On Wednesday June 11th, Kitely, the on-demand virtual world provider, announced that their “Metered World” offering has been restructured as a “Premium World” offering.
“Metered Worlds” were one of two world types offered by Kitely to customers, the other being Fixed Price Worlds (which remain unaffected by this change). Rather than being paid for through a fixed monthly fee, “Metered Worlds” were paid for through small fees charged for various actions performed on them, as specified in the Kitely Services web page.
Up until the June 11th announcement, both Premium and Regular Account holders had been able to add new Metered Worlds to their accounts at a cost of 10 KCs per world, per day. However, as of the June 11th announcement, only Premium Account holders remain able to so; hence the product being renamed “Premium World”.
Furthermore, from July 1st onwards, any existing Premium Worlds held by Regular Account holders will only be accessible to Premium Account holders. This means that Regular Account holders must consider what they want to do with their existing Premium Worlds.
For example: to retain access to their own Premium Worlds beyond July 1st, Regular Account holders will need to either upgrade to a Premium Account, or convert their world(s) to one of Kitely’s Fixed Price World plans. Alternatively, they could allow their Premium Worlds to continue “as is”, and simply not be able to access them until such time as they do upgrade their account or convert these worlds to a Fixed Price plan. Because only Premium Account holders will be able to access these worlds, no additional charges will accrue in the interim.
As noted in the Kitely blog post, Regular Account holders can even, up until July 1st, opt to export their Premium Worlds to OAR files for use elsewhere (subject to object permissions and the normal export fee of 150 KCs per world).
A single Premium World will continue to be provided to new users signing-up to Kitely’s Regular Account. However, only the account holder and Premium Account holders will be able to visit it during the initial 6-hour trail period supplied to Regular Accounts – the world will be closed to other Regular Accounts and Hypergrid users. At the end of the trial period, if the user wishes to continue using the world, they must either convert it to a Fixed Price world plan or upgrade to a Premium Account.
Again, please note that these changes do not affect Kitely’s Fixed Price worlds, which remain available to both Premium and Regular Account holders.
Reaction to the announcement has been mixed, with some expressing disappointment at the move, and others appearing to be somewhat confused, at least initially. Some of the disappointment has perhaps been the result of Regular Account holders feeling they are being disenfranchised from land ownership in Kitely.
However, an alternative viewpoint to this is that the move might actually help to further stimulate Kitely’s in-world economy by allowing land rental businesses to develop, particularly where Fixed Price worlds are concerned. If so, this could have a further benefit of allowing themed estates to develop, which in turn may help give in-world locations more of a “community” feel than might currently be the case.