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
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:
- 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.
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.