Maybe I *am* a cynic, but…

Jack Linden’s latest post on Homestead tier rates makes interesting reading.

In it,  we are informed in glowing terms as to how “Linden Lab’s business remains strong and our revenues are healthy”, so that they can now very kindly “forego the planned homestead price increase in July for one year and also Grandfather tier on Homsteads to the current $95 USD/month”.

Of course, there is a catch: this very “kind” offer is limited to all Homesteads currently operating on the Grid, and those purchased or reactivated before July 1st 2009.  Anyone attempting to buy a Homstead after that date will still get whacked with a hefty purchase price increase and a tier hike to $125 USD/month.

Worse still, anyone who abandoned their OS sim prior to January 1st gets no benefit either – as the offer to reactive sims at no charge doesn’t go back beyond that date, despite the fact many surrendered their sims prior to the end of 2008 because Jack (and others in Linden Lab) stated categorically that Grandfathering was not, and would not be an option. Period.

But even so, at least LL are making an effort, and that should be applauded, surely?

Well, actually no. This “good news” (as Jack has the barefaced cheek to call it) is nothing short of again gaming the land-owning community within Second Life. Why? Well, because:

A) The subject of Grandfathering was first raised back when the whole OpenSpace / Homestead debacle came up at the back end of 2008, and was given exceptionally short shift by Jack himself. It simply wasn’t an option. Now, suddenly it is. So why the shift? One can only assume it is because Grandfathering always was on the cards, but Jack and Co simply wanted to keep this card up their shelves, knowing that if they play it a lot closer to the announced July 1st additional hike in Homestead pricing / tier they could spin things into looking like they are doing people a favour and possibly encourage those who simply abandoned their old OpenSpace sims at the end of 2008 into reclaiming them.

B) If LL are doing so well, with a “strong” business and “healthy” revenues, one has to ask why Homestead tiers are being Grandfathered at all…why not simply announce that the planned price / tier increase has been completely abandoned for the foreseeable future?

Such an announcement would be worthy of note: it would genuinely demonstrate that Linden Lab are prepared to stop profiteering and put user interests first for once. Furthermore, it would potentially make far more enconomic sense over time. After all, what is likely to generate more income:

  • A 6-week opportunistic attempt to artificially bolster Homestead sales before their price / tier makes them economically unviable
  • Maintaining prices & tier at least a further 12 months, thereby keeping Homestead sims on the cusp of profitability for land owners & thus encouraging their continued purchase over a much longer period of time.

But what of those already with homestead sims – surely this is a boon to them, as they are no longer facing a $30 USD/month tier hike on their sims ($360 a year). Well, yes it is – if one assumes that the July 1st tier hike was going to be applied as originally stated. As I’ve said above, I really don’t think this was the case. I think Jack and his gang always intended to offer Grandfathering in this manner. Thus any perceived “saving” is just that: perceived, not actual. so any thanks given  for the “move” in policy is potentially premature.