Important note: The SL Go service is to be shut down on April 30th, 2015. For more information, please read this report.
OnLive, the company providing the SL Go service, announced on Monday, March 9th, that new users signing-up to the service can now pay for their use of the service with Linden dollars via a pilot scheme involving secure in-world payment booths offered through OnLive’s SL Go support island.
The news came via a statement from OnLive that reads in part:
You’ve probably heard of SL Go, the viewer that streams Second Life from the cloud in ultra-rich graphics, right to your tablet or low powered computer. You might have wanted to try it, but hate giving out your credit card info and personal information. Well, we now have a great solution for you!
If you sign up for SL Go with a NEW USER account you can buy weekly subscriptions in-world using Linden Dollars (L$). There is a private sign up booth where you can create your free SL Go account, and then pay for subscriptions using L$. Each week is only L$650, and you can buy up to 4 weeks at a time. Also, you can return and renew or extend your subscription in-world at any time.
Dennis Harper, OnLive’s Product Manager for SL Go contacted me to provide a few extra details. “This move will initially be for a limited number of new users,” he said. “The fact is, while payment in Linden Dollars has been frequently requested, we just don’t know how the community will use this new feature. Hopefully, given Linden Dollar payments have been so requested, this will be wildly popular. If so, we will take the cap off and offer it to all SL Go user and subscribers.”
Part of the problem here is that payment via L$ can only be made on a non-recurring basis; so there is a risk that people could end-up signing-up to use SL Go for a week, and then never renewing, which would not be particularly good for OnLive’s business model or for SL Go itself. Hence the pilot programme, which allows OnLive to test the water.
However, if the pilot does prove successful – and Dennis and OnLive believe it will be – then paying for your subscription to SL Go via L$ will become a standard payment option provided by OnLive, and the company will implement a means by which existing SL Go users can transition to paying for their use of the service with Linden Dollars if they so wish.
Another reason for not offering L$ payments immediately to existing users is that of technical complexity; there’s a lot involved in providing the means for users to switch over to a L$-based payment plan. As such, it makes sense for the company to trial the system with new users first.
“Solving the transition issue is difficult and will take some more time,” Dennis told me. “We need to figure out how to ‘stack’ payments via Linden Dollars upon an existing recurring subscription end-date, and implement a means by which their existing recurring can be cancelled, without it impacting their use of the service.”
He continued, “And then what happens if a user decides payment via L$ isn’t for them, and they’re happier using a recurring subscription? How do we facilitate switching them back, again without impacting on their use of the service or making them sign-up all over again? So it’s much more complex, both technically and from a user-experience angle, to provide Linden Dollar payments to existing users.
“But, if the pilot programme works out, it is something we’ll be working towards providing!”
In the meantime, those wanting to give SL Go a try, but who might have fought shy of the idea due to the need to supply credit card and personal information can now do so by visiting the in-world sign-up and payment centre at SL Go Island. Signage at the centre will walk you through the sign-up process (which you only have to complete once; after that, you can renew your use of SL Go via the payment orbs located on the ground level of payment centre).
Please note that, for obvious reasons – including the potential to game the system – users signing-up via the in-world payment method will not have the 7-day free trial period offered to them (it can, for example, be too easily gamed).
If you haven’t tried SL Go yet, and would prefer to pay via subscription, you can still sign-up via the SL Go website, which is still offered with the free 7-day trial period. Existing users can obviously sign-up for a new OnLive account using the in-world method if they wish, but will then be paying for two OnLive accounts until such time as they cancel one or the other.
Remember, SL Go isn’t for everyone. But if you have a need to access Second Life while on the go from either an iPad or Android tablet (using the SL viewer only at present), or if you have a low-end computer on which you’d like to run Second Life in all its full richness (using either the SL viewer or Firestorm), then SL Go may well be for you.