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!
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.