Thank you for starting this theme, as this is exactly what I’m contemplating about for last couple of days.
It is easy to criticize not knowing the facts LL is facing to, so let’s call what I’m about to write a “view from the other side”, meaning this is completely personal perspective.
Honestly I am surprised they stuck so long to mostly tier sourced income, and that frightens me, because I doubt they are actually familiar with possibilities of their own their product.
Know your customers
This is very simple and in the same time most complex rule for every business. But more than anyone, LL is in position to really determine the average age of SL residents. My estimation would be around … 40? So, why are those people in SL? For fun? For making money? For some sort of life extension? I am sure there is more questions to be answered.
Bounds between people may start in SL, but there is so many social networks nowadays where real bounds started in SL are kept alive – my SL friends and me we are connected via FB and we are rarely talk in SL anymore. We met in RL one way or another, and honestly we don’t need SL anymore for anything. With all that Facebook, Twitter or whatever social network is there, is it enough to advertise SL just as another social network where you can meet new friends, have fun or whatever wording they are using?
SL needs people who are able and willing to pay to LL services, which lead us to another category of users:
I would say money makers are huge part of the SL community. Even there is usual categorization from small to big business, it is useless in this case. For LL purposes, I would say categorization to those who are doing business for paying expanses of their SL, and those who use process credit option is more adequate, for obvious reasons.
Should LL encourage more business to withdraw money from SL? I believe it is in their best interest. Again, what are their limitations, I don’t know. But what I do know that some changes must be made, regardless financial moment.
- first of all, stop treat us like idiots: if some feature is asked for many years, its release is more “sorry for keeping you waiting for so long” than “exciting and shiny new feature!”. Forcing “excitement” in everything LL announces is bit childish, and I am sure english language does have some synonyms and more subtle ways of wrapping bad news into gift paper – unless you are so stubborn to treat adult people as 12 years old.
- listen to us – if, for example, there is a high demand for more than one shop under the same account for marketplace, LL’s role is to provide it, not to contemplate if it is ok or not. Yes, there are reasons why people are asking for that feature, and I am sure they are very well explained already. If there is a high demand for some feature, your job is to provide it. No, in 5 years it will not going to be “exciting news”.
- monitor MP, it is your product and it is your responsibility to keep it protected. If product is flagged and commented as stolen, react, you don’t need us to chaise fax machine to send out DMCAs, you have all the info you need under your nose.
- the fact you stated something is forbidden will not stop people from committing frauds of all kinds, uploading illegal content from internet for example. You have to act like you mean it.
- accept the fact that every business has certain % of unreasonable customers, so does yours. Find the better way to deal with it.
- when you void money from creators account because it may be from unauthorized source, send us anything that could help us protect our self in the future – transaction number, name, anything. Yes, I could block this person from buying both inworld and MP now (thank you for that, btw).
- there are a significant number of people in SL who consider the ticket system and live support useless. How about doing something on that field that would prove them to be wrong?
- speaking of support, where are your premium users from? Is it really fair to have limited support working hours for worldwide 24/7 product?
The bottom line is that actions like those could make us feel safer, and more treated properly, so some of the money makers could decide to dedicate more time to their SL business that could lead to more money withdrawal.
Cut the costs
LL really needs to rethink about Sansar. There are opinions (not rumors, but opinions!) that Sansar is big failure. I would gladly give my reasons for that opinion: you don’t have creators over there that would bring it to another level.
When I joined SL back in 2007 it was fully functional grid, with economy and residents eager to try something new, to create in virtual world, to start virtual business. THAT was exciting! Part of those people are not in SL anymore, part of them are running their business for years now, new one came and they had all techniques and tools on the plate, and now you are expecting people to turn their back to all that to develop a content for a new grid? If I would be entitled, I could name at least 5 names of SL who are leading in their fields and whose incomes are coming purely out of SL. Yes, there are few enthusiastic professionals who are experimenting with Sansar, but that is simply not enough. Without content, there are no users, and so far Sansar has been presented to us as nice looking showroom. Honestly, that is one of the reasons why open grids will never be big as SL – if they can not provide protection, full perm creators will not risk in there, therefore there is no content and no significant number of active users, and unless they upload stolen content and that way the circle closes. Not to mention the fact that Sansar requires some new techniques to be learned, and we all are already on the high level learning curve, daily, to meet the need of our customers, as we are making real money in SL.
The second money eater – and yes this IS based on rumors – are LL abandoned lands. Based on rumors, numerous abandoned sims are laying empty out there costing money while they could contribute to LL income. On the other side, there are Linden homes and possibility of using premium plot as sort of land discount. That LL policy “one size fits all” is wrong on more than one level – use abandoned land for people who really don’t need your Linden home but an empty plot, and who already have rented land for their business from individual landowners.
One size fits all …
Doesn’t work neither in RL nor SL. Established business as LL is should be aware of that. Pushing all people in the same pot sends a very wrong message – you want more income with less work. Not going to happen in 21. century and with running virtual grid.
Let’s talk about this fuzz with premium account changes.
All of the sudden we got new Linden home community lands after waiting for so many years. Are you aware you were charging for heavily outdated buildings for way longer than they deserved it? From my point of view it means one of two things: or you are lazy, or you have organization problems.
And even the new continent is not finished, and even you didn’t provide homes for all premium members who want it – you are raising prices. So, how long those people would have to wait till they get a new premium home? And yet, you are asking them to pay for it.
Yes, we have the early payment option that will be open during few weeks period, and that will fill the gap between more builds rezzing and paying for them. Good offer for money injection in short time period, but will the continent be finished this time next year?
Beside that little step you made, what else are you offering as part of your premium pack?
- premium access – as I’ve heard people are not happy with it at all, they are still waiting for ages to teleport to busy places as sim can handle up to … 40 avatars? Am I wrong?
- premium sandboxes – I am sure there are people who will use those, but I don’t believe we are talking about significant number. Why? Because they have homes to rezz, or we are renting land and we have building platforms already in our privacy.
- live support – with limited working hours, and very often as far as I’ve heard copy/paste knowledge base programmed answers. No, I didn’t personally use live support for years, but I like to have access to it, just in case if I need it.
- premium gifts – again, periodically one time job.
As list may go bit longer, for me there is no real value in the pack. And please take this as my own personal view, I am not saying everybody should feel the same way.
I am using Linden home as emergency spot in case of rolling restart, when it is not convinient for me to log off cause I am – for example – in the middle of customer support conversation. Live support is there just in case of emergency, didn’t use that for years now. Sandboxes, hunts, small winter cabin – really not my thing. I am sure other people will have different opinion, but that depends of their – guess what? – it depends of their needs!
But, to tailor more than one type of premium account type, you need to go back to beginning: know your customers. And I am asking again: do you know your customers?
Let me introduce you to one type of your customer: me. I belong to a group of people who are living out of SL, and I am not complaining with my income. But, I am working very hard for decade now. And I am happy with that, with all the things I’ve learned, all business experiences I’ve had in SL even the unpleasant one, as those thought me a lot of things. Yes, I am living with knee pain and extra body weight, but it is not LL’s fault (hmm, wait, maybe I can find the way to but the blame on LL for that too … naaah, just kidding)
So, yes, I am eager to see SL is progressing, and I am applauding to the part of LL team who brought bento, animesh and all those bells and whistles to the grid as those were really exciting news that opened the path for real SL progress.
But in the same time, I couldn’t be less interested in SL parties, or endless shopping. Yes, I am investing money into my business even if I buy dress, hair, chair, table, because I am buying it because I need it for the visual presentation on my vendor images, or furniture is simply well proportioned for my needs.
I will dare to say that sale weekend offers of any full perm creator, me including, significly contribute the progression of the grid, as weekend discounts give creators opportunity to invest smart and to have better offers in their shops.
But we have to test. Numerous times, not just once or twice. For that purposes I am spending hours on beta grid. Not convenient at all, as we are talking about public sandboxes. So, the real premium account value for me would be possibility of free uploads, for entire year, for real US$ that would go straight to LL pocket. And I would be testing on stable grid, in the privacy of my fully equipped building platform with no need to keep my eye on 4 hours restriction.
Empty 1024 plot instead of Linden community home would also be very interesting for me – at the end, I need a place for secondary Casper vendors dropboxes and a place to run to in case of already mentioned rolling restarts.
E- mailed DMCAs option for trusted SL business. Yes, I understand the reason for faxing DMCA, but till couple of years ago I thought fax machines are not even used anymore.
I am sure other people could come out with more different ideas.
But hey, this requires a lot of work in LL office, numerous meetings (I guess), long contemplating (few years at least) so I am hoping for something like that to be open for discussion in 5 -10 years. And just when we get tired of everything, we will hear about “exciting new features” (really people, what is the story behind all that excitement, what kind of mental picture are you trying to paint with that kind of word choices?)
Process credit increase …
For me, it is not about increase for 2.5%, but about the process.
You have already made some changes in process credit fees, when was that, last year? In the meantime Tilia’s logo caught my eye on process credit window. Don’t ask me when, I don’t remember, just know it is there for some time now.
Simple search revealed that Tilia is “a subsidiary of Linden Lab, focused on payments and the compliance work associated with operating virtual economies,” Peter Gray, the Lab’s director of Global Communications said in answer to my initial questions, “and it will provide services for both Second Life and Project Sansar.” (quote from Inara’s Pay blog post on November 4, 2015 https://modemworld.me/2015/11/04/linden-lab-and-tilia-inc-speculations-on-the-labs-new-subsidiary/)
So, if I understand well, all income Tilia should be making to be sustainable is coming from SL and Sansar?
But Sansar is not operational yet as it should be by now. And LL, Sansar and Tilia, they all need income. That is all understandable and I am in, but – have you really deserved it?
From what we know (and sure there are thing we are clueless about), LL does have only one source of income, and that is SL. That one source of income must cover expenses for 3 projects.
Team who brought new features like animesh and bento, have done fantastic job.
For support ask someone who use it.
Whoever is in charged for MP protection, development, support – failed big! They want us to be on our knees to do anything that is asked from them to be done. For how many years we were asking for block on MP? MP manager? MP multi shops? Why flagging stolen items/illegal resale’s at all if no one pays attention. Write ticket after that. Send DMCA. By fax. Beg for gatcha category. Wow, there is gatcha category, but gatchas doesn’t HAVE to be there?!?! Search mess. Not enough categories. Wrong categories. Anything else? I am sure there is.
I guess that list of work that should be done long time ago could be even longer. Just crossed my mind – can I pay to have my group name changed? If I understood well, you will charge for last names. I don’t need last name, but would like to change my group name. Anyone?
What I am trying to say here is that, with a small shifting of perspective you could see there are numerous possibilities for justify the price increasment, and even more, you would have people who would pay willingly for your services. I would encourage you to go back to the table, to speed communication in your own office, to talk to business people of Second Life (we are not biting – yet!) on the forums, to open your eyes and ears and to come again with better tailored offer.
We are all part of the same system, and we are mutually dependent. If you cannot understand that about SL than we are all in the huge problem. You want economy to grow and to create more income sources for LL? Great, we want that too, as that would mean faster development of the grid, more quality grid, more economically stable grid, and above all, grid that will survive for the next 16 years.
At the end, note to business owners …
LL is not here to run your business, they are here to provide platform and creation/business tools, and to provide high level of protection of the grid and residents. LL is business and as much as I have word of two on how they could improve their perspective, they are earning money just as we are. They are one of the kind and they don’t have a business model to follow, over the years they had to deal and discover all the business patterns of virtual worlds we are now taking for granted.
Business owners really must learn business/sale/advertising techniques, and to set up their own style in that field. They have to be flexible enough to follow the all kind of changes in creation and running business process.
When petrol goes up, everything goes up from bread to diapers. It is usual economic practice, and I don’t see any reason why it would not be implement in the SL prices formula. SL business is not easy money. In here you are your own boss and with competition, sometimes it requires even more effort than some RL business.
For some, SL business is role-play just like any other, for some it is serious business. Most of us are self thought and we always have to ask our self what can be done better, different, what mistakes we should correct. But most of all, we need to keep our feet firm to the ground. There is no SL without us. There is no “us” without LL. We should stop take LL for granted, as much as they should stop taking us for granted. SL and LL are not some hippy community and we have to help each other to grow.
And as much as I am eager to read other opinions, I am not in the mood to discuss my level of usage of english language, not today, ok?