Friday, April 20, 2012

Is Linden Lab pricing itself out of business?

New World Notes has an article up regarding the rebirth of the Devokan Trust regions being reborn on OpenSim after high tier cost drove them to close down in Second Life.  This is not an isolated incident.  As the developers of other, competing grids build their online communities and work out more bugs, less expensive alternatives to SL are becoming more attractive.  Small wonder that Linden Lab has chosen not to throw itself a huge birthday bash this year — and I don't think the reason is limited to the drama-fests or the poorly implemented events that resulted in entire regions lagging out and crashing.

The main reason has to do with declining revenues stemming from the ongoing collapse of the U.S. economy.  With more and more people losing jobs and wages declining, spending hundreds of dollars a month on SL just isn't viable anymore for most people.  It doesn't help that Linden Lab maintains its unreasonably higher price for virtual land in-world.

Region tier for private, full-sized estates, which provides up to 15,000 prims over 65,536 square meters, runs as high as $295 USD a month.  Linden Lab charges a full one thousand dollars USD just to buy a new full-prim private estate, with the additional $295 a month rental fee.  That's a shit-ton of money to spend in a depressed economy.  Competing grid InWorldz, on the other hand, offers up to 45,000 prims for building at a monthly cost of only $75 USD a month and an initial setup fee of $75, according to the FAQ section.  In OpenSim, pricing is comparable to that of InWorldz (a good read from a year ago may be found here).

Simply put, ridiculously high prices in a depressed economy are driving many landowners in Second Life to lower-priced grids.  The people who stay in SL struggle to maintain their regions, as New London's recent financial troubles can attest.

If the Lab wants to reverse the decline in users, it will have to take a short term loss for long term gain.  Region prices should be lowered so as to be competitive with up-and-coming grids such as InWorldz and OpenSim, and customer support must be improved.  Once land prices drop, more people will be able to afford to buy, compensating for short term monetary losses, eventually leading to a gradual rise in revenue.

In addition, prim-allowances should be similarly raised to compete with other grids that offer three times what the Lab does for their regions.  45,000 prims and 65,536 square meters, with individual prims that can be sized up to 128 meters in diameter, for $75 a month will always look much more attractive compared to one that offers literally half to two thirds fewer prims for much much more.

If Linden Lab doesn't do this, it will continue to lose members to the competition.

Ass Clownery and Upcoming RFL Events

Remember when I wrote earlier about a clown who got himself banned from a London-based region?  He's up to his usual tricks again, this time going on the offensive against a vendor who sent out a note card warning people about alleged griefing activities by a group to which clown-boy belongs.  He's in a tizzy because someone did to him what he did to another group entirely last year.  The hypocrisy on display is stunning.

Anyway, on to important matters.  With the semester winding down I plan to schedule three RFL events in May.  I'll post more info when I finalize the themes, but I hope to do a May Day fund-raiser as the first one.

Relay for Life is managed in Second Life by dedicated people, many of whom are or know people who have cancer.  Some of the RFL captains, volunteers, and other members have already suffered losses this year and my thoughts go out to them.  Cancer is a nasty disease and it takes no prisoners.  Whatever we can raise to help wipe it out, let's raise it!

Tuesday, April 10, 2012

Who News!

Check it out!  Nonamei Scribe provides the voice commentary for this video evaluation of the upcoming first half of Series 7.  Tip of the hat to Jayne Gudkov for linking to the blog on The Doctor Who Zone blog.

Cause Grief, Get Yourself Banned, Then Whine About It On a Blog

I was checking out some of the SL-themed blogs looking up stuff on London-based communities (Google is my friend) when I came across an entry by a certain serial liar and griefer complaining about getting banned from one of the larger regions and urging members of a fan-based chain of groups to boycott the place.

I found this extremely funny, since this loser has a habit of stirring up all manner of trouble for people and never bothers explaining the specific reason for whatever he claims is done to him.  Usually he's spread some lie about the sim- or group-owners and they decided they could do without his tiresome presence on their own virtual land.  Whatever he said or did to get himself banned I really don't know, but knowing him, it was probably similar to what he's done to so many others that they got fed up and booted his sorry behind.

What's funny about this is that the individual in question has deluded himself into thinking he has more influence in his little niche group(s) — and in SL generally, in all likelihood — than he really has.  I'm sure the only reason SL is even still afloat is because of this clown's continued presence.  Hell, the entire grid grinds to a screeching halt if he leaves to attend to his alleged real life for even an hour! (/Sarcasm).

UPDATE (11 April) - Since Stupid likes to post people's full avatar names in his entries, I looked up the sim owner and asked some questions.  Turns out he took advantage of their generosity and when they objected, he took to bitching about it on his blog.  So they returned all his stuff that he had rezzed there and banned his sorry ass.  Lesson to be learned: Don't piss off a sim owner.

Meanwhile, back in reality, life moves on.  I sent the film from my semester film project into the lab for development.  I hope to get it back by this time next week so I can begin editing.  The biggest obstacle to my short being all I dreamed it could be was time and actors' availability, or rather, lack thereof on the latter portion.  A shortage of funds in my bank account from last-minute bills took a bigger tol, forcing me to wait a few weeks before I could send in my exposed film.  It's Kodak color reversal stock, so once exposed the image begins breaking down.  At this point, with scenes still left to be shot, the primary actor I need to film them having dropped off the face of the planet, and the semester winding down (it ends in about a month), my project is looking to take a serious hit that could affect my grade enough to delay my graduation.