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Linden Lab introduces new land product, changes for void simulators

Tateru Nino

Linden Lab's new CEO, Mark Kingdon, has announced a new land product for Second Life, based on all the feedback, and vociferous protestation that all but exploded following the original announcement. Reactions to the new announcement are still a bit mixed, with many thinking that this is the announcement that should have taken place originally. After all, Linden Lab already had all of the information prior to the flood of feedback that they received.

Nevertheless, the end result is that void simulators will be available in two flavors: the Openspaces product (now adjusted substantially) and the new Homesteads product. There's a knowledge-base article enumerating the changes, but we'll break it down for you.

Void simulators under the Openspaces product will have significant restrictions applied. Homesteads are very close to the originally announced plan for void simulators, and add a phased price increase (though an educator's discount is now applicable), but have a capacity reduction applied.

The Homesteads product is the simpler one so we'll tackle that one first. Compared to current void simulators, they're nearly the same, but they will have an occupancy cap of 20 (a notable reduction). The Homestead product becomes available on 5 January 2009 at US$95/month and rise to the planned US$125/month on 1 July 2009. Users setting up new void simulators under the Homestead package will pay a setup fee of US$375 per simulator. Conversion of an existing void simulator to the Homesteads plan is free until 9 January 2009. A 30% discount is available on fees for eligible parties. Homesteads may be subject to additional script caps, but that has yet to be determined.

The Openspaces product will have its object limits slashed to 750 prims, and occupancy limits slashed to 10. No educator discounts apply, and pricing remains the same. Land on an Openspaces simulator will not be able to be listed for events or classifieds, and caps may be applied to scripts (but development work has yet to be done for that, so it's still quite hazy). Openspaces are also prohibited from rental or from use as habitation -- but nobody has yet defined what habitation means in this context. We think it means "hanging around in the simulator too much".

All these changes to Openspaces apply from 5 January 2009.

For those of you interested in your bang for the monthly buck, Openspaces are effectively 10 US cents per prim (assuming you fill them to capacity), Homesteads are 3 US cents per prim, and regular simulators in private estates are 2 US cents per prim. That's monthly fees divided by capacity.

So, if you have a void simulator you have a choice of two products, neither of which are quite the same as the product you currently have, and you're going to need to plan accordingly. We don't think there's any additional stretch room for the packages as they stand.

Many of you are wondering why this wasn't the plan from the outset, given what the Lab already knows -- frankly, the user feedback probably didn't tell them anything they didn't already know at the outset of their decision-making.

Linden Lab's priorities as a business don't necessarily have a lot of overlap with those of its customers (which is not an atypical situation). Given that, it's unlikely we'll see any significant revisions to the two options. If you own a void simulator now, things are going to change whichever way you go. You should plan accordingly.

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