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.

16 thoughts on “Going Premium 1: the upgrade

  1. Would take more than a game thingy to get me swayed… I respect you are invested in SL in ways Im not anymore … They can try and throw gifts, games, “privacy” (please do not make me laugh) at me but what I want the most they consistently refuse to give.
    Stability, fixes of Jiras older than I am, “My World, My Imagination”, No kids on my turf, staying out of inworld business, reduction of tier. That is what I want and that is something they wont give. Trinkets and bling I can buy for myself IF I want it and from creators far more skilled than LL ever will be.
    Sorry dont mean to sound like a wet blanket but Im to old to even wanna bother with niceness.. both virtual age and physical age 😉

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    1. SL is massive, and as such stability is an issue – but it is being worked on and is improving. Small VWs have the luxury of being perceived as “more stable” simply because they are smaller & have yet to be placed under the pressure SL experiences each and every day. Leave us not forget, SL’s *average* daily concurrent user count is often greater that the *total* user base of one (or even several) other VWs.

      Kids on your lawn? I fail to see this. Sure, teens are allowed into SL – but speaking as an adult and someone who is age verified and is familiar with adult-oriented environments etc., in SL – I have yet to see any issues relating to teens, other than the hype Sky News attempted to stir-up this last week by rehashing reports 4 years old and endeavouring to present them as “current” news.

      Of course, I’m concerned about the *potential* consequences of teens being on the grid, but dealing with that amounts to common sense on my part side of the screen as much as anything else. And, let’s be honest – with the best will in the world, just because a VW has a “over 18 only” policy is absolutely no actual guarantee of anything. Again, if I’m honest, I’ve havd the great good fortune to deal with a number of teens – Blaze, who used to comment on this blog being one – and in conversation and action, I’ve actually found them to be as level-headed and responsible as most adults I deal with daily in-world.

      JIRA remaining unaddressed – this is an issue in some respects, but again, SL is massive, and not everything can be achieved as we’d like. LL have shown remarkable levels of deafness at times in dealing with some JIRAs, but at other times they’ve demonstrated remarkable alacrity. Sadly, it’s only the former that get flagged (and I’m as guilty as anyone for this); the latter rarely get a mention.

      Tier, yes is an issue – I’ve said so myself, and still am of the opinion that longer-term LL need to to address it (and I’ll be surprised if wheels are not turning in that direction). Time will tell. For my purposes, however, I have what I need in SL and while the same amount I pay would potentially give me access to a greater land area elsewhere and more prims – these are not strong selling points for me – and any wholesale move would lose me far more than I’d initially stand to gain.

      Gifts – wll, my views are on record :). However, I would point out that the gifts provided *are* of an extremely high quality and supplied to LL by one of SL’s own content creators, they’re not something LL has made and it’s unfair to give that impression. I just personally don’t have any use for yet more furniture :).

      Games – well, again, the point isn’t the game per se; it’s the tools and creative capabilities that will come out of something like Project LR, and which Rod Humble has already indicated will be made available to the community as a whole.

      With SL, the reality is we can look at things in terms of the glass either being half empty or half full. I freely admit, 18 months ago I was sitting on the “empty” side of the argument and awaiting it to drop to the level of dregs. Today I’m far more towards the “half full” side of things and can see lots of opportunities for more to come that will fill the glass even further.

      Will I feel the same in another 12 months? Well, that’s the L$64,000 question, isn’t it? :).

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  2. Your contributions to Second Life are quite significant so if someone like yourself chose the basic membership that would be fair and understandable. I encourage everyone to purchase a Premium membership if only to support the continued efforts of LL. However, with the bonus, stipend, gifts, 512 sq meters tier free, Support, and entry to Premium only areas, the Premium membership is actually a great deal for any resident. Congratulations!

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    1. TY for the comments on my “contribution”, I just enjoy blogging, and am happy people enjoy it as well.

      Well, you have my views on the rewards :). There is *great* benefit here for new joiners to take up Premium; house / land are great (my concerns about people not climbing upwatds on the property ladder as LL had hoped notwithstanding.

      I’m still not convinced that existing members get much of a boost going from Basic to Premium in terms of the rewards – although I can see so cases where having a “bolt hole” of a Linden Home could be handy!

      Stipend does tickle me. People look upon it as a great reward. Spend $72 and get $44.69 back. Personally, and on stipend alone, I’d rather keep the entire $72 and put it to other uses :).

      But – where you hit the nail on the head – is with the *new* Premium-only areas; not so much the sandboxes in my case (I’m fortunate and have my own build space) – but because of the wider opportunities.

      I’m curious to see how Live Chat works out – due to the hiccup I experienced in upgrading (again, not LL’s fault), looks like I’m going to have to put in a call at some point to see if things are going to be fixed.

      Feels strange being back in Premium; no idea why. It’s not like I have a gold star or anything – but oddly, I *do* feel more “involved”; quite curious to know how long that feeling lasts.

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  3. I atually have a question about that Linden Homes and the 512sq tier free. If I upgrade to premium now, I get Linden Home I have no use for – can I abandon that for a purchased peace of land?

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  4. I started out as premium back in 2006, and have gone back to basic twice since. The only reason I am avoiding going back to premium now (as I am also feeling optimistic) is due to current economic issues. The risk of having my account locked for a missed payment is too great. Why on earth they do not just drop the account to basic is beyond me, but I have seen too many folks lose longstanding accounts to risk it.

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    1. Account locking is somethat that put me off for a long time. I opted to bite the bullet and go for annual, so that risk is minimised. Good to hear you’re also feeling optimistic – that’s two half-full glasses on the table! 🙂

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  5. >> … particularly as not everyone in Europe is in a position to reclaim VAT paid

    Just a quick comment to point out that there is no need to reclaim VAT. Those with a registered business and a VAT number don’t pay it as it is not charged by LL.

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  6. Welcome to Premium!
    I did claim the gifties when they first came out, even met a Linden who was hanging out there. Pretty as you said, but I’m not using them either – its a prim allotment thing, whatever. I have taken advantage of the premium only sandboxes on many occasion too. I find them very empty, smooth running and peaceful. Good place to go when I’m stuck on a design.

    I’ve been premium since I tiered up back in 2006 was it? (avatar senility kicking in!) I had to move my store from renting land on a sim – the owner was selling due to a price hike or whatever it was LL had cooked up at the time – to hunkering down on Knot sim mainland, where I’ve been ever since.

    I’m old skool, so I still get the 500L/week. So its been slashed to 300L now? Interesting.

    I’m neither for or against going premium. Its just the way I roll and how I wanted to have my store – on land I “control” as much as one can outside of owning a sim.

    I too am looking forward to checking out that game…. Maybe we’ll meet playin 😉

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  7. Well i’m premium and only due to the life support, that now seems to work much better then 2 years ago.
    For sure i fear if a payment is missed Ill loose all, and hope they will review that policy that is making a lot not moving up to premium.
    Ill not address One that posted here, that as a landlord simply didn’t paid the tiers and manage to have my lover and mine closed suddenly, and if it was not for the fact that i was premium and had the tiers paid in advance to that one, LL would not let me, rip of out lovely home, for 24h, to take out all non copy stuff!
    So another reason to be premium and a less one to make me try other girds where those persons are active!

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