We’re all familiar with the Lab’s periodic Premium membership offers: every once in a while one will pop-up offering a discount for those who up their membership from Basic or who are signing-up to SL for the first time.
I’d actually been expecting such an offer to pop-up around mid-March. However, it was announced on Friday, April 3rd, with a blog announcement, and runs through until the Monday, April 13th, when it expires at 08:00 SLT.
As the blog post notes, there is no Premium gift offer this time around, instead the lab point to their recent announcement of a Premium perk:
Being a Premium Second Life subscriber carries many benefits – from weekly L$ stipends, to your own Linden Home, expanded live customer support options, exclusive gifts, and more. Just last week, we added a new perk for Premium subscribers, and we’ll be adding even more benefits and features for Premium members throughout the year.
None of this is what makes the offer particularly interesting. As I’ve noted, they do pop-up periodically. What is interesting however, is hinted-at in the body text of the post:
If you’ve been waiting to upgrade to a Premium account, now is a great time, because today we’re kicking off a great new sale: from today until April 13, 2015, you can upgrade to Premium subscription for less than $5 for your first month! That’s a 50% discount off the regular rate, and this offer won’t last long. Upgrade today and start enjoying Premium benefits at our lowest-ever monthly rate.
Up until now, these offers have applied to the Quarterly billing plan, where the 50% discount is applied to the first quarter’s billing, reducing it from $22.50 to $11.25 (excluding VAT, where applicable). However, this time the discount applies to the Monthly billing scheme, as the notes at the end of the blog post further confirm.
Quite why the switch has been made is unclear; while I’ve never myself been convinced as to how well-received these offers are (that’s purely supposition, without any basis on fact), I’d say that the Quarterly plan discount represents a more appealing offer than just cutting the first month’s fee. Perhaps the Lab were finding that even with the first quarter’s bill cut by half, people weren’t overly enamoured with the offer, and are trying to mix things up a little. If so, I’d venture to suggest perhaps offering two months on the reduced rate might be a tad more appealing.
But really, the problem with Premium membership is not so much how much it costs – but what it brings. For the majority of people who can otherwise enjoy and contribute to SL free of charge (emphasis intentional, as “free” doesn’t equate to “feeloading”, as is sometimes made out to be the case), Premium membership really isn’t that attractive. Hence why the Lab have in the past tried to spice it up with gifts. The problem here is, as I’ve recently explored, actually coming up with a Premium package that does offer the kind of incentives that are likely to have really broad-based appeal among users actually isn’t that easy.
In the meantime, if you are a Basic member and are considering upgrading, might I offer some thoughts (as long in the tooth as they might be) as someone who has bounced from Premium to Basic and back again?