Awise accountant once told me that we pay for those things that we value. If we see no value in something, or perceive something as overpriced, we’ll pass on by.
This is something that Linden Lab really need to appreciate, since they are running the risk of pricing themselves out of the market in some respects, and are definitely failing to understand their core user base. Let’s put aside, on this occasion at least, the ridiculously expensive (and needlessly complicated) land tier system, which is long overdue for a complete overhaul and simplification, if they ever want to attract more people to aspire to land ownership on mainland – instead, I want to consider the Lab’s latest offering in the arena of private regions.
First, let’s get the congratulatory stuff out of the way. Well done Labbies, for recognising some of the flaws that have always caused issues in SL, and using your new-found, cloud-based, Amazon webbiness to find some clever solutions. So, ten out of ten for creativity… Minus several million for coming up with a sensible approach to implementing it.
I’m talking about the all-new, sparkly and shiny, Event Regions. Yes, finally the Lab has tackled the annoying problems experienced when you bring together a massive number of avatars, (OK, technically a maximum of 100, but usually 40, so not so massive, really), in a single region, all of them wearing billion-triangle mesh bodies, performance is going to take a huge hit. Anyone who’s been to a shopping event, expo, or SLB will have experienced the joys of being unable to move, surrounded by a mass of curry-cloud companions, whilst your hair hovers somewhere in the air off to one side and your clothes stubbornly refuse to even think about rezzing, will appreciate the problems that large-scale gatherings pose for SL; and so… Event Regions.
These all-new private islands allow an extra 75 avatars, 10k extra primmage, and a few other bells and whistles including ‘white glove concierge service’ – whatever that is (presumably, a step up from the ‘latex glove, bend over and brace yourself service’ the Lab normally offers!). All of this, with a promise that you’ll get improved performance, (unless you happen to be using all those extra prims, in which case, you probably won’t).
Wow. How cool is that? Just one small thing, how much is that going to cost me?
Well, let’s skip the – month of June only – ‘cheap’ introductory offer: Most events are months in the planning and preparation, so won’t be in a position to take advantage of this until it’s at its normal full price, which is just US$999 set up fee, and a mere US$899 every month thereafter.
Yep, only triple the cost of a normal full region to set up, and over four times the monthly cost to keep it running… And those aren’t linden dollars, that’s real hard cash, and a disconcertingly large amount of the green, folding stuff at that.
Who on earth at the Lab thought this was a bargain, and one that will entice event organisers in their hoardes to part with all their profits just to have a bit less lag? Let’s face it, anybody with a grain of common sense would have shot that idea down in flames without any hesitation. Nobody in their right mind will be paying that sort of cash for land, and here’s why:
Let’s imagine a typical conversation at Sexy Themed Clothing Events Inc as they plan their next inworld expo…
Sexybeach Resident: ‘So, there’s these new Event Regions. Gonna cost us, like megabucks and completely wipe out our profits, but hey, no lag, extra prims, white gloves… Whaddya think?’
Beachsexy Resident: ‘Are our existing regions always rammed, but people keep trying until they get in, anway?’
Sexybeach Resident: ‘Yep’
Beachsexy Resident: ‘Are they laggy as hell, but the punters still come?’
Sexybeach Resident: ‘Yep’
Beachsexy Resident: ‘Any creators bugging us for more prims, so they can make even more lag?’
Sexybeach Resident: ‘Nope’
Beachsexy Resident: ‘And they don’t cost us a grand a month?’
Sexybeach Resident: ‘Nope’
Beachsexy Resident: ‘I say, we stick with the deal we’ve got, and rake in the profits.
Like I said: Perceived value.
What baffles me is the thought process behind such massive fees in the first place. What do the Lab think they’re selling here? It’s literally just a little bit of space on a hard disk, and a few inconsequential maintenance costs on top; it’s not like they’re selling real land, studded with gold nuggets and vast quantities of buried treasure!
I can’t help thinking that maybe the Lindens have managed to get caught up in the metaverse virtual land explosion hype, where chunks of virtual real estate are apparently being bought and sold for thousands, even millions, if the stories are to be believed. However there’s a huge difference between ‘virtual worlds’ which have been set up (almost certainly) as vehicles for large-scale laundering of highly volatile crypto-currency, and good ol’ SL, where all land is ultimately owned by Linden Lab and is merely a convenient solid surface to dump a store on… But, clearly the Lab have a completely misguided understanding of their own commodities and on this occasion I predict, with a high degree of confidence, will end up with yet another virtual product gathering dust on the shelf.
Now, I don’t dabble in other virtual worlds – proper ones, that is, as opposed to those of the ilk of Decentraland and Sandbox – but I’m also pretty confident that there’s nothing else out there comparable to SL that comes even remotely close to charging the sort of sums that the Lab is asking for here, and I really don’t understand why the Lindens are seemingly blind to this fact. So, a word of advice that the new CMO at the Lab should really focus hard on: Come on, guys, get with the programme, won’t you? How about being reasonable for once? What about some competitive pricing that incentivises people to invest in land, explore their creativity and make the most of the virtual world? I, for one, would love to have more land to play with, but my budget is already maxxed out, and that’s purely down to the obscene cost of land inworld that estate owners are forced to pass on to their tenants. If land was more competetively priced, more people could afford it and the economy would receive a huge boost.
If you’re still unconvinced, just pick a random mainland spot on the map and count how many abandoned parcels proliferate in almost every region; how about the thousands of parcels up for sale for years on end, with nobody ever buying? Bring down the land prices, chaps, and just watch how that changes.
Or, on the other hand, you could just introduce a new type of region, and price yourself out of the market with it. Your world, your choice.
I’ve got the brains
You’ve got the looks
Let’s make lots of money
The Pet Shop Boys – Opportunities (Let’s Make lots Of Money)