This evening, in an official blogpost titled Land Price Reductions, New Premium Perks, and Pricing Changes, Linden Lab announced a variety of changes to Second Life, and there’s a mix of good news and bad news.
GOOD NEWS: The monthly maintenance cost of a full region is going down (but not by a lot).
BAD NEWS: The one-time setup fee for a full region remains at US$349.00. It’s still expensive to buy land from Linden Lab.
GOOD NEWS: If you are a Premium member, the number of groups you can join will be raised from 60 to 70. I have two Premium accounts and I’ve been waiting and hoping for this for a long time!
BAD NEWS: If you are not a Premium member, the number of groups you can join will be lowered from 42 to 35. If you are currently over 35 groups, group membership will not be revoked if you are over the limit, but you will need to go below the new limit before you can join new groups. Frankly, this is going to be a complete pain in the ass, especially for someone like me with alts who are all at the 42-group limit. Not impressed, Linden Lab.
BAD NEWS: The cost of a Premium membership is going up between 26 and 46 percent, depending on whether you pay monthly, quarterly, or annually:
According to the blogpost, Linden Lab is willing to extend current pricing plans by one year if you renew your Premium account between June 3rd and June 24th:
To help with the transition to the new pricing, starting June 3rd, we’re offering a limited-time opportunity for existing Premium members to lock in their current rates for one more billing cycle, including extending an existing monthly to use the current full year rate by upgrading now to annual. Simply renew before June 24th to extend your current Membership at the same low rate. For example, monthly members will be billed at the lower rate for one more monthly billing cycle, while annual members may renew (or monthly users may upgrade to annual) early to add one more year to your existing Membership at the current lower rate.
BAD NEWS: Linden Lab is actually doubling its credit processing fee, which is going to be a blow to content creators who want to cash out:
Effective June 24th, the fee for processing credit transactions (i.e. paying real money into a PayPal or Skrill account) will be 5% per transaction with a minimum fee of US$3 (there is no maximum fee). The fee is currently 2.5% per transaction.
So in summary, Linden Lab is continuing to shift its income generation away from charging for land, and more towards charging for services. Linden Lab also announced that a new, “super-Premium” account level is coming soon:
Even more improvements to Premium Membership are coming later this year: more new Linden Home themes and options, as well as the introduction of an all-new membership level for those who want to get the absolute most out of their Second Life. Look out for updates to Events and more limit increases as well.
So there you have it.
UPDATE May 30th: Grumpity Linden has posted a point-by-point response to many of the complaints on the Second Life community forums (and other places) about these impending changes. It’s rather long, so I didn’t quote it all here (just follow the link to read it all). Of particular note, she says:
We’re not lowering [group] limits [for non-Premium users] out of spite, groups really are quite a strain on our back end for a variety of painful historical reasons, including overloading group functionality instead of having other tools. This subject alone is worth a novel liberally sprinkled with tears. So anyway, we don’t hate basic users, and in fact we work hard to retain our free-to-play offering as one of the most generous across many industries. But yes, no big surprise, we do want to nudge active residents to become subscribers, because we think it’s a great value, and – as many have noted – we’re also running a business. But no, we’re not shutting our doors to non-premium residents. Rumors of our insanity and villainy have been slightly exaggerated.
Fees to process credit are going up, effective June 24th. L$ buy fees are not. Yes, this is another step in re-balancing the economy. It’s also the right step, because the regulatory climate has evolved dramatically since SL first started out, and in order to continue to offer a platform for creators to actually make money, we have a lot of ongoing work to keep up with those regulations. Compliance is generally no fun (shh don’t tell our compliance people I said so – they’re wonderful and actually think it’s fun!) but it keeps all of us in business and the bad guys out. If we weren’t doing this work, we would literally have to stop offering the ability to process credit.
Look, this is obviously a bitter pill. We can’t keep slashing land prices at the rate we did last year. We can’t raise other prices and yet keep everyone happy. But we sincerely believe this is the best path forward – and hope you will come around too.
P.S. we haven’t given up on Last Names either.
Stay tuned for further news and announcements!
UPDATE May 31st: Well, guess what? Linden Lab has listened to us, and they have made the following announcement:
On May 29th, we made an announcement about future changes to Premium and Basic account features including plans to increase Group Memberships and offline IM limits for Premium account holders while reducing them for Basic accounts.
We’ve since heard strong and convincing feedback from many in our community about the impact of changing Group Membership limits for Basic accounts. For example, many Residents have shared how they rely heavily on Groups to stay informed about new product releases as Merchants use this feature to regularly communicate news and updates to their customers, and how much Groups are used for keeping communities active.
We hear your concerns and, as a result, Group Membership limits for Basic Residents will NOT be reduced as part of our Premium Membership changes rolling out on June 24th.
Thank you, Ebbe Altberg and the team at Linden Lab!