So, the worst-kept Linden Lab secret announcement ever has now been made – it strikes me as rather a PR faux pas that they should choose to tell people that prim/LI allowances are going up some days after the actual event… That’s a bit like throwing somebody a birthday party, and then yelling ‘Surprise!’ a week later. Maybe I’m being a bit churlish there – after all, the changes have only been applied to Mainland so far, with private estates to reap the benefits at some unspecified time in the future, after Mainland has been completed.Although we’ve been given a variety of reasons for what is essentially an upgrade of SL, we can only speculate at the underlying rationale for giving away primmage. Linden Lab is a business and it’s highly unlikely that there aren’t sound commercial reasons for such a move, (although this is Linden Lab, so who knows?). There are a number of possibilities: I suppose this could be a move in response to the oft-repeated requests from residents over the years to increase land impact allowances – more prims equals more fun – but I can’t imagine the Lab would arbitrarily just succumb to such demands without getting something back in return, and if they were going to take action on residents’ gripes then the most obvious action would be to lower tier, not to increase prims.
Neither is this an attempt to compete with other virtual worlds – although the new allowances are significantly more than previously offered, they pale into insignificance against alternatives such as those based on Opensim can offer for significantly less outlay. Although SL now offers that one thing that other worlds just don’t have – a large user base – which coupled with the now more attractive and useful land capabilities, is not to be sniffed at.
I think the higher increases for Mainland are noteworthy. You might think that the Lab makes more money from private landowners and would therefore want to keep them sweet by offering further incentives – that may be true, but as anyone who frequents the Mainland will tell you, the Linden continents are in an untenable state. The image on the left is a snapshot of a random piece of Mainland… Just take a look at the number of parcels for sale, compared to parcels that are occupied! Anyone wandering through the Mainland can’t help to also be struck by the vast swathes of abandoned land that pepper the regions. Mainland needs help – it needs a populace – and making it more attractive to buyers in terms of capacity could well be a ploy to encourage buyers to plump for the Linden continents rather than private regions.
higher LI allowances means more bang for your buck, more capacity to build and develop land, greater commercial capability – and all without any price hike. That has to be attractive to anyone in possession of a land parcel, but I can’t help seeing a potential cloud lurking behind this silver lining, and it’s not the cloud that everyone else seems hung up on – lag. I don’t believe for one moment that giving people more prims is going to result in more lag and a less responsive SL, in fact, I don’t think it’s going to make any difference at all in that respect; my concern is purely one of commerce, because I think that LL may unintentionally have shot themselves in the virtual foot by increasing LI, and that the effect it has may well damage the inworld economy, rather than build it.
Let’s take my own situation as an example:
I rent a parcel on a private estate – I’m not rich enough, or daft enough, to own private land myself, and I’ve never seen any real advantage or incentive to go premium and avail myself of the delights of a Linden Home or the privilege of buying a parcel on the Mainland. Nevertheless, I rent a substantial parcel of land amounting to over 11,000m², and I’m always on the scrounge for prims, so an extra 20% would be lovely. The estate owner also has a decent-sized plot, but the whole sim is managed by another resident, who is effectively my landlord. When the extra prims become available, there are a number of possible scenarios that could result, and the one most beneficial to me, is unfortunately the one least likely to happen:
- Best case scenario for me – and least likely: The additional LI is split up between the existing parcel renters gratis and at no additional cost, since it’s free to the region owner anyway. I get more prims and so does everyone else on the sim;
- Alternatively, the region owner keeps all the additional prims for themselves;
- Or, the sim manager gets to allocate additional prims as they see fit;
- Or, worst case scenario, but probably most likely: Additional prims are offered to me, according to my land parcel size, but under my existing rental terms. Since my rent is calculated by prims and not parcel area, every additional prim would cost me extra, but at no extra cost to the region owner.
On a wider basis, I can imagine all the SL land barons rubbing their hands in glee, since more prims will cost them nothing, but gives them a great excuse to hike up land costs for potential buyers. This is particularly true of Mainland, where the extra, extra allowance will simply mean the price of land can legitimately increase over the cost of private estate land. The end result: Even more empty parcels and even more disgruntled residents wanting land, but priced out of the market.
Maybe I’m a cynic and pessimist, but freebies rarely turn out to be better than expectations, and in this virtual world you get what you pay for.
And guess what mother
we just cant get enough
we just cant get enough
New Radicals – Mother, We Just Can’t Get Enough