Linden Policy Change on OpenSpace Price Hike

Those who have been around the Grid since last October will remember the uproar generated when Linden Lab announced with no fanfare that they planned to raise the purchase price on so-called “Openspace” sims.  The price would increase from $250 to $375 — an raise of 1.5 times — and nearly double the monthly maintenance cost, from $75 to $125.  The rationale given at the Big Blog was that these new land areas, which were meant as light-traffic green zones, were being far overused in terms of both traffic and prims.  Protest erupted quickly, and I commented on it in several articles on 10/28, 10/30, 10/31, 10/31 (second article), 11/3, 11/4, 11/4 (second article), 11/5 and 11/8.  (You will find links in these articles to many more.)

When Linden announced it was changing the decision, many were pleased that the Lab seemed to be listening, at least in part, to the affected Residents’ fears and anger.  The planned compromise price restructuring, however, still chased away many who saw themselves as unable to afford the planned increases even on a stepping-stone basis.  Most analysts of the Grid map noted a large falloff in the number of islands.  Linden Lab denied that there was a massive selloff, as reported by New World Notes.

Still, in an announcement on Tuesday in the Big Blog, the Lab has stated that they will lock down the price increase scheduled for July 1 on owners of their new Homestead sims, as long as the land was purchased prior to July 1.  Landowners who abandoned their Openspace regions may have the land reactivated for no charge.  The grandfathering will last for one year, until July 2010.  Anyone purchasing a Homestead on July 1 or later will pay the full price as stated in the November 5, 2008 Big Blog announcement.

Ari Blackthorne in Common¦Sensible suggests that this is a potential move to avoid another land abandonment or selloff, although he also sees it as a potential olive branch.  The comments on the SL Discussions is the usual mixed reaction, a combination of appreciation and sour grapes for various reasons, with a leavening of unrelated posts.  Generally, though, judging by the lack of traffic on the matter, reaction is muted.  It could be early days in the debate, but very little, either of palms or screeds, has been published.  (If I’m wrong, please leave links in the comments below.)  I do wonder if any great notice has been taken of the announcement.

For those interested in owning land in Second Life, the move seems to me a generous one as far as it goes.  Those who stayed in world and were bracing themselves for an economic shock in a month will get at least a year’s relief on the matter, and in their bill.  Former Residents who left for OpenSpaces have the opportunity to rebuild their areas in Second Life at little penalty, other than paying the $20/month boost from what they started out with.  What would be nicer would be a continued freeze on prices if company revenues allow next year.  Hopefully Jack and Mark will consider this as the next year rolls around.

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