“Dear Ebbe II” (on the subject of Basic account changes)

The Colder Water; Inara Pey, April 2015, on Flickr The Colder Water, April 2015

Update, June 1st: Following the amount of feedback concerning the planned reduction in the Basic account group allowance, Linden Lab has amnnounced this will not now be changing on June 24th, 2019. See: Group Limits Update: No Changes for Basic Members (Linden Lab) and LL reverse planned Basic account group limits reduction (this blog).

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Dear Ebbe,

Five years ago I wrote to you as you formally joined Linden Lab as the company’s new CEO. At that time, there was a certain degree of disillusionment among Second Life users about the platform, and I took it upon myself to comment on one area in particular: that of communications.

In the years since then, Linden Lab, Second Life and its user community have come a long way. It’s no exaggeration to say that things in 2019 are a lot different than 2014. Not just technically, but across a range of fronts, most especially that of the relationship between users and Lab.

You’ve seen this first-hand with regards to people’s attendance at Lab Chat and SLB Meet the Lindens events, where audience support and response has been positive and supportive to many of the programmes and developments the Lab has implemented, and towards the drive to increase awareness of, and involvement with, the platform.

True, things have not always been plain sailing; there have been hiccups along the way, but the Lab’s drive to improve SL and respond to many of the requests put out by the user base has been enormously appreciated. However, the most recent changes announced by the Lab with Land Price Reductions, New Premium Perks, and Pricing Changes (May 29th, 2019) have given me pause, and to take the time to write to you once more.

Throughout the last five years, I’ve personally appreciated the efforts Linden Lab have put into trying to meet the demand for lower land tier and to make virtual land holdings in Second Life more attractive. I also understand the need to offset such reductions with increases elsewhere to ensure LL as a company mains a good revenue flow. As such, while the fee changes announced on May 29th have caused me something of an “ouch!” reaction, I can understand the motivation behind them, and will learn to live with them.

However, what I feel is ill-conceived are the proposed Basic account changes.

Although I can understand there may well be technical reasons for doing this (load balancing to enable the increases to the same capabilities that are to be offered to Premium subscribers, perhaps?), the fact remains this these reductions come across as best as being punitive and at worse entirely mean-spirited towards Basic account holders. As my friend and fellow SL user Will Burns has noted:

One increases the value of a Premium account by actually increasing the value added proposition, not forcing the issue by reducing the value added of the free account.

I would therefore urge you to re-consider this move, and allow Basic members either retain their current 42 group limit, or as a compromise (and while I appreciate this is easier said than done), seek to allow current Basic member retain the current 42 groups cap whilst restricting those joining after June 24th to a maximum of 35 groups.

I am not the first Second Life user, Premium or otherwise) to voice concerns over this move. Please do take the time to consider what is being said the changes to Basic accounts via Twitter, in the SL forums and other social platforms, and how they could stand to significantly alienate a good portion of a user base that, while they may not pay subscription fees, nevertheless play an important role in both the economic and social fabric of Second Life, and who – like all of us engaged in the platform – want to see it continue to thrive and grow and remain a part of our lives.

My best,

 

Inara

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11 thoughts on ““Dear Ebbe II” (on the subject of Basic account changes)

  1. Thank you for writing this, I had been considered upgrading to a premium account for those extra group slots but after the news today I’m really not so sure. Basic members still contribute to the SL economy and to downgrade these accounts to make the price increase on premium more palatable really does feel like a kick in the teeth.

    The first thing they try to sell you on as a benefit of having a premium account is having a ‘free’ Linden home, and they can’t meet anywhere near the demand for the ones with a decent prim allowance at the moment. Of course there are plenty of the old ones left, the ones that are crammed in like sardines with half the prim allowance. But those old ones are hardly a ‘premium’ product.

    Reducing ability to communicate on what is essentially a social platform makes zero sense. Yes you can have your IMs go to email, but that is buggy, and I know several people who stopped getting IMs to their email to find that that particular setting had changed on the website without their input.

    Imo if you have to resort to downgrading the basic accounts to make the premium benefits seem like they’re actually worth paying for you’re doing something wrong.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Too much stick, not nearly enough carrot. & the timing could not be worse: while too many people are still frustrated playing the F5 lottery for the new homes. The price hike is absolutely over due, but give people more of a head’s up and don’t do this to the small business owners in the marketplace… sigh

    Liked by 2 people

  3. While I fully agree with what you are saying, I want to give some perspective as a free account member: I dont care about the group numbers but the reduced offline IMs REALLY hurt.

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    1. I was talking in general about the Basic changes, but you’re right; the focus reads more towards the Group slots; I should have added a “for example” in there!

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      1. Too late. I guess everyone was focused on the group issue wich prompted LL to walk back on that while the reduced IMs remain.

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  4. Thank you, Inara. You have put your finger on it: “while they [basic account users] may not pay subscription fees, [they] nevertheless play an important role in both the economic and social fabric of Second Life” — this is true. Many, many, many basic account users, over the years, have poured in thousands upon thousands of Linden dollars into the SL economy. These changes therefore do come across as punitive (and definitely not neutral), as pointed out by many. That’s how it looks when you take from those who already have less, to give to those who already have more!

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