions that impact one set of people don't impact another. Is it fair for one group of people to take on the new burden and not the others?

If you have some stellar ideas --- let The Lab know. Maybe they will take that into consideration in the future. Remember Linden Lab is a BUSINESS. It needs to make a profit or it just disbands. So the "give me 500 lindens stipend now" and the "give alts a discount on costs" topics just aren't going to cut it.

 

Personally, while not excited about new plan I can see MANY other alternatives that would be worse.

So give it your best shot --- or maybe just be quiet.

 

Always choices. 

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8 minutes ago, Chic Aeon said:

or maybe just be quiet.

Telling people to sit down and shut up isn't going to cut it either. No, those weren't your exact words but that is what you are saying. Sorry, but in the US we do have freedom of speech and on this forum only LL has the authority to tell someone to sit down and shut up.

What I'm getting at is don't be surprised if you get pushback for that comment.

As for a business plan... that's going to take a while. I've had a bit of experience in starting up a business or two in RL and good business plans aren't hashed out overnight. They can take months to research and write up. I was lucky and able to do mine in a few weeks. For a company the size off LL it will take a good bit longer.

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2 minutes ago, Selene Gregoire said:

What I'm getting at is don't be surprised if you get pushback for that comment.

Here is the pushback for your comment.

 

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For starters? Drop Sansar entirely and downsize everyone involved in that failure.

I'd also have people try to optimize groups so they aren't a massive resource hog. It's incredible how long it took for group title script abuse to be stopped.

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Beyond providing me a free region, and $10,000L a month.. I am not sure :)  

Honestly though, I have no clue.  I'm just happy SL is still here, and I get to spend time in it.  I mean, I would be happy with a free region and $10,000 a month too.  

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if I was the owner of SL ?

Super Premium - includes a homestead in the price

would transfer quite a few private estate homestead renters directly onto my books. Which is what I would want as the owner. The wider my direct membership the more I can ameliorate my risk.  At the moment the viability of my business is dependent on a relatively small number of large estate holders

to ameliorate the transition for estate owners. In return for allowing Super Premium to own homesteads directly, I would give estate and region owners, homesteads at somewhere between 50%-70% the rate of the Super Premium, so that the estates can continue to offer homesteads at a comparable rental rate, allowing them to still maintain their own profitability

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What would I do? Well, for starters I'd do exactly what they're doing. As we know they want to push towards a more subscriber-based model, and rightfully so IMO, so it makes sense to decrease the benefits free accounts get. I'm also good with paying more for my premium account and I'm really looking forward to hearing about whatever the new tier is going to involve.

Secondly, and the PG people will hate this, but I'd quit trying to hide the adult side of SL and pretend it doesn't exist. I would look at many different marketing campaigns for many different segments and streams of potential customers. The joy of SL is the variety of options and the adult side of it is huge. There is enough room for everyone, even if they start marketing to certain segments of people who would only come into SL for the naughty stuff. Whenever I visit an... er... adult video site, I'm bombarded with sidebar ads for adult games and virtual worlds, and they are all crap compared to what you can do in SL, especially when it comes to the visual of how an avatar looks. 

That isn't to say they ignore the PG side as well... sure, market to the... okay, I don't know where to market that since it's the side of SL I'm decidedly NOT interested in and have no idea what the appeal of it is, but since there are apparently people who don't have SLex, I'm sure there's something that brought them to SL... 

Anyway, yeah... that's what i'd do. I'd quit trying to pretend that SL doesn't have a thriving and vibrant adult scene and capitalize on that. 

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I'm afraid any idea I came up with would be killed by the Law of Unintended Consequences.  Which is probably why I am not running a multi-million dollar virtual world business.

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I suppose I’m just failing to grasp why all these changes are happening. Why mess up something that was grumbly before but now all the dogs are out and there’s not milkshake to be had in any yards?

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Just now, norajulian said:

I suppose I’m just failing to grasp why all these changes are happening. Why mess up something that was grumbly before but now all the dogs are out and there’s not milkshake to be had in any yards?

Because LL is a business and their expenses increase just the same as every other business (or individual) for that matter and their employees might want cost of living raises every once in a while. 

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1 minute ago, norajulian said:

I suppose I’m just failing to grasp why all these changes are happening. Why mess up something that was grumbly before but now all the dogs are out and there’s not milkshake to be had in any yards?

Because there is a ceiling at which point LL has to downsize in order to operate. That ceiling is currently dictated by number of regions owned rather than active population. Number of regions is on a decades long slide. 

These changes are not something they have come to lightly, if anything the fact it's taken this long kind of makes it clear just how big a decision this has been.

Re-balance their income or die trying.

 

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1 minute ago, Beth Macbain said:

Because LL is a business and their expenses increase just the same as every other business (or individual) for that matter and their employees might want cost of living raises every once in a while. 

Calm please. Being that my RL niche is economics, I fully grasp this concept. However, they are increasing things and lowering other things and I fail to see how it doesn’t even out. Granted, I suppose they had to cause some sort of an uproar to get more paid memberships, but one would hope they’d at least had enough of the new premiums in attempt to soothe the masses in some way. The logic isn’t working for me. 

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goals for the business have to be

  1. Reduce Costs
  2. Increase revenue
  3. grow the user base
  4. grow the bottom line

Its a fine balance getting there though

  1. Reduce cost- going to the cloud should help with that
  2. Increase revenue-pricing balance (tricky)
  3. grow the user base- add new features and reasons for people to become premium (Bellissaria is a good example) reducing land costs are all part of it
  4. grow the bottom line - Hopefully increasing offers and making the platform more stable will help accomplish this

For me, I would reduce some of the land areas (continents) , perhaps push them closer together to make them sailable/flyable. eliminate some of the lesser used continents and perhaps later add new ones as demand increased (Sharp/Gaeta 1 come to mind) realizing there are folks that own land there, they would have to come up with suitable options to appease them as much as possible

Edited by Heathernorton

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1 minute ago, CoffeeDujour said:

Because there is a ceiling at which point LL has to downsize in order to operate. That ceiling is currently dictated by number of regions owned rather than active population. Number of regions is on a decades long slide. 

These changes are not something they have come to lightly, if anything the fact it's taken this long kind of makes it clear just how big a decision this has been.

Re-balance their income or die trying.

 

This is understandable. Thank you! Perhaps I’m simply missing the breakdown explanation somewhere. I freely admit that I know very little about servers and regions and the like, but I’ll be doing a little research. Having been in SL for nearly 13 years now, I’m probably long overdue. 

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One approach I'd consider to actually make money: I'd hire creators, starting by trying to buy out some of the bigger ones who show consistent work. They make money convincingly for themselves, and LL, why not take them under the wing? I mean literally offering to buy Maitreya, Belleza, etc., as improvements to the default avatars would be a good place to start, and the game appears less janky to newcominers. If they could not be bought external artists would be hired/commissioned as needed. By controlling the actual content less money would slip out of SL as creators cash out, it would just be part of the budget people are paid. Ultimately I would have LL directly selling avatar components for the now stellar looking default avatars, as well as subscription benefits.

Edited by Desudesudesuka
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Hang on so are you saying that the default avatars are now stellar or meaning that if LL were to purchase Belleza./slink and so on?

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25 minutes ago, Beth Macbain said:

Secondly, and the PG people will hate this, but I'd quit trying to hide the adult side of SL and pretend it doesn't exist. I would look at many different marketing campaigns for many different segments and streams of potential customers. The joy of SL is the variety of options and the adult side of it is huge. There is enough room for everyone, even if they start marketing to certain segments of people who would only come into SL for the naughty stuff. Whenever I visit an... er... adult video site, I'm bombarded with sidebar ads for adult games and virtual worlds, and they are all crap compared to what you can do in SL, especially when it comes to the visual of how an avatar looks. 

That isn't to say they ignore the PG side as well... sure, market to the... okay, I don't know where to market that since it's the side of SL I'm decidedly NOT interested in and have no idea what the appeal of it is, but since there are apparently people who don't have SLex, I'm sure there's something that brought them to SL... 

Anyway, yeah... that's what i'd do. I'd quit trying to pretend that SL doesn't have a thriving and vibrant adult scene and capitalize on that. 

Linden Labs biggest mistake was not separating Adult accounts from everyone else.  There should have been a total separation.  Flagged adult accounts should have had their own servers and unable to communicate or see non-flagged adult accounts.  They could still do it, but it's going to cause a lot of backlash and technical problems now.

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1 hour ago, Mollymews said:

if I was the owner of SL ?

Super Premium - includes a homestead in the price

would transfer quite a few private estate homestead renters directly onto my books. Which is what I would want as the owner. The wider my direct membership the more I can ameliorate my risk.  At the moment the viability of my business is dependent on a relatively small number of large estate holders

to ameliorate the transition for estate owners. In return for allowing Super Premium to own homesteads directly, I would give estate and region owners, homesteads at somewhere between 50%-70% the rate of the Super Premium, so that the estates can continue to offer homesteads at a comparable rental rate, allowing them to still maintain their own profitability

I've probably heard something similar before but letting the masses snag a homestead without having to own a full prim region can't be the worst idea.

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1 hour ago, CoffeeDujour said:

Because there is a ceiling at which point LL has to downsize in order to operate. That ceiling is currently dictated by number of regions owned rather than active population. Number of regions is on a decades long slide. 

These changes are not something they have come to lightly, if anything the fact it's taken this long kind of makes it clear just how big a decision this has been.

Re-balance their income or die trying.

 

From what I have read lately regions are no longer on a slide so you might want to research that a bit more OR show us your source of info.  

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1 hour ago, Chic Aeon said:

So what EXACTLY would you do if you were The Lab to "balance the spreadsheet" so to speak?

It's easy to come up with a quick answer to that, much harder to find a serious, well thought out one.

I would have tried to find a way to encourage people to have land on the old mainland continents rather than the opposite. At least I would have reduced the tier for mainland so it followed the changes in private estate prices.

I might also have introduced two or more "levels" of paid memebrships, I'm really not sure about this.

But I have a feeling at least one of these will happen fairly soon anyway.

 

48 minutes ago, Desudesudesuka said:

One approach I'd consider to actually make money: I'd hire creators, starting by trying to buy out some of the bigger ones who show consistent work. They make money convincingly for themselves, and LL, why not take them under the wing? I mean literally offering to buy Maitreya, Belleza, etc., as improvements to the default avatars would be a good place to start, and the game appears less janky to newcominers.

If LL wanted to upgrade the default avatar, they could simply do exactly that: upgrade the default avatar. No need for them to mess around with laggy mesh avatars at all. This is a topic that pops up every now and then on the forums but to sum it up, anything functionality and looks that can be added with mesh avatars and heads can be incorporated into the system shape. It would give everybody access to it, it would drasticalyl reduce the overall lag level and there are no technical reason why LL can't do it. There are several other reasons why they can't do it anymore though and all those reasons also apply to an "official LL mesh avatar".

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Thanks for all the comments.  I am heading to bed but look forward to seeing more in the days to come.

Who knows, some may be incorporated into the roadmap.  LIVING in a world gives citizens a very different outlook than hosting the world :D.

 

 

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Why even bother to speculate about what would be a better plan if we, users, don't see almost any stats that LL have?

Sure, we know amount of regions on the grid (thanks to the Tyche Shepherd's work) and also know that the last year's land price decrease has finally stopped private region numbers from dropping, we can check the daily L$ exchange rate and the volume (at least what LL shows us anyway), we can see concurency numbers and compare them to last years to see the trend. But that's about it. We don't know how much average resident spends in SL, both money and time wise, we don't know any positive or negative effects of the last transaction fee increase, we also don't know if MP's fee for buying L$ that went up a couple of times in the last two years also had any positive effect, we don't know much at all.

Without all small stats and a lot of time needed to analyze it, finding out your target auditory and their habits and needs, what could be interesting for them, what LL can get away with and what they better don't touch to avoid negative reaction and possibly - users just leaving, it's all pointless speculation. And before you'll say "but LL does have those stats and that's why they did what they did" - LL did a lot of weird decisions and sometimes just looks like they are out of touch with their own product. "Premium gifts" is one of the listed bonuses for example. Really? The "force bundled" 1024 tier even for people with zero interest in having any land or home with no option to get something else if you don't ever use it. Yeah, fabled "premium tiers" announced ages ago, along with other good stuff that gets a single "we're working on it" update a year.

Either way, I agree with Desudesudesuka's comment from earlier. Sansar has to go. There are times in life and in business when you accept that something you thought was a good idea/purchase turns out pretty horrible. You can continue to hold onto as long as you want, try to make it work and find a better place for it, but it's often better, easier and much cheaper to just accept the loss and move on. I can't help, but to think that LL screwed up big time with it and now we're paying for it.

What else? Don't touch the majority of your users - the basic accounts. Especially considering that many of them are spending a lot of money, because for some of us premium is just not needed for what we do in SL. Want to add more groups/offline IMs to premiums? Sure, make it 100 for each right away, but downgrading basics to make premium look more appealing? Low and petty move. Whoever in LL was in charge of that idea is pretty terrible in understanding basic psychology. Taking away what was there is always taken way worse than seeing new shiny that you can't have for whatever reasons. A lame example: someone might not be upset at all because they drive a used 20 years old (but in a good condition) car and see a brand new supercar nearby while they wait in traffic, but they sure will be super upset if their old car gets taken away and replaced by hardly working junk. And while I'm at horrible examples: you don't make other more expensive meal look more appealing by taking ingredients out from the already existing affordable one.

Improving new user experience is another big thing that LL have to work on. And not in "usual LL way", by trying to put it on users, by adding some artificial limits, but themselves. It's 2019, make viewer multithreaded even if it breaks some content from 15 years ago, make alternative UI (keep the old one too, otherwise lots of existing users might be very upset) that most people are familiar with (so something windows-like for the inventory/outfits management and usual generic 3rd person view game for the rest). Already mentioned earlier too, but I agree with it - stop hiding adult content. It's there, it's popular, it sells. Getting new people is vital, because no matter how good your product is, the people will get move on for all kinds of reasons. You need a steady flow of new ones to make up for it and those new users might have higher standards than old ones. Trying to put more expenses on remaining users because there's not enough of new ones is a fast way to kill your product too.

And last, but not least. We don't know how well LL does with SL right now. Is this a badly planned desperate move to keep up with their business because their revenue is dropping or it's more of a greed move? Again, just speculations and guesses. While LL is not exactly a gaming company, but it's somewhat close. And there's plenty of publishers that just will jump out of their pants to please their investors and just "making money" is not enough, they need to make all the money. That's when you read ridiculous statements of certain games sales being "below expectations" while they have literally best in the series results. And the next one comes with a million of paid DLC pre-planned in order to milk their players for some cash.

/wall of text

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Here's a couple ideas:

1. More flexible premium choices (As I mentioned in another thread) e.g. a low premium with limited but good perks to entice people in or convert basic accounts, all those who may not have been enticed to get a premium account before because they thought it was expensive, but this low premium is reasonable for them  - so now LL is getting money they might not have got before.  Then two or three more levels above that, each one with increased perks to the one below.

2. Add-on perks/custom premium package: As someone suggested in a different thread have add-on perks, like you pay x amount to get x perk. Or you could build your own premium package to fit your needs. For example maybe pay extra for a certain number of groups over the standard limit. I wouldn't go for that but I think plenty other's would cos it's what they need.

Sure, there may be flaws with the ideas - point them out if you like. I haven't thought too long and hard about these lol.

Edited by Evangeline Arcadia
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Off the top of my head ... 

 

Balance the books...

Move to accounts being relationships with individual people who in turn have multiple avatars. Cap the number of avatars. All accounts come with access to a personal 'Library' that can be used to bump items between your own avatars IF that item has as an 'account wide' permission flag.

A Premium tier at the old $72 pa. level that includes everything that the new $99 offering does, just no land, another at $40 pa with half the L$.

People have shown they are happy to run multiple premiums, have some big premium options that come with more L$ or more tier or both. Don't be shy, make a $400 option and have it make sense to people with 5 premium accounts.

Remove payment info from account profiles for everyone. It's no one else's business what my financial relationship with LL is, this isn't IMVU.

Increase cash out fees for non premiums to 10% or just prevent it entirely. Says very plainly that if you're here to make money then you should be premium, even if that is just the super low entry level premium.

New region type "Hideaway". Full sized region that is exactly half a homestead. Let anyone buy one. Strictly G / M rated residential only. No businesses of any kind. Hard limit of 10 avatars at a time. No pathfinding. No temp rez. Not just rules - make those things just not work.

Cloud based on demand regions with ownership plans based on 'avatar minutes'. The region owner can always access, others eat into the avatar minutes. When someone runs out? Make it easy to buy more! Make it possible for people to buy each other 'avatar minutes' so we can have community groups supported by their communities.

Don't compete with your own products.

Advance the offering...

Hire a vulkan developer. If that fails. Kidnap two (and give them half a pool cue each)

G and M land ratings are a mess (A is fine). There is too much of a huge divide between the two. Fix it.

Give people a way to entirely opt out of everything A rated. Tick the box and poof! All M and A land vanishes. They only see other people who have opted out.

An end to to ALL sub letting of mainland. Start a program to rebuild whole mainland regions as they come free with themed homes and roads, ala Bellisseria.

Bring back first land, only this time with 1024 plots, no buy in cost and no way to sell them, when you leave, they go back to LL. No roads on these regions. "Hardcore Oldschool Freedom"

Drink your own coffee, but also taste everyone else's. Don't develop SL in an SL shaped bubble.

No more "perma bans" they don't work, they don't keep the worst from coming back over and over, they do create actual anti customers. Switch to a 6 month account lock out, access to dashboard only followed by complete amnesia of past offenses.

Standardize the basic way merchant offerings are bundled. No more rez to unpack, wear to unpack, don't unpack, stand on this region to unpack .. Give us a special box object, let us dress it up, but make it work one way all the time for everyone.

Events .. Once a year for SLB is not enough. One big LL themed event every month. Make us ALL want to come. Make people outside SL want to come.

Depreciate all LSO scripts. Yes, many vintage objects will cease to work. Making 'authentic' replacements will give us something to do.

Distract us with client side scripting for huds.

Depreciate all mesh uploader generated LOD meshes. If a mesh is upload as just one model, do the LOD generation on the fly in the viewer as needed.

Every policy change comes with a Chick Little themed gift. Every. Single. One.

MOBILE. Maybe not a full 3D client, but at least let us avatar to avatar IM, and make it clear when people are in world or not. iOS and Android.

Feature bounties / rewards. If a TPV works with LL to develop and submit a feature, pay them. 

Mesh building in the viewer.

Champion Blender = It's what we use, you should use it too.

Hard caps on avatar complexity. Letting the market decide does not work, stop pretending that it does, set the limit at a meaningful level. If we don't demand at least two bonus chicken little gifts, you didn't set it low enough. Constraints breed creativity.

Temp textures and temp meshs. Uploads that cost nothing, are locked to the region and avatar that uploaded them, and vanish when the avatar logs off or after 12 hours.

Drop the entire events infrastructure in the trash as not fit for purpose. Replace. 

Move 'grant debt permissions' out of the viewer. Make it easy to see all the objects that have debt perms and make it possible to revoke that permission from the website.

Don't compete with your own products.

GROWTH

We can and will always make new things, focus on that not on maintaining a functional museum to every bit of tat knocked up over the last 16 years.

Make it possible and practical to make games inside SL. If that means SL has to change some. CHANGE IT. Don't aim to be on steam, aim to be steam with avatars hanging out with all the cool stuff they have made between games. Go play some games.

Add authoritative client side physics - Call the resulting platform SL 2 - will this break every single vech in SL ever. Yes. worth it? OH HELL YES.

Referral program. Someone gets and keeps premium with your code, after 3 months, give that person a free month, give them another one 3 months after that, and then again after a year.

Remember when it was all blue sky's and painting the wrenches pink? We do, that was exciting. Go back to doing that.

SL isn't just the business you're in while trying to diversify, it's the future of everything.

Attitude is infectious.

Dream big.

Don't compete with your own products.

 

 

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I'm not sure there's much they can do at this point.  The platform is going to be 16 years old and it's early userbase has already moved on.  There's an entire generation of young adults and teens that have never heard of SL   I personally didn't hear about SL until 2013 and i'm in my late 30s.  It's just not as popular anymore.

To put it in perspective, SL released in 2003, now add 16 years to say someone who was 14 at that time.  They would be 30 years old today.   Or say someone who was 24  in 2003, they would be 40 today.  Linden Lab should build their product around an aging userbase, which is probably 35+ these days.  These people have bills and families now, so raising prices on them isn't a good idea.

LL barely has any original content and rely too much on landowners and content creators for income.  When i first joined, they only had Linden Realms, iirc.  Then they added Paleoquest and Horizons later on.  They aren't that bad for some silly fun games, but they are obviously designed for teens or younger adults.

Having original content would have been more enticing to a wider audience.  Their entire marketing strategy, from what i've seen in past videos and articles, has been about owning land and creating content.  Did they really expect the vast majority of people to buy and rent land, or be proficient enough in building and scripting?  It might've been great for real-world businesses, but we all know how that turned out.  It failed, and LL still relies on that strategy to this day, when there are various other methods to be used, i.e. mobile and the mmorpg free-to-play models.  

Not to derail too much by bringing up Sansar, but it was a step in the right direction, because it seems to have been developed for an entirely different userbase, let's say people in their mid 20s or early 30s.  It's major problem was the premature adoption of VR because it relied heavily on steep PC requirements and had an unbearable UI for desktop users.  It could've been SL 2.0, and i'm sure many SL users would've migrated over, but it just wasn't user-friendly at all.

Edited by Nextio
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