Editorial: My Experience with a Premium Plus Account in Second Life—and I Discover a Hidden Benefit!

Yes, I admit it: I am deliberately escaping the anxiety and depression caused by my reaction to the pain, heartache, chaos, cruelty, despair, and conflict of the real world, by escaping to my favourite metaverse: Second Life! (Hey, don’t judge; we all have our quirky little hobbies to help keep us sane in these trying times.) Also, as one of the first 30,000 people (as of June 23rd, 2022) to join the closed beta test of the AI-generated art tool DALL-E 2 by OpenAI, I have been avidly trying out various prompts, such as the following:

I do plan to write more about AI-generated art in general (and DALL-E 2 in particular), as well as share some more art I have created since I joined the beta, in a later editorial blogpost, but first, Second Life! Priorities, people!!! 😉

After discovering, much to my surprise, that it was less expensive to change the legacy name of one of my alts by upgrading from Basic to Premium Plus rather than Premium, I decided to put this new concierge service to the test! I am quite happy to report that the Change my Name concierge service request was responded to promptly, efficiently, and politely, via a text-chat support ticket, and one US$15.00 charge on my credit card later, hey presto!, meet Ryan Blakewell (whose original legacy name was along the lines of the rather uninspiring Ryan-something-random Resident):

The rechristened Ryan Blakewell is wearing the Sacha full-body mesh avatar by EXMACHINA, a store which appears to have gone out of business! However, the Signature Gianni version of this dark blue Ewan casual suit by Vagrant, which I picked up using the two gifts of free store credit and taking advantage of their 50% Off Sale, fits him very well!

And then it struck me: I actually have an alt who has can upload an unlimited number of images for free! And, of course, once uploaded, images can be shared between avatars for free. So I have embarked on a project which is long, long overdue—taking pictures of the hundreds of outfits in the extensive wardrobe of my main SL avatar, Vanity Fair! I had wanted to do it before, but the L$10-per-texture charge would have added up to thousands of Linden dollars to document Vanity’s many and varied outfits which I have assembled over the years.

In Firestorm, all you have to do is click on the Appearance button (a T-shirt icon), then select the Outfit Gallery tab. Images must be 256 by 256 pixels in size, but you can use any image manipulation program to resize your in-world screen captures (I used to use Paint.net, but now I prefer to use the free online Photopea app; both feature the Adobe PhotoShop-like interface with which I am already familiar).

Selecting an 256×256 image to add to my Outfit Gallery

Now, I’m not planning on staying a Premium Plus member forever (at least, not on Ryan Blakewell’s account). I really only did it for the cheaper legacy name change on that avatar, and for no other reason. But, at the 45-day mark, I will collect my L$3,000 signup bonus, and I will either upgrade Ryan Blakewell to a Belleza Jake mesh body (last I checked, Belleza is still holding an extended 50% Off Sale on both male and female bodies), or transfer the bonus to another alt to use there. The L$650-a-week stipend is also nice, too! So I just might hold onto the Premium Plus account for 2 or 3 months.

However, I can think of no better use of the perks of Premium Plus at the moment than to create an free outfit gallery for my main avatar, Vanity Fair:

Vanity Fair’s Outfit Gallery (so far)

Tomorrow is Canada Day (Canada’s version of July 4th), and I plan to spend the long weekend, and my vacation next week, working on my new project! The perfect plan to avoid social media and the news media in a world gone mad—at least for a little while.

I’d be very interested in hearing from other Second Life users who have opted to upgrade to Premium Plus. How has the process been for you? What do you like about it? Have you encountered any problems? Please feel free to leave a comment on this blogpost, thanks! I think I’m going to quite like Premium Plus!

Comparing Second Life Basic, Premium, and Premium Plus Accounts: How Do You Choose What’s Best for You, and What Is the Best Value for Your Money?

This blogpost helps you figure out the best way to spend your pennies on a Second Life account!

It’s the hazy, lazy, crazy days of summer, and I must confess that I haven’t felt like blogging (or doing much of anything) these past few weeks. I’ve been watching lots of Netflix (Umbrella Academy season 3, yay!), testing out responses to various text prompts on DALL-E 2, and sending forth my small army of Second Life alts in a blitzkrieg campaign of pillaging all the fabulous freebies at the SL19B Shop and Hop event before it ends on July 10th. Trust Auntie Ryan; this is the single biggest haul of freebies you will ever see at any one shopping event in Second Life! 😉 So go now!!!

As part of the Second Life 19th Birthday celebrations, Linden Lab (the company who makes SL) has announced a brand new, second level of premium accounts for users, called Premium Plus. There’s been a lot of discussion in the official Second Life community forums (and elsewhere) about this, and so I thought it was time to take a bit of a deep dive and look at all three levels of SL accounts: Basic, Premium, and now the new Premium Plus, in an effort to help people figure out what’s best for them.

PLEASE NOTE: All prices in this blogpost are in U.S. dollars; you’ll have to do your own currency conversions if you use Canadian dollars, or whatever your local currency happens to be. In my case, the conversion between the stronger American dollar and the weaker Canadian dollar always makes me wince in pain!

Signup Bonus and Weekly Stipend

Basic accounts have no signup bonus or weekly stipend (i.e., an amount of Linden dollars which Linden Lab pays you). If you upgrade to Premium, you receive a L$1,000 signup bonus, plus a weekly stipend of L$300. If you choose to upgrade to Premium Plus, you get a L$3,000 signup bonus and a L$650 weekly stipend.

Please note that you must stay at your Premium (or Premium Plus) level for 45 days before you receive the signup bonus; this is prevent people from signing up for one month, collecting the bonus, then downgrading back to Basic!

Avatar Legacy Names

Basic accounts are what everybody gets when they first sign up for Second Life. You need to come up with a single-word name which is unique, and since Linden Lab dropped the first name-last name avatar naming system for new signups a decade ago, believe me, you are going to have to be very creative to come up with a good single-word name that isn’t already taken!

This name is known as your legacy name. You do need to understand the difference between your avatar’s legacy name (the name you chose for your avatar when you created your Second Life account) and your avatar’s display name (which you can change to pretty much anything you want, one change per week). Most Basic users are quite content to set up a display name and be done with it. If you want to create a first name and last name for your avatar, you will have to upgrade to either Premium or Premium Plus (for at least one month) in order to do so.

Here are my step-by-step instructions on how to change your avatar’s legacy name, written in April 2020, before Premium Plus was announced.

I did some quick calculations, and I discovered something surprising: if you have an avatar whose name you want to change, it’s actually cheaper to do if you upgrade your Basic account to Premium Plus, than it is if you upgrade to Premium!

  • Premium (1 month): $11.99 + Cost of Name Change $39.99 = $51.98
  • Premium Plus (1 month) $24.99* + Cost of Name Change via Concierge $15.00 = $39.99

*This is a time-limited promotional price. Afterwards, the price is $29.99 monthly.

So, if the only thing you are interested in is creating a first name and last name for your avatar, you could upgrade that account to Premium Plus for one month, submit a concierge request to pick a first name and last name, then downgrade your subscription back to Basic! (Yes, if you change your legacy avatar name, you do not lose it when you go from Premium or Premium Plus to Basic. You also don’t get the signup bonus, obviously.)

Also note that the last name you can choose for your avatar is limited to whatever choices are on the list of available last names at the time you make your request.

Number of SL Groups You Can Belong To

A big difference between the three levels of Second Life accounts is the number of groups you can be subscribed to at any one time. Many Basic users already are well familiar with the dance of unsubscribing from one store group in order to join another, once they hit the limit! In worst case scenarios, you might have to unsubscribe from a group with a group join fee, and then have to repay that fee to rejoin that group later. It’s obviously not ideal, and so both Premium and Premium Plus do offer you more group slots.

  • Basic accounts: limit of 42 groups
  • Premium accounts: 70 groups
  • Premium Plus accounts: 140 groups

So a freebie fashionista like Vanity Fair, who keeps bumping up against the 70-group limit because of all the store groups she belongs to, is a good condidate for an upgrade to Premium Plus! (And I am considering it.)

An interesting fact is that, if you have a Premium account subscribed to more than 42 groups, and then downgrade to Basic, you can still stay subscribed to all the groups! You will not be forced out of any groups. However, you will not be allowed to join any new groups until you bring your subscriptions down below 42! I assume the same applies to Premium Plus.

Priority Entrance into Full Sims

A nice perk (and one that comes in quite handy at times!) is that Premium and Premium Plus users get priority access to jam-packed, full sims, while Basic users have to wait until the number of avatars on a sim goes below a certain level before they can teleport in. (There are automated tools like the free Teleporter Hammer you can use, but if the sim is full, you still might be waiting for hours or even days to get into some overcrowded, popular sims!)

True story: there was once a time-limited 10th anniversary sale at Junbug, a wonderful vintage, historical, and fantasy womenswear store, where everything was priced at only L$10 each! The Teleporter Hammer was not working for me at all, despite days of trying, and I was so absolutely desperate to get a certain avatar (with a Basic account) into that store sim to so some bargain shopping, that I upgraded her from Basic to Premium for one month, just to get her into the sale!

Free Land Allowance and Linden Homes

Basic accounts get no free land allowance. If you want to get a free Linden Home, or want to purchase a parcel of land on the SL mainland, you must upgrade from Basic to Premium or Premium Plus. (Note that most Basic users simply rent land from estates created by landlords on private sims in Second Life. The downside of this is that, if your landlord suddenly closes shop, you lost your carefully decorated home—although you will probably get all your home decor returned in one big lump!)

  • Premium: 1,024 m² free land (which can be used for a Linden Home if you wish)
  • Premium Plus: 2,048 m² free land

Linden Lab has been busy creating a new continent full of sims with Linden Homes in a variety of styles over the past few years (for example, I picked up a lovely Victorian home on a landscaped parcel for an alt when I upgraded her from Basic to Premium in order to change her legacy name). LL has announced that they will be releasing 2,048 m² Linden Homes at some point in the future, as another incentive for you to upgrade, but nothing is currently available.

For example, if you upgraded from Basic to Premium Plus, you could use half of your 2,048 m² free land allowance to pick up a lovely Linden Home, and use the other half to “buy” (actually, lease) a 1,024 m² plot of Second Life mainland for a second home or a store.

Also, Linden Lab has announced a new concierge service, called Choose Your Linden Home, where you can submit a support ticket instead of trying your luck with the Second Life website, hoping to find the type of Linden Home you want, in the location you want!

Note that, unlike legacy names, you do not get to keep your free land when you downgrade from Premium or Premium Plus back to a Basic account!

Various Fees

In order to prevent abuse of resources, there are fees associated with various actions in Second Life. For example, Basic and Premium accounts have to pay L$100 to create a new group, while Premium Plus users can create groups for only L$10 each.

Uploading images, sounds, and animations costs L$10 each if you are a Basic or Premium member, but are free if you are a Premium Plus member. For example, if you are a content creator, or you use a wardrobe system which allows you to save a picture of each outfit, it might be worth it to splurge on a Premium Plus account!

If you wish to create a single event listing in the SL calendar, it costs L$50 for Basic users, L$10 for Premium users, and free for Premium Plus users. Basic users cannot create recurring (i.e., weekly or monthly) events, but Premium users can do so for L$50, and Premium Plus users can do it for free, so if you run a club or store and create a lot of events, it’s likely worth the upgrade to Premium Plus!

This is just a summary of the comparative benefits of the three levels of Second Life accounts. For more information about Premium Plus, you can read the official announcement from Linden Lab, from which the following comparison table comes:

Inara Pey also has an excellent blogpost summarizing the particulars of Premium Plus, with charts and tables comparing Premium and Premium Plus, including a few of her own personal observations.