Tier has been a big issue in Second Life almost since day one.
Owning land is not cheap and Linden Lab makes plenty of money renting it out to us.
But now land ownership is going down, fewer people come to SL and even less stay around for a while.
Of course there are still a LOT of people in SL who do own land and pay their tier, but their number is dwindling.
So what can we do about this?
Almost everyone automatically shouts; “Bring the tier down!”.
And yes, that is a good idea, less tier will mean more people renting land and thus LL will make more money.
But of course it is also scary because at first LL’s income will go down a lot and there is no guarantee that more people will actually rent enough land to make up for the loss.
So, Linden Lab is not too keen on lowering Tier but most people in SL are.
But lowering or not lowering tier are not the only options LL has.
How about creating several different types of land ownership?
For instance, LL could decide to give NEW sims a 50% tier discount for the first 2 months.
This would make it a lot easier for people to start new projects, give them a go, see if their sim actually works, attracts people, is fun to manage, without taking a big financial risk.
It would also make things more interesting for those who want to organise a big, one time event like a fair.
There are so many people who dream of owning a sim, who have great plans and ideas but who are afraid of losing lots of money when it doesn’t work.
When I look at how I started the 1920s Berlin Project sim, I remember being terrified of actually starting something that would end up costing me a lot of money.
So I started small, renting a skybox on the mainland.
It took many months of slow growth, building a community, organising fundraising events, etc, etc.
I had to be talked into buying a full region!
Had regions cost only half the tier, things would have gone faster, I would have dared to take that step sooner.
Another option LL could offer are “part time regions”.
A full region that is only online in the weekends and thus the owner only has to pay tier for 2 days in the week in stead of 7.
This could be especially attractive for people who run big clubs.
For instance the infamous Eldorado club in 1920s Berlin is only open on saturdays and I know many clubs that only have events on one or two days in the week, yet they have to pay tier for the entire month.
A sim that is only used two days a week could be shut down 5 days a week and won’t be a burden on the servers 5 days a week.
I bet there would be quite a few people interested in renting a part time region.
One idea that would cost LL a little money but would also motivate people, is lowering tier for sims that are doing well, that have been around for, say 5 years or more.
Sims that manage to survive for such a long time are doing something right and are apparently entertaining lots of people in SL, making sure users keep coming back to SL.
LL could give old sims a discount on their tier.
By lowering the tier of a sim that has been around for a while, you make it interesting for them to perhaps spread out, add another region, expand.
Another solution is to offer Homesteads to people who don’t own a region, at the moment you can only buy a Homestead if you own a full region.
In the end it is simple; people will spend as much money in SL as they want to or can afford to.
They will not suddenly out of nowhere start spending a lot more.
So here they are, with money in their pocket, but it is not enough for them to decide to rent an entire region.
Linden Lab must find a way to get these people to do that anyway.
Well the only way you can do that is by lowering your price, even if it is just temporarily.
If tier was half of what it is now, even if that was just for 6 months or so before going back to 100% tier again, I would have already bought another region.
Right now it will take many months before I am willing to take a risk on another region with the tier as it is at the moment.
Lower tier, if you don’t want to, at least think about many different kinds of tier just like there are different kinds of cable tv options, package deals and mobile phone subscriptions.
Offer more choice, more interesting deals.
This does not automatically mean that you’ll lose a lot of income, it could have the opposite effect.