Linden Lab CEO on openspace/void price increases

Mark Kingdon, Linden Lab's shiny new CEO, made a statement to Wagner James Au at GigaOm about the announced openspace/void simulator price rises that have so many Second Life users up in arms, 'this price adjustment affects only a portion of land in Second Life; it does not apply to private islands or regular mainland property. We made this change to ensure an optimal Second Life experience for all Residents.'

We're not sure if this gets points for being intentionally misleading, or unintentionally misleading. Either way, it scores a lot of points.

Lets break it down a piece at a time.

"This price adjustment affects only a portion of land in Second Life"

Technically, that is correct but unhelpful. The only quantities that Kingdon has definitively ruled out are 0% and 100%. "A portion" could easily refer to any figure in between.

Since there's no information available about how many void simulators have actually been purchased and are operating on the Second Life grid, we did a bit of an informal poll to gather users' guesses. Responses suggested that they thought it was between fifty and sixty percent of privately owned simulators.

"It does not apply to private islands"

Well, that depends on how you define 'private island'. If you define it as non-void(openspace) simulator that is a part of a non-Linden-owned estate, then that is technically true. We think a lot of users would call bullshit on that, however.

Privately-owned void/openspace simulators are considered "islands" by both the users and by Linden Lab. The usage of the term in Kingdon's statement is unexpected. Perhaps it reflects some definition in use within the walls of Linden Lab that has never made it to the users or the general public.

"It does not apply to ... regular mainland property"

Perfectly true. We're on nice firm ground here (no pun intended).

"We made this change to ensure an optimal Second Life experience for all Residents"

Now there's the big sticking point. It's for the users' own good, of course, and not for the Lab's benefit. That's a common theme. The question is ... well, how exactly?

The heart of the problem is that there seems to be no announced part of the plan to actually alleviate the problem. What has been announced is a price-rise and some policy changes, but there isn't any indication as to how any of this might act to improve the situation at all.

If an overloaded void simulator impacts other void simulators negatively, could someone explain to us just how charging more money actually acts to reduce the negative impact. Perhaps there are plans to apply additional resources to the problem -- but nobody at the Lab has said anything of the sort yet. We're hoping that someone will, at some point. It seems strange that nobody has yet. If someone at the Lab has this hidden up their sleeve, now might be past time to pull it out.

Worse, the obvious ramification of the price increase appears that it will be to make the problem worse, not better.

If your monthly fee for a simulator rises from US$75 to US$125, you're going to want more bang for your buck. Why shouldn't you increase your usage of the simulator in the hope of getting more of a return?

Worse, using void simulators for what Linden Lab actually says they were originally intended for (unoccupied space, coastline, open ocean for sailing and so forth) becomes considerably more expensive, with little or no opportunity for return on the monthly spend.

Simulators that aren't earning their keep will doubtless be retired and as such, we fully expect to see such 'light' usage of void simulators mostly die out, as a result of the announced price increase. Who can afford a half-dozen of them for the occasional regatta or for empty parkland at the new prices?

Simply put, the 66.6% price-rise encourages the overuse of void simulators, and penalizes those who are using them for actual open space.

Are you a part of the most widely-known collaborative virtual environment or keeping a close eye on it? Massively's Second Life coverage keeps you in the loop.
This article was originally published on Massively.