Linden Lab announces significant SL fee changes

via and © ™ Linden Lab

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).

On Wednesday, May 30th, Linden Lab announced further changes to Full private region fees, significant changes to Premium subscription fees and to credit processing fees, and changes to some Premium and Basic account capabilities.

As detailed in an official blog post, the changes can be summarised as follows:

Full Private Region Tier Change

Source: Linden Lab

The Lab notes that:

  • These fees are exclusive of VAT, where applicable, and do not apply to Skilled Gaming region.
  • Education / Non-profit (EDU/NP) discounted Full islands will be re-priced to maintain their 50% discount off the regularly priced Full island fees.

Premium Subscription Fee Increase

In the same blog post, Linden Lab have announced a re-structuring / re-pricing of Premium subscriptions as follows:

Source: Linden Lab

Notes:

  • The monthly fee increase represents an annual increase of 26.21% (from US $114 pa to US $143.88 pa).
  • The annual increase represents an annual increase of 37.5%.
  • Quarterly subscriptions are to be retired as an option for users wishing to upgrade to Premium, but will still be available to those already using this plan. The fee increase of US $22.50 to US $32.97 represents an annual increase of 46.53% a year (US $90 pa to US $131.88 pa).
  • Both monthly and quarterly subscription fees will be subject to VAT, where applicable.

With regards to these Premium subscription changes, the Lab note:

To help with the transition to the new pricing, starting June 3, we’re offering a limited-time opportunity for existing Premium members to lock in their current rates for one more billing cycle, including extending an existing monthly to use the current full year rate by upgrading now to annual. Simply renew before June 24th to extend your current Membership at the same low rate. For example, monthly members will be billed at the lower rate for one more monthly billing cycle, while annual members may renew (or monthly users may upgrade to annual) early to add one more year to your existing Membership at the current lower rate. We will update when the option becomes available on June 3rd. Until then – if you are not up for renewal already, you will not see the option to lock in your current price. Keep an eye out for updates.

Credit Processing Fee Changes

In what will be seen as a further blow to those regularly / routinely cashing-out from Second life, the blog post also announced changes to credit processing fees, to wit:

Effective June 24, the fee for processing credit transactions (i.e. paying real money into a PayPal or Skrill account) will be 5% per transaction with a minimum fee of US$3 (there is no maximum fee).  The fee is currently 2.5% per transaction. This fee change offsets increased regulatory and compliance costs to Linden Lab and is in line with our continued commitment to the long-term successful operation of Second Life.

Change to Premium and Basic Account Capabilities

In order to try to offset some of the negative feedback these changes have already cause (as per at least two forum threads, here and here on the topic), the Lab also indicated increases to a couple of perks available to Premium members, together with a decrease in the same capabilities available to Basic account holders, a per the table below.

Source: Linden Lab

Note that group membership will not be revoked for Basic members who are involved in more than 35 groups at the time this change comes into effect. However, Basic members will be unable to join new groups until they reduce their group enrolments to below the new 35 group limit.

In addition, the Lab indicate that further improvements to Premium memberships  will be announced later in the year, as will a new Premium membership level, “for those who want to get the absolute most out of their Second Life.”

Thoughts as Premium Member

As one who is a Premium Member, I’m not entirely sanguine about the pricing increase – although I appreciate that in trying to pivot revenue generation away from a reliance on virtual land fees, Linden Lab must ensure any potential shortfalls are adequately guarded against. I’m also aware that while the Premium fees increase does hurt – it is actually the first such increase I can recall for a long time.

How this effects Premium level overall remains to be seen; however, my personal feeling right now is that unless the to-be-announced Premium membership level is truly exceptional in terms of benefits and opportunities, it is going to be hard to justify making a leap to it based on the prices announced with these changes and what might be taken from them in estimating to potential cost of any new membership package.

Those who are likely to feel particularly aggrieved are those who do routinely cash-out from Second Life, given credit processing fees have seen a number of increases over the last few years. While the Basic account changes come across as punitive in nature.

Please refer to the official blog post for the full text relating to these changes.

32 thoughts on “Linden Lab announces significant SL fee changes

  1. Some quick figuring tells me it is going to cost me $150 US more each year than in the past. This with letting my newly made alt go back to basic when the time comes. I can see worse scenarios –like those 30 percent Marketplace fees that were hinted at in some Town Hall meetings but that hopefully will not happen after the Sansar changes that impacted creators enormously and were NOT well received — with many folks leaving.

    So we will see how it works out. People are already abandoning their new Bellisseria homes and going back to basic so this may or may not be a good move. Oddly enough (well maybe not) the biggest outcry on the forums is the downgrade of groups for free accounts.

    (make me bold in your mind) Somehow that 20 dollar decrease in private sims doesn’t seem to balance all that well in my mind. (/bold)

    Liked by 2 people

    1. No rumblings about a 30% Marketplace fee. But that increased fee for cashing out money is going to hit all merchants who make enough money to extract some from SL, whether on the Marketplace or in-world. Converting your L$ to US$ to pay tier or estate fees does not incur that new 5% fee or the current 2.5% one since the money is never leaving LL, though you still have to pay the 3.5% fee for selling L$.

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    2. “Somehow that 20 dollar decrease in private sims doesn’t seem to balance all that well”

      For the majority of people, it doesn’t. Period.

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      1. Maybe the logic is to make it more financially viable for people to maintain interesting custom sims (or reduce the rate at which they disappear) so as to make Second Life more appealing overall

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        1. Thats ok. Keep the people who have full regions but force off the users that make those full regions viable. Sombody at linden needs to go back to school.

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          1. I’m clutching at straws Darren… trying to figure out their thinking. I am basically seeing zero tangible “perks” for myself as a premium member (who does not own anything like a full region)

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        2. Well, the call for a long, long time has been to lower the cost of land – and reducing tier can be somewhat attractive. However, given that land tier has accounted for the lion’s share of LL’s revenue. And the revenue raised isn’t just about the simulator servers (as some would have it); it has to pay for the running of all of the other services associated with SL from web properties through to things like the group chat services, appearance / bake service, asset service, third party delivery mechanisms like CDNs), as well as meeting LL’s own running costs as a company. Ergo, if LL is to accede to calls for lower tier, then there must be compensatory fee increases elsewhere. However, as things go there is no denying the hurt factor involved in this announcement.

          Liked by 1 person

  2. In an in-world group where people were discussing the changes, the least popular one seemed to be the reduction in group slots for basic residents. I wouldn’t be shocked if there is enough pushback to force LL to undo that change. (There certainly isn’t going to be an increase but they might leave the current limit of 42 alone.) The Premium membership price increase is also unpopular but people have a better understanding of the reason for it.

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    1. Both of the Basic changes actually strike me as ill-considered punitive moves intended to try to make Premium appear a more “attractive” proposition.

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      1. But it’s not more attractive, is it? At this price, you would expect more stipend, more prims, and give us 100 groups. Or they could have created a Gold Premium with more benefits at this price. I’m happy that my tier is going down a bit as the Australian dollar is not worth much, but it’s still a bit disappointing.

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        1. Which is why I used quotes around “attractive” (“Join Premium and have even moar groups than even Premium used to have!”) 🙂 . As noted, they come over as punitive more than anything else.

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      2. How? By increasing the price for majority of users while lowering for the few. Sounds so much like rl now. Bad bad changes which will be negative. Linden labdls have been sly with this.

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        1. By making the boosts to off-line IMs and Groups to Premium look more attractive. However, as noted in my comment, it fails in this and appears more punitive (physically, and potentially technically) than anything else.

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  3. I will give having Premium membership some thought, an increase of such magnitude makes me think I might be better injecting some cash every so often.

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    1. As per the quoted text in my blog post, that appears to be the case. LL will be giving people the option of renewing early and maintaining the lower rate for an extra month (for monthly subscribers) or a year for annual subscribers, but we’ll have to wait for a follow-up blog post to see how this works in detail.

      Liked by 1 person

  4. Im pretty sure they want to kill second life. Im cancelling as soon as i get home. A reduction for those with enough money to own full regions but for those on premium with maybe small plots of land get hit hardest. Bloody rip off. Sl is not worth $11 plus amonth. Its not worth $9. I hope others cancel to .

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    1. ” they want to kill second life” – which actually makes no sense, given the only strongly viable product LL have is SL, so in trying to “kill it off” they are cutting their own collective throats.

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  5. Thats ok. Keep the people who have full regions but force off the users that make those full regions viable. Sombody at linden needs to go back to school.

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  6. Linden Lab knows that many SL users will be compelled to maintain or establish ‘Premium’ Memberships, due to the new Group Limitations. I’ve long maintained that tying land management, access and security to any form of limited or compulsory membership is #Fail. As another person has mentioned, I think incentivizing private sims, fits LL’s goal of moving to the ‘Sansar’ model of simulator ownership. I would personally gladly pay 2X the private sim rate, if I could move my entire sim build and every mesh asset I ‘own’ to a fully VR-enabled Sansar instance, that also offered a Marketplace for Sansar that contained all the best Mesh creations currently available in SL. A guy can dream, right?

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  7. I’m not happy with these new pricing changes and reduced group’s limit for free basic accounts.

    I hope the lab will at least change something before the end of next month. There are a lot of unhappy people and many are deciding to downgrade their premium accounts.

    Who needs 70 group’s ?

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  8. Concierge level (without Premium) still scores the group increase, right?
    I’m Concierge without Premium and I have 60, so I assume I bump up to 70?
    Or will this be like Premium Sandboxes, Linden Homes, and Premium Gifts that only go to Preemies?
    If so, ok… no worries. I’m only using 57 of my 60 slots anyway.

    I feel bad for all those affected by these changes, but as we’ve seen, Linden Lab will just make more changes that will benefit some and harm (or not benefit) others, and the winners and losers change chairs constantly with each move. Maybe the next shoe will drop on me?

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  9. I’d expect improvements in viewer usability to justify such price increases for premium users. It will be more expensive than Netflix. What’s with an inworld tool to make meshes? What’s with a remake of the oldfashioned clumsy inventory handling? Also support has entirely stopped since years. I do not see SL being developed, so why pay more for it?

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    1. In fairness, general usability of Second Life has been improving. We’ve seen a broad range of technical and capability improvements – many of them under-the-hood and perhaps not so obvious. We’ve seen a reasonable flow of new functionality; the viewer has continued to (mostly) gain in stability, and has had functionality enhancements (there’s an upcoming batch of contributed updates on their way). Communications from the Lab have by-and-large improved over the last five years (although they could at times be better).

      There is obviously always going to be things we could point to as needing work. Some are on the Lab’s radar, others may not be at the moment; some may not be as easy as we might imagine to “fix”; some might be subject to the Lab chipping away to try to improve them (regions crossing being a case in point at the moment, as the Lab trying to gently get them to a more robust / predictable state). So I wouldn’t say SL isn’t being developed, just that some things can take time to come to fruition, and some improvements may not be as highly visible as others.

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  10. Another development seemingly connected to the new Premium Membership pricing structure is the bit of language included at the bottom of this page under Basic Membership: https://secondlife.com/my/account/membership.php

    * Downgrade Warning: If you choose to downgrade from Premium to a Basic membership, all Premium benefits will be lost, and re-upgrading to Premium at a later date will gain whatever premium membership benefits are in effect at the time the membership is upgraded. Original Premium benefits will not be restored.

    I have no idea how long this disclaimer has been there short of one year ago. Perhaps it just went up? In any event, I take it to mean that accounts old enough to qualify for L$400 per week stipend, L$500/50 per week stipend, and perhaps even other post Charter Member tier free special accounts to now have this status wiped away if downgraded or already downgraded to Basic. Currently these accounts could upgrade/downgrade endlessly without losing what I guess are called “Original Premium benefits.” I wish the Lab would just say clearly what they mean.

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    1. The downgrading / cut to Basic capabilities, then re-upping and only receiving the current Premium benefits has pretty much always been a de facto part of Premium membership; it’s not something that has suddenly been added. For example, someone who was Premium during the days of the L$500 pw stipend who downgraded back to Basic and then opted to re-up after the stipend had been reduced to L$300 pw would only receive the L$300 stipend, and not return to the L$500 pw.

      However, anyone who was receiving the L$500 pw stipend at the time of the reduction had their stipend grandfathered at L$500 until such time they decide to downgrade.

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      1. Are their discrepancies here? Approximately 1 year ago I upgraded two L$500/wk accounts from Basic to Premium with original benefits intact. I cannot confirm that either account was still receiving the L$50/wk while at the basic level for any given week they logged in, but I suspect this to be the case. Is it possible that what you say only applies to the L$400/wk and newer accounts?

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        1. I’ve not heard of / come across that that situation. As far as I’m aware, the small print on downgrading from Premium has been there a long time. I believe – but am not 100% sure – that if your Basic account was created prior to around mid- 2006, it qualified for the L$50Basic stipend, and if you downgraded from Premium, that would resume. However, and again IIRC, the Basic account stipend was discontinued for all Basic accounts created after the (the start of?) June (?) 2006.

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          1. Good memory, Inara. I recall the reduction to L$400/wk in the Premium/Basic stipend occurring only days after creating my account, so it probably was exactly June 1, 2006. It *may* be that the L$500/wk accounts are grandfathered in for the reason they still collect that L$50 for each week they login when at the Basic level. We’ll have to clarify this with billing.

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