As you may know, Linden, on October 4th, announced a plan to raise prices for educational and non-profit users of Second Life and not a little increase, a whopping doubling of the previous discount. Of course there was a backlash and so Linden has offered up a temporary solution, one which will bring in monies in the short term and help educators and non-profits to “buy more time” at the discounted rate:
Here is a “mass email” sent to education users from Linden
Dear Educators and Not-for-profits,
By now many of you have likely read the blog regarding our recent decision to discontinue the educational/not-for-profit discount on January 1, 2011 when we will move to a consistent pricing approach for all in Second Life. We recognize that this increase in cost may pose a hardship especially with the timing of budgets and funding, which is why we’re offering an early renewal option to extend the amount of time you can continue at the current rates in exchange for a longer term commitment.
An educational or not-for-profit institution that is currently under contract with us will be able to renew early (or purchase additional regions) and continue to receive the current 50% discount on land maintenance provided that the renewal takes place prior to the December 31, 2010. You will be able to select contract renewal options of 6, 12, 18 or 24 months under these terms. If your organization renews and enters into a contract no later than December 31, 2010, it can lock in the current discounted rate for up to 24 additional months.
Please note that any new purchases or renewals occurring after December 31, 2010 will be at our standard prices without the previous discount.
We hope that this clarifies the policy regarding both early and standard renewals. If you are interested in early renewal of your regions, please email us at email@example.com with “Early Renewal” in the subject line and provide the following information:
Name of Institution or Organization
SL Avatar Name to which the regions to be renewed are associated
Name of Region(s) to be Renewed
Renewal Time Period (6, 12, 18, 24 months)
You will receive confirmation of receipt of your request within 1 business day.
Upon review of your request, an invoice for renewal will be sent to the contact email address.
Thank you for understanding, and I hope to continue seeing many of you inworld.
It seems strange that a very vocal group in Second Life with obvious financial constraints is being charged almost double what they’ve previously paid but it is a business and Linden Labs seems to be in need of revenue and this is one way to reduce the amount of users served by eliminating the ones who can’t pay while still maintaining the current amount of revenue. One can see that even if 50% of educators stayed in SL, the revenue model still works while simultaneously reducing services and resources needed to serve fewer customers.
Could be a brilliant move in saving the company, time will tell. In the meantime, I am anxious to see what these announcements do to the vocal group of SL educators and am curious to see if they move to a different platform en mass or if they grin and bare it. I’ve spoken with a few experts in SL who have been using it from the start and they see it as an opportunity to move to new platforms like Blue Mars or a combination of Unity 3D as the interface engine and OpenSim as the backend.
Or something like Web.alive or the Finnish open source product realXtend. Years ago, choices in virtual worlds did not exist but now there are literally hundreds of choices, what will become of the price increase and subsequent backlash? It is an interesting state of affairs in the industry especially layered on top of Microsoft’s recent purchase of Vivaty.
A company like Venuegen which offered free switching of the defunct There.com users might offer something similar to SL users. If someone makes an open invite, might a switch occur. If a company does, it will need to offer the same type of marketplace and interaction and destinations that users have built in SL over the years. I think of places like NOAA island, Science Island and the US Holocaust Museum in SL and hope those don’t get abandoned and wonder if a competitor can truly offer the same experience without hose type of innovative spaces?
To me, I think this indicates a kind of maturing of the industry and a real look at having a serious go at making a viable virtual world company from the perspective of sustainability.