In a move that’s already garnered some heavy criticism, Linden Lab today announced some significant prices on a type of land called Openspaces. It’s the type of land meant for ‘light’ use. Over the past seven months that Openspaces has been available, some have exceeded any sane definition of ‘light use’.
That’s not a bone of contention – but Linden Lab’s response to it is. Instead of warning or banning the offenders, all Openspaces owners are being slugged with an extra US$50 per month (from $75 to $125), effective 1st january 2009. In addition to that, the previously available educator discount is being removed. From an Australian perspective, our current exchange rate woes mean that the cost hit is even higher.
To use a real-world example, this decision is the equivalent of a local council informing all ratepayers in a particular zoning area that they have to pay much higher rates each year because someone in their street has ignored zoning regulations. Add to that the real world economic situation and you can imagine the push back from Second Life residents. It’s actually one of the more nonsensical decisions I’ve seen Linden Lab make and aside from some short term revenue gains it seems the end result will be an even greater momentum for OpenSim grids who provide more competitive pricing. The educator discount hit is particularly significant – they’re a key demographic driving innovation and interest in virtual worlds and treatment like this is far from deserved.
No-one can fully blame a private company from seeking to increase revenue, but when the rationale doesn’t match a community’s expectations of fair play, only dissent and an impact on the Second Life economy are the likely outcomes.
What are your thoughts? Is this decision going to affect your current land holdings or influence your future purchasing decisions?
Update: There’s an excellent roundup of the coverage and protest options on Vint Falken’s blog.
Update 2: Linden Lab CEO Mark Kingdon has communicated a backdown on the pricing policy.