Second Life: A Look at Land Prices
New MMORPG.com Second Life Correspondent David Greene writes this look at land prices in Linden Labs' Second Life
Second Life is a pinnacle of social gaming today. In October of 200,8 Linden Labs announced that they would be raising the prices of their privately owned virtual areas know as sims, or more specifically the sims known as Open-Space.
An OpenSpace is a type of private island that Linden Labs made available for light use countryside or ocean. The design team at Linden Labs figured that if Governor Linden can have ocean and green spaces, they should also let private estate owners do the same.
The reasoning behind the price increase was that the overuse of Open-Spaces has put additional strain on some of their network and database infrastructure at a much higher ratio than was reflected in their current pricing. Open-Spaces differ from normal regions in one significant way; unlike normal regions that get a CPU to themselves on the server, there can be up to four Open-spaces on a single CPU. Open-spaces were intended to be used as landscapes, but they turned out to be the Second Life version of affordable housing.
Although Linden Labs stated that they need to take these steps to improve their performance and better reflect their actual usage levels, the change was not as well received by the community as hoped. The announcement came with a cloud of doom and gloom from some of the community, so we took to the lands of Second Life to talk to OpenSpace owner LaPiscean Liberty to find out how this will affect him and those in his shoes.
LaPiscean Liberty is a principle investor and manager in Moon Park Land Sales, a Second Life business directly affected by this change. Moon Park Land Sales offers a wide range of properties from mainland to remote islands.
Second Life has an excellent track record with customer service, but what about when that customer has their own customers? Sim owners can sell sections of their land to Second Life residents, and this is where LaPiscean comes in as a sales person and entrepreneur. When asked about his dealing with Linden Labs in the capacity of a land owner and land sales agent LaPiscean has this to say:
“I believe they are a little confused and shortsighted in the game play of Virtual World Economics. They are on the front of the technology; however they may find that the newer open source grids will be running circles around them. They need global marketing and an application that is scalable to growth. In trying to achieve a balance in real life economics and virtual world real-estate they found that the Open-Space sim cost as much to support as the regular sim.”
With the changes to pricing, some residents are starting to look at privately owned servers similar to Second Life servers called OpenSorce grids. One of the groups spearheading this effort is OpenLife. The philosophy at OpenLife is that of a world for the users by the users. Although in concept this is the same as the thought behind Second Life, OpenLife has not yet become enveloped in the corporate pressures that the gaming industry often creates. OpenLife is growing fast with currently over 45,000 residents. This flux of residences has also prompted some landowners to close down their holdings in Second Life in order to change their focus to where the residents are. We asked LaPiscean what actions he had taken:
“There is cause for a rift in community because of this, and a llot of business headed out to Open-Source grids. However, most successful businesses that headed out to other grids like myself, didn’t lose a presence in SL. Most businesses just reduced their footprint during this transition. I for one did not turn in any sims and don have much vacancy, so far Second Life is treating me well on land issues. In business you have to roll sometimes. Others were not as fortunate as their cost projections for their businesses where thrown off. This put allot of startups out of business as their plans no longer fit their budgets.”
LaPiscean and his staff have also taken some amazing steps to ensure that Moon Park is on the map for a long time to come. Among the many amenities that Moon Park offers there are concert halls, dance clubs, shopping, and beautiful landscapes. LaPiscean has been talent scouting live performers for the venues scattered across the Moon Park. LaPiscean specifically looks at live tribute performers for the concerts he supports. By providing this abundance of entertainment and keeping the traffic to Moon Park high LaPiscean has been able to ensure that there will be renters and homeowners in Moon park for many years to come.
With Open-Source grids becoming more and more popular Linden labs will have to step up their development of Second Life in order to stay on top of the social gaming market. Linden labs is stepping up with new viewer technology, like the first look viewer and their new Slim, but only time will tell if the Open-Source grids hurt Linden labss Second Life on a more permanent basis. Lucky for them the entrepreneurial spirit is still alive and well in business men like LaPiscean and the staff of Moon Park Land Sales. For more information on Moon Park Land Sales please check out their site via the link below.
As a final note to be part of these changes, I myself purchased land from Moon park sales. This purchased happened at the beginning of December and the initial charge for the property was $25.00 per month. The first price change I experienced was after the first of the year and it changed my monthly tier (the monthly fee for land ownership) to $28.00 per month. My Sim owner LaPiscean has let me know that later this spring with the final change to land pricing will make my tier increase to $32.50 per month. Personally for the ability to owneven a small piece of what is Second Life, the price is well worth it.