On Wednesday, January 16th, Tyche Shepherd published her 2018 Mainland Census, examining the overall state of Second Life Mainland, and it makes for interesting reading, as it offers the first “external” look at how Mainland is faring since the pricing restructure introduced in March 2018 (see Linden Lab announces SL Mainland price restructuring).
The overall view is neatly summed-up by Tyche thus:
As we’ve seen with Private Estates 2018 looks like a small revival for Mainland . Ownership is up (though Linden Home Ownership is down) and Owners are holding more land than before (Not surprising with the changes in Tier and Free Land Allowances) Larger land holders have tended to decrease their holdings but there has been a lot more active owners at the lower end. Abandoned land has significantly decreased and there has been some increase in Protected Linden land.
– Tyche Shepherd, 2018 Mainland Census
The Census covers all aspects of Mainland holdings – Linden and non-Linden. However, for this article, I’m focusing more on the Linden held elements of Mainland, specifically because of the changes made to Mainland pricing. Some of the key points of the census are:
- Lab “ownership” of Mainland has decreased by 6.5% through 2018.
- The total number of Mainland parcel was up on, with 132377 parcels held by 60388 unique holders (split between 49084 individual accounts and 11254 groups). This compares with 125010 parcels among 58244 holders at the end of 2017. 31056 of these parcels are directly owned by Linden Lab.
- The mean size of parcels held by private land holders is 3366.5 Sq m, up by 82 sq m compared to January 2018.
- Abandoned Mainland has fallen by just under 4% as a total of the available Mainland (from 22.9% of all Mainland to 19%) – the first such drop since September 2011, bringing abandoned land down to a level last seen in at the end of 2015.The cause of this is undoubtedly the Mainland pricing restructure, which lower tier rates by around 10%, doubled the amount of “free” tier to 1024 sq m and – equally importantly – substantially relaxed the rules for obtaining free land.
- The rate at which land was abandoned also decreased in 2018, most likely again a result of the pricing restructure.
- Total Monthly Mainland Tier, with the new tier rates applied, is estimated at US $630,786, down by 8.9% (US $61,479) on the January 2018 rate.
The number of occupied Linden Homes fell slightly in 2018, by 3.1, although the total number of homes remained constant. There is no direct evidence to support this being a direct result of the Mainland price restructuring; it could be part of a general sine curve of ups and downs in the popularity of Linden Homes. Unfortunately, past census reports no longer appear to be available to examine due to the SL Universe move in 2018. However, I wouldn’t be surprised if the drop wasn’t in part fuelled by some people trading their 512 sq m Linden Homes to gain a full 1024 sq m of “free” tier.
The price restructuring does appear to have stimulated the “lower” end of the Mainland land market (i.e. among those holding smaller amounts of land), although overall holdings among larger land holders has, as Tyche notes, decreased slightly.
To be honest, given the Lab’s feedback on the popularity of the pricing restructure, I had been expecting a slightly larger reduction in the amount of abandoned land as a total of Mainland (possibly 6-8%). As it is, abandoned land still represents a significant amount of the Mainland product, which has – other than 2011 – tended to show a year-on-year growth since 2010. Ergo, any reduction is welcome.
In terms of looking ahead, 2019 presents an interesting year. On the one hand – and assuming no significant Mainland surprises are suddenly announced, there is no reason why the acquisition of abandoned land should not continue, even if at a slightly slower rate than may have been seen in 2018.
On the other, there are a couple of big “unknowns” that are to be unveiled in 2019: the alteration to Premium subscriptions, and the opening of the new Linden Homes continent (plus any plans to grow it). The latter in particular opens up a series of questions relating to Mainland size, abandoned land, and possible trends, as I noted in Second Life: state of the grid, 2018. Chief among these is the potential for abandoned land to increase in 2019 as a result of people both deserting their Linden homes in favour of the new offerings (which it turn raises questions as to what will be done with the existing Linden Home regions that might become sparsely populated), or even for other Mainland parcels to be abandoned in favour of the new Linden Homes.
Obviously, all of this also depends on how the new Linden Homes are offered, again as noted in Second Life: state of the grid, 2018 – and what incentives are offered through any revamped Premium subscriptions that are offered, and which might encourage more users to go Premium and possibly invest in Mainland.
For the full breakdown of the census and charts – all of which make for interesting reading, please refer to Tyche’s post.