For a long time people have been discussing the subject of Tier, it keeps popping up and the general consensus is that it is just too high.
If you own a full region you may end up paying 295 dollars a month, yes real dollars, not Linden dollars.
Even if that is good value for money, it is a lot.
Many people have offered their ideas and opinions on the matter, I myself have brought up tier a couple of times and shared ideas with you on how LL should perhaps offer a wider choice of regions, create perhaps a smaller region, etc.
Another thing they might want to consider is simply letting people pay for the amount of land or prims they use, as the jump in rate for premium users is very high.
If you want to use just a few more prims, buy a little more land, you suddenly find yourself in a new category of tier.
Again, here some flexibility may make things easier for us.
Although it tier is a lot of money, it may be impossible for LL to lower it, at least at this moment.
Recently Mona Eberhardt explained why the Tier is not too high and it made me look at the situation a bit differently, the following discussion on her blog was also very interesting.
You can read it here.
And although this may not be a very popular view, I also feel that if a sim like mine, with such a niche theme as role-play in 1920s Berlin, can not only pay for itself but even make a profit, why can’t others?
But perhaps that is a subject for another blog.
Either way, Tier has not changed in years and although Linden Lab is not very good at communicating their motivation for keeping tier so high, they may actually have a good reason and will not change it no matter how brilliant our ideas and suggestions are.
So lets look at other ways to making Second Life a little cheaper for us users.
Monthly tier is a problem for many sim owners, but another issue they have are the setup fees.
This screenshot from the Second Life website shows what it costs to not only own a region, but to buy one.
Quite a shock to potential sim owners I can say from my own experience.
Not only that, but transferring a region to someone else, moving it, etc, that all costs money too.
I started 1920s Berlin small, in a skybox on mainland.
I didn’t want to lose any money so the project only grew when the sim could afford it.
And when I was finally talked into moving to a full region, I knew I would not be able to pay for the setup fee so I started accepting donations, organizing events, had fundraisers and auctions till we finally got the big pile of cash together.
I was lucky to have found such a great group of people with so much passion for the project that they were willing to support it.
Nevertheless it took many months for us to actually manage to achieve this goal.
A while ago I started adding homesteads to my sim but even though those are a lot cheaper to buy, they still cost more than I can afford easily.
So I’ve been waiting for months for the right moment to add another one.
And of course there are dozens, hundreds or maybe even thousands of people in SL who might be tempted to buy a region but just can’t afford or don’t want to pay the setup fee.
Even if you buy a second hand region, you have to pay a $100 transfer fee on top of what you are paying the previous owner and as they usually would like to get some of that setup fee back, you could still end up paying a couple of hundred bucks for it.
And don’t forget that Value Added Tax (VAT) could also be added on top of that!
So if we can’t convince LL to lower their tier, perhaps we can get trough to them regarding the setup fees and other costs.
Maybe this too is something they won’t even consider but again, because they don’t explain to us in detail why something costs what it costs, we’ll keep poking them with complaints, ideas, suggestions, etc.
And some of us will continue to keep shouting ‘Lower the tier’ at any Linden they see.
Anyway, the setup fee is as big, if not a bigger barrier for people who are considering buying a region.
If this fee was lowered or even scrapped, as I would suggest, I think quite a few SL users would be tempted to buy a region.
Of course this will mean a loss of revenue to Linden Lab, something that they are probably not to keen on at the moment.
But I think that this loss will be overshadowed by the amount of money they’ll start making on monthly tier by those people who now want to buy a region.
A much more steady flow of income than the irregular payments from region sales.
For starters, if they would lower or scrap the fee on homesteads, I’d buy two tomorrow and it would be a lot sooner before I start working on my next full region project too.
I think that the boost this idea could give to the economy, would be worth it.
People are more willing to invest and risk tier than the full set up fee.
Who knows how many crazy dreams people have but can’t afford, will turn out to become the next big thing in SL that will get it a lot of RL positive publicity?
And imagine the buzz it will create amongst users if after years of decline, the amount of privately owned regions goes up again.
Maybe this idea (also) makes little sense, but that again comes down to the fact that there is a lack of transparency when it comes to the costs of running Second Life.
If Linden Lab told us exactly why costs are so high, why they charge what they charge, we may not only stop writing about our crazy ideas, but we might even stop complaining about the tier.
After all, we don’t know how much it costs to feed the hamsters who run in the Server treadmills!
What do you think?
Another daft idea or something that actually makes sense?
Shug Maitland said:
A very good point.
LL has from time to time waved the setup fees so they may have some real info on the life expectancy of those sims and economics of that move.
It would for sure be valuable for us to better understand the nature and economics of the SL hardware system. As you point out, it MIGHT cut down on the complaining (btw, I have a bridge I would like to sell you) 🙂
VAT is a very important point. I suppose there are as many Europeans in SL as there are people from the US, and they all have to pay VAT, which increases the monthly payment for a sim easily to 350-400 USD, depending on which country they are from.
Cisop Sixpence said:
I think they should get rid of set up fees. I also think they should get rid of the requirement for a resident to own at least one full region if they wanted to buy a Homestead or Openspace region. I’m interested in getting a Homestead region, but I don’t want to pay set up or have to already own a full sim (which I most certainly can not afford).
First, bandwidth, not free, 2nd employee’s not free, Hardware not free, housing them not free. soo dropping the fee will do what kids? Yes, that is right, close the lab down. it’s all that keeps them going. sure they could sell the homesteads openly or drop the tier some, but if people like SL, then dropping the fee below what it is now will make it go bye bye.
Jo Yardley said:
You think they pay most of their employees, hardware, company, bandwith from the money they make from selling regions?
I think that the huge majority of their income comes from tier.
That is why I am not suggesting lowering the tier but lowering or getting rid of the fee for buying land.
This would make more people buy land and thus result in more income, not less.
so which fee’s? setup fee for a new island. they wont drop that one. that’s hardware and install costs. other fee’s. really not seeing an issue.
Mikey Hax said:
Bandwidth fees? Hardware fees? What is this the 1980s? Linden labs seem to think so, as they haven’t changed their prices (except upwards) for years despite the market in these areas moving downwards massively. Regions are being abandoned by the bucketload so in most cases the $1000 set up fee is a nonsense as everything needed is already in place and the 30 seconds it takes staff to rename and re activate a region doesn’t justify it. I think I’d find it hard to find any online server supplier these days who would charge a set up fee.
Yes of course they should reduce or abandon these nonsense fees.
Bine Rodenberger said:
I think you are onto something here Jo. I for one am stopped by the huge set up fee. It scares me to be honest, as I feel that my $1000 would be lost, if I decided to leave SL. I have no idea how to find a buyer for my land an I would probably just leave it and money would be lost. Were the big set up fee not there, I am pretty sure I would jump in and get my own full sim – even if it would be profitable. So please keep poking The Lab and the Lindens.
I agree that setup fees are a huge barrier to new folks wanting to buy a region. I can see SOME fees both to cover the actual expense of setting up the region and to keep from having a revolving door of folks coming and going over short periods.
I do have a quibble with your comment about sustainability. It is pretty common to hear successful businesses or individuals use the “if I can do it anyone should be able to do it” argument. But it simply isn’t true. You are fortunate that your niche is self-supporting, and lacks any real competition. But statistically, a region that can self-support for any period of time is extremely rare. There are many wonderful, well made, and well managed places that have expired for a variety of reasons. The long lived regions are the exception, rather than a rule. There are many blogs about why places have failed, but my take has really been that expecting your region to self-support for tier every month is an extremely unreasonable expectation. Expecting your hobby/play money to support your region(s) and any income to help defray some of that is a much more reasonable expectation.
Jo Yardley said:
Perhaps, but I truly am not some sort of management genius and there is some competition for 1920s Berlin.
Not only do we have a niche theme, we have a very strict dress code, we have lots of lag, people have bad apartments, there isn’t much space, the place isnt one that should work, but it does.
Not because of luck but because I put in a lot of effort and a great community has grown with people who also do a lot for the place.
But there are so many mistakes people make and keep making.
I started with the idea of starting small and that the sim should always be self supporting and it always has been.
Most of our tier is made with rent and donations by supporters who get thanks, extra prims and a honorary status for their payments, etc, etc.
I look around me and see sims that don’t spend any time doing PR, don’t try very hard to get any kind of income and don’t organise many events.
Expecting your region to self support in my view is not an unreasonable expectation, it is a necessary expectation.
Or at least expect it to be able to survive on a certain budget.
Laurent Rathle (@LaurentBechir) said:
What do you think of Opensim competition on this matter ? While Second Life makes it mandatory to make money with sponsors, business or else, a sim in some OpenSim like Inwordlz, for example, is enough affordable to have someone build a project without needing to worry about money. I know their community is not as large as Second Life, so it’s perhaps less interesting to have a project here for now, but in the future, could this situation change ? Inworldz has reached 100000 residents this year, while it was around 10000 about 4 years ago.
Ordep Otnemicsan said:
To me this question makes sense only after you can enter Second Life with VR Oculus….
Lee McKay said:
Why would anyone by a region anyway? Just rent it.
Jo Yardley said:
As a region owner you usually have more freedom, not all landlords give you full permissions.
Also if you buy one, you don’t have a landlord who can decide to get rid of the land and kick you out.
When I first build my sim I rented land, then suddenly the landlord got divorced and decided to sell his land.
I was given 24 hours to pack up half a city.
One must know the landlord we can trust (our private sim is rented for more then 3 years already from the same landlord, but previously we had one, where the landlord just left to move to Inworldz and we didn’t even got the 24h notice, all was returned suddenly, lucky as im premium, i ask on the life support and Ll put the region back online for 48 h for us to remove all!) it is a bit like fishing in the water.
But so easy to ensure that trust on landlord was not needed if LL offered an option to save Oars on a data base, for small amount, one could be sure that the region was safe and secure, lets say, a oar stored for 6th months it would cost like 1000 Linden and in case of landlord or for some other region, one had to cease paying, it could still keep the oar to be uploaded when one could afford or changed to another region.
Still There are trust able landlords and the proof is Us, we have our land in mainland (directly bought to LL) and we rent on blake sea (where covenant rules are real enforced and make more then sense) and our private sim!
And even if it is appealing to see the upfront fees removed i do strongly believe that Sl strength is to have big masses of land connected, where any could access and travel, Mainland is what needs to be cheered,and promoted.
Don’t forget to add the VAT charge if not in the US. I keep looking at possible extending my own full region to gain stability and resources but i can never justify the costs with what i can do with SL.