Going Premium 1: the upgrade

Important update Nov 8th:  Viale Linden dropped me a DM to state a confirmatory e-mail is sent out on upgrading. I’ve again check my spam folders & in-box, and can find no sign of receiving one – but as noted below, I did encounter an issue with Firefox when upgrading, and that could very easily have thrown a spanner in the works. 

Ergo, I’m happy to correct this piece vis-a-vis the fact LL do sent out e-mails.

Once upon a time, I had a Premium account. For various reasons, I ended up at Basic and swore I wouldn’t upgrade again. Period. Never. Nada. Niet. Non. No chance in hell. Forget it.

Yesterday, I re-upped.

Yeah, I know. Some of you are no doubt thinking my middle name might well be “mug” – but if so, it sits alongside “optimist”, and as I’ve noted elsewhere, I’m feeling very optimistic about SL  and LL. Something I’ll return to later :).

…There’s also that blasted Project LR game …

No, seriously. Thought it was time to put money where mouth is and give things a go once more. Call it a frivolous spend of a birthday gift.

So – the upgrade process. Simple enough. Click on an upgrade button on the website, then choose your  payment preference:

Note the VAT… I’ll come back to that.

Choose the option that suits your pocket (annual is obviously the most cost-effective), and click SAVE CHANGES.

Now – I have to admit, I have no idea what happens after you do; I was upgraded, but my web browser (Firefox 7.0.1) locked on me loading the next page (an increasing issue I’m having with it, despite clearing cache, history, etc., routinely); clearing it left me with other issues I’m still trying to sort out.

In my original piece, I failed to receive an e-mail notifcation of the upgrade. Viale – as per the update at the top of this piece has indicated that e-mails are sent out, so I’ve removed my comments, as they don’t reflect what should happen.

Of Rewards and Bits

Once upgraded, I took time out to collect my exclusive gift. Some have mistakenly taken these as being offered monthly, and I’ve heard grumbles in fora about the initial set of furniture “still” being on offer. However, in their original blog post about the launch of the gifts and bits, LL actually said, ““Premium members will regularly receive exclusive virtual items that you won’t find anywhere else.” [My emphasis].

Note the word “regularly” – not “monthly”. This could mean bi-monthly, quarterly, half-yearly… As it is, I rather suspect the next round of gifts will be in the run-up to Christmas, and will be suitably themed.

As to the current offering, the furniture is very nicely styled and presented,but – as an established user, I again stand by what I’ve said previously: furniture and lighting isn’t something many established users are likely to need, as they’ll have an inventory packed with them. It’s also a little discomfiting when one considers balancing such gifts against encouraging people to engage in the SL economy and buy things and also the sticky question of how LL go about selecting merchants, commissioning gifts, etc.

Setpember gift: 47 prims and nicely styled. But…

But still, as pretty as it is, I’ll not be using my little gift.

Stipend is often cited as the major benefit for signing-up to Premium: L$300 a week back in your account, together with a bonus of L$1000 your account is Active for the first 45 days after upgrading. Stipend isn’t what it once was, but so the times change.

Those paying annual membership stand to gain the most (obviously) where the weekly stipend is concerned. Someone joining in the US, for example, sees approximately 62% of a $72 fee coming back to them in-world over the course of a year. Those of us in Europe, however, aren’t so lucky. VAT means this is substantially cut to a return of only 38.6%. Again, this isn’t LL’s fault, but it could be an offsetting factor when considering Premium and the benefits as a whole – particularly as not everyone in Europe is in a position to reclaim VAT paid. But – c’est la vie; what is there is welcomed.

Of the rest of the rewards, the Linden Home interests me the most. When I initially reviewed them. I’m not sure all my concerns have been realised, although the regions devoted to Linden Homes have continued to grow (but not all are fully occupied, LL appear ro keep a “float” of regions) – but it does seem from comments passed at SLCC 2011 that the houses aren’t working as expected. When launched, they were seen as a means of kick-starting people not on the SL property ladder into getting involved, with the hope they’d eventually out-grow their initial house and seek a residence elsewhere. From comments passed by Vogt Linden, this hasn’t really worked out (unsurprisingly), and Linden Homes may be in for a shake-up. Ergo, I shall likely be grabbing one in the near future, just to see what happens (no danger of me abandoning my existing home).

I’m not going to comment on anything else rewards-wise; my thoughts remain unchanged, and I didn’t upgrade for them (or any of the above, in fact). I am, however, curious as to where the “more privacy” comes from in the add (see above); I don’t see sandbox use quite cutting it here. My reason for upgrading falls into two parts:

  • A genuine renewal of optimism for Second Life and interest in what LL are doing. I think the last 12 months have – whether people are willing to be fair and honest or not – seen some tremendous progress within the Lab and Rod Humble is to be thoroughly congratulated for what (and who!) he’s brought to the company, and the way he has managed much that has happened in a short 11 months. As such, my upgrading is my little way of renewing my commitment to the platform
  • My joking at the top of this piece aside, Project LR does have me intrigued; not so much for the game (tho doubtless I’ll be trying it), but because of the way it’s being offered to premiums first. This leaves me wondering what else will come down the line with a “Premium preview”, and I’d like to be in a position to see for myself

So, the Pey Adventure is Just Beginning (cue fanfare and starships…). I’ll be exploring more on Premium in the near future.

Further Update 9th November

Click to enlarge

Following-on from my DMs with Viale, LL have helped put things right be re-sending my introductory e-mail (twice! :)). It’s well presented and laid out, with a series of useful links – including a major link through to registering for a Linden Home in the top half (also repeated lower down).

Many thanks to Viale, and happy to put this matter to rights.

Further Direct Delivery Beta testing

On November 3rd, a blog post appeared from Commerce Linden, referring to a further Beta of Direct Delivery. Unlike the first Beta, this appears open to all merchants. The blog post, appearing in the Commerce section – which doesn’t appear on people’s account dashboards, states:

“To improve the quality of upcoming releases, we are launching a Beta program for the Marketplace. Starting today, Aditi will be used as the Marketplace Beta testing  grid.* All merchants will be able to test new features and bug fixes at least five days before each Marketplace release. In addition to the Marketplace Beta release notes that are produced on the wiki, updates will be posted in the “Technical Announcements” section of the Marketplace Merchant Admin to alert merchants of current beta tests.”

The post continues:

“In December, all merchants will have the opportunity to purchase and list items using Direct Delivery on Aditi. We will be allowing a limited number of merchants to Beta test Direct Delivery in production before the official launch, which will not occur until after the New Year. If you would like to learn more about Direct Delivery, please see the updated Direct Delivery FAQ.”

This last paragraph will come as a relief to many, who were fearing LL might roll-out DD ahead of the Christmas season and inadvertently create issues for merchants as a result.

The full blog post can be read here, so if you’re a merchant and wish to find out more on DD, if you’ve not involved yourself to date, take a look at the notes for access the Beta grid (Aditi) if you not done so before, and head on over.