The changes, which come into effect from January 1st, will see both the Metered (also referred to as “Time-based”) payment options and the Fixed-price payment options revised with the aim of presenting a more streamlined set of options which more closely suit the needs of Kitely users.
Changes to Metered (time-based) Payment Options
The first part of these changes, as announced in a blog post and an e-mail sent to users, will see the Metered payment options substantially revised. Currently, these payment options comprise four plans:
- Free: 1 full Metered Region plus 2 hours in-world time a month
- Bronze plan: $5.00 a month, 2 full Metered Regions and 30 hours in-world time a month
- Silver plan: $20.00 a month, 10 full Metered Regions and 120 hours in-world a month
- Gold plan: $35.00 a month, 20 full Metered Regions and unlimited time in-world.
The monthly in-world time offered under the Free, Bronze and Silver plans can be used as time spent by the user on their own Metered Region(s), and/or as time they spend visiting other Metered Regions. Additional time for these plans, if needed during a month, can be paid for at the rate of 1 Kitely Credit (KC) per minute. Under all of the plans, additional Metered Regions in excess of the stated allowance can be obtained at a rate of 10 KCs per day per Metered Region.
As of January 1st, 2014, these plans will be replaced by two new account types:
- A Regular account, which will include 1 free Metered Region, with additional options still to be announced by Kitely
- A Premium account, which will cost $19.95 a month, include up to 5 free Metered Regions and the ability to visit any Metered Regions (your own or anyone else’s) for free (neither you nor the region’s manager pay for your visit).
For anyone who is either on, or who signs-up to, the Silver or Gold time-based plans before the end of the year (whether they are an existing user or new to Kitely), there is good news: their plan will be grandfathered-in under the Premium account, with additional benefits. This means that:
- Those with the Silver plan will continue to pay $20.00 a month and will gain unlimited access to any Metered Regions as well as retaining their allowance of up to 10 Metered Regions (so they will pay $0.05 more a month than those signing-up for Premium accounts after January 1st, 2014, but have up to twice the number of Metered Regions)
- Those with the Gold plan will continue to pay $35 a month and will retain their unlimited access to any Metered Regions, and the total number of Metered Regions they can have at no additional charge will be increased from 20 to 30.
This incentive is being provided to encourage people who are considering Kitely as a future option to make the move now and take advantage of this limited-time offer before it expires.
Those on the Bronze plan (which has been discontinued as an option with immediate effect) who do not upgrade to either a Silver or Gold plan before January 1st 2014, will be automatically downgraded to the new Regular account. Any second Metered Region they have developed under their Bronze plan will then be charged for at the standard rate of 10 KCs a day (the equivalent to paying as little as $1.00 a month for it, if buying KCs in bulk).
Those opting to stay with the Regular account after January 1st 2014 (whether they were on the Free or Bronze plan) will still be able to purchase additional Metered Regions at the rate of 10 KCs a day. They will also be able to upgrade to a Premium account if they wish, but they will not enjoy any of the grandfathered benefits on offer until the end of December 2013.
There is one other change with the new Metered payment options, and that is in relation to OAR (OpenSim Archive) file operations. OAR allows users to back-up their regions to their hard drive for use elsewhere, while fully respecting the permissions system (thus preventing users from exporting objects when they don’t have the required permissions as set by the objects’ creators). Currently, each OAR operation cost 10 KCs for Metered Regions. From January 1st 2014, this will be increasing to 150 KCs per operation for Metered Regions.
Even without the grandfathering of existing Silver and Gold account plan holders, the new Premium account still offers significant value for money, as Ilan Tochner, Kitely’s CEO and co-founder, pointed-out as we discussed the changes.
“This means that a group of builders, each on a Premium account, can get a LOT of land in Metered Regions and not have to think about time while visiting those regions,” he said, “and they can have all their Premium account friends with them in-world for as long as they want without thinking about time even though they are using Metered Regions.”
Fixed-price Payment Updates
These changes mark the first stage in an overhaul of Kitely’s pricing structures which is designed to simplify them while still benefiting users. As a further part of the overhaul, the existing fixed-price payment options will no longer be provided for regions that don’t already use them.
Fixed-price regions include unlimited free access to all users (so those on Metered plans do not have to pay for their time visiting them) and don’t incur charges for things like OAR exports, etc, while offering the same prim count and number of concurrent avatars as Metered Regions.
The current fixed-price plans comprise:
- 1 Region: $40.00 a month
- 4 regions (2 x 2): $60.00 a month
- 9 regions (3 x 3): $80.00 a month
- 16 regions (4 x 4): $100.00 a month.
From January 1st, 2014, these will be replaced by three new fixed-price region options, the full details of which Kitely has yet to announce. However, existing fixed-price plans will be grandfathered-in to the new structure once it has been formally announced. Because of this, Kitely strongly recommend that anyone wishing to use any of the existing fixed-price payment plans do so before the end of December 2013 in order to benefit from the grandfathering.
Commenting on the reason for the restructuring, Ilan said, “The main goal of all these changes is to enable people who are not land owners to be able to access Kitely for free for as much time as they want. One of the ways we’ll be doing it is by providing a couple of fixed-price region options that cost less than what we charge now but offer less resources than what our regions currently provide.” He went on, “These fixed-price regions don’t charge for visitor time, so anyone can spend as much time as they want inside them without the region manager or the visitor paying extra for it. This is basically like owning land in Second Life – no concept of time.”
Kitely has always offered very competitive rates for users when compared to other commercial grid operations, although their pricing options have at times been seen as confusing or possibly off-putting on the basis of the time-based payment methods. With these changes, Kitely maintain their competitive approach to pricing, while at the same time both removing the confusion / concern users may have faced with regards to the outgoing time-based payment system, and still offering significant benefits to those who are not be primarily interested in holding land of their own, but who wish to have unlimited access to the Kitely grid.