Second Life Premium Plus launches + some notes; updated

via Linden Lab

On Thursday, June 23rd, Linden Lab officially launched the new Premium Plus subscription package (or membership package, if you prefer), offering a new range of benefits and bonuses to those who wish to avail themselves of them. Some of the benefits come into effect immediately for those taking out a Premium Plus subscription, and others will be deployed in the near future, with further benefits also being added over time.

Alongside the announcement (but not linked to it at the time of writing this) this Lab released a FAQ page on Premium Plus.

What is Premium Plus?

  • Premium Plus is a new subscription package that increases the benefits and options to those taking it above those offered within the Premium package, as well as sharing some benefits in common with Premium.
  • It does not replace Premium, which continues as a subscription package for anyone who prefers it.
  • It does not change the Premium subscription package in any way, all benefits found within that package remain “as is” with the launch of Premium Plus.
  • It is open to any Second Life user – you do not have to be / become a Premium subscriber before becoming a Premium Plus subscriber.
  • It brings the total number of options for using Second Life to three: Basic, Premium and Premium Plus.

Premium Plus Benefits Comparison with Premium

The following as a complete a list of Premium and Premium Plus benefits I have been able to assemble based on available information, and should hopefully provide a direct comparison be tween the two. It may be subject to update.

Note that √ in any field means an unchanged benefit from Premium to Premium Plus.

Benefit Premium Premium Plus
45-day L$ Sign-up  Bonus¹ L$1000 L$3000
Weekly L$ Stipend² L$300 L$650
Free Tier³ 1024 sq m 2048 sq m
Linden Home Option4 Up to 1024 sq m Up to 2048 sq m
Group Slots 70 140
Off-Line Message Cap 80 160
Upload Fees (textures, animations, sounds) L$10 per item Free
Name Changes (+VAT if applicable) $39 $155
Event Listing Fees Single: L$10; Recurring L$50 Free
Group Creation Fee L$100 L$10
Land Experiences (Experience Keys) 1 2
Voice Morphing
Animesh Attachments 2
Support Live Chat Live Chat + toll-free ‘phone (International: use Skye or similar)
90-day transaction History
Premium Gifts √ + Premium Plus exclusives
Premium Sandbox Access √ + Premium Plus Sandboxes
Preferential Access to High-Volume Events

Table Notes:

  1. The 45-day sign-up bonus is open to both Basic and Premium membership upgrading the Premium Plus.
    • Note this is a first-time sign-up bonus only, it will not apply if you downgrade and then re-up later.
  2. The Premium Plus Stipend – L$650 is a flat rate; there is no upward adjustment for those currently receiving Grandfathered stipends of L$400 or L$500.
    • However, the Grandfathered status will be re-applied if the subscription is subsequently downgraded to Premium.
  3. Free tier can be used against Mainland land holdings; or against a Premium Plus Linden Home (coming soon); or a mix of Linden Home and Mainland land.
  4. Linden Homes:
    • Only one Linden Home can be held per account (Premium or Premium Plus).
    • The new Premium Plus Linden Homes will hopefully start to be deployed in late 2022.
    • Once available, 2048 sq m Linden Homes will have their own themes / styles, and the 2048 sq m parcels may in the future be able to leverage versions of the Premium Linden Homes for those who would like a smaller house and more yard / water space.
    • Premium Plus members will be able to go via Land Support to request they are given a specific Linden Home parcel this is not currently part of the automatic Linden Home assignment system (i.e. being handled by the Linden Homes ordering web page).
    • Update: Patch Linden, Meet the Moles [video 37:31-39:08]: Premium Plus homes are to have completely new ground-up themes / implementation, rather than being pre-planned (as per the Premium home themes).
  5. Name Changes:
    • Premium Plus subscribers can change their name for US $15, but this has to be done via an Account Issue support ticket (subtype Change Account Details).
    • The first name remains free form, but the Last Name must be from the current Last Names list.

Premium Plus Fees Compared to Premium

All prices US dollars – see the section below for upgrading from Premium to Premium Plus.

Premium Premium Plus
Monthly Billing¹ $11:99 $29.99²
Quarterly Billing¹ ³ $32.97 Not available
Annual Billing4 $99.00 $249

Table Notes

  1. Monthly and Quarterly billing are subject to VAT where applicable.
  2. Those taking a Premium Plus subscription in the first 30 days following the launch will be charged $24.99 for their first month and $29.99 thereafter.
  3. Quarterly Premium billing is only available to those who were on the billing plan prior to it being discontinued on June 24th, 2019.
  4. Annual billing is VAT exempt in those countries that normally charge VAT.

Upgrading from Premium to Premium Plus

Premium subscribers can upgrade to Premium Plus before their current subscription expires on prorate basis. So, an annual Premium membership that has 30 days remaining before renewal. This value is equivalent to $8.10 of the $99.00 Annual Premium membership they originally paid for. This would be credited towards the initial Premium Plus membership payment at the time of upgrade, either Monthly or annual.

Note that if the credit to be applied towards proration is larger than the value of the Premium Plus membership being upgraded to, Linden Lab will extend the renewal date for the Premium Plus membership to account for the additional value.

Personal Thoughts

Patch Linden’s initial (and incomplete) outline of Premium Plus during his Meet the Lindens session as SL19B did not garner a good response within the forums, largely on the basis of pricing. And, in fairness there are reasons to feel the offering is over-priced; but equally, there are cases where it may be viewed favourably.

Take the free tier offering, for example:

  • For those seeking modest mainland space or wanting to put the tier to Group use, an outlay of US $249 a year doesn’t come off well against promoting an alt account to Premium and paying a total of US $198 a year for the same free tier.
  • For someone (like myself)  who has both a Premium account + a modest amount of privately rented land (at US $10.50 a week), or someone on Basic paying (say) $15-20 a week for a moderate parcel, it is possible that – once available – the Premium Plus Linden Home with their double Land Capacity and fewer-per-region density over Premium Homes might be an attractive proposition.

Similarly, while the rest of the benefits look to be middling – I personally have little need for 70 Group slot, let alone 140! – others might will be appealing, such as the $15 Name Change fee, particularly among those who swap back and forth between names almost monthly (and there are some – I know a few!). However and overall, whether people find the offer in keeping with Brad Oberwager’s “give two dollars of value, but only charge a dollar” philosophy or not, is liable to be hotly debated.

For my part, would I move from Premium to Premium Plus? Quite possibly; as noted above, depending on how Premium Plus Linden Homes regions are presented (e.g. themes, water access), then there is an attraction for me in upping to Premium Plus and dropping the $530+ a year I spend on renting a small private island.

Cica’s Coloured Images in Second Life

Cica Ghost: Coloured Images, June 2022

Summertime is the time in which, when we are young, we gather precious memories of long holidays free from the supposed tyranny of school; times when we can run outside and play, build and create places of wonder through our imaginations, aided perhaps by toys such as building blocks or similar – or even the simple expanse of a piece of paper and a box full of tempting crayons.

The latter are particularly powerful as tools of the imagination, allowing young minds and hands create the most fantastical, colourful worlds, filled with the most bizarre or wondrous creatures and animals from upright elephants to giant ball-like and very happy spiders to aliens apparently visiting from another world.  The worlds we create using them can become a source of pride and a set of memories that, as we grow ever older and put such things behind us, summertime offers us again raising a smile and a sense of joy as they are recalled.

Cica Ghost: Coloured Images, June 2022

Because sometimes – as Cica Ghost reminds us through her June / July 2022 installation, all we need is a little splash of colour to gift us with a sense of joy.

Capturing the sense of fun exhibited with Garden (see: Happiness in Cica’s Garden in Second Life), this installation – called, for the record, Coloured Images – invites us to take a trip back to those younger times when our imaginations lay unfettered, and a new world lay in the promise of a blank sheet of paper and coloured sticks (or indeed, in the bricks or pieces of a toy building set).

Backed by a dark sky spotted with blobs and snowflakes of colour substituting for stars, the installation presents itself as a series of brightly coloured buildings – some complete, others not; some with bits and pieces of painted materials scattered around as if awaiting their turn to be used.

These buildings mostly stand on bases that suggest piece of card painted by hand to give the impression of surrounding gardens and footpaths, while walls carry painted images of creatures smiling happily and windows and great doorways edged as if with flooring petals. With strangely hued and coloured plants adding to the mix, and floors and different levels linked by simply-formed stairways, the entire setting is rich in its sense of imaginative invention and carefree innocence.

Within it, the animals and creatures are not just two-dimensional; they also exist as 3D characters waiting to be found. Some again look to have been painted by young hands that care little for “realism” such as the need for browns, white and black to predominate the coats of cows, or that caterpillars should for the most part be green. Instead, there is a further joyous riot of colour among all the creatures – from aforementioned upright elephant and multi-legged alien through to snakes, caterpillars, cows and more – that is exuberant in the sense of freedom it exudes.

Cica Ghost: Coloured Images, June 2022

As always with Cica’s installations, there are multiple sit points and dance animators waiting to be found (including one sit point right at the landing area – just look to one of the walls!), giving Coloured Images a further sense of fun as one explores.

 SLurl Details

SL19B MTL: Brad Oberwager and Philip Rosedale – summary

via Linden Lab

Tuesday, June 21st, 2022 saw the second in the SL19B Meet the Lindens events, Featuring Linden Lab board member and Executive Chairman Brad Oberwager (Oberwolf Linden), together with Linden Lab founder (and now Second Life Strategic Advisor) Philip Rosedale.

Notes:

  • This was a pre-recorded interview, with no opportunity to ask questions directly of the participants.

 

Table of Contents

  • The following is a summary, not a full transcript, and items have been grouped by topic, so may not be presented chronologically when compared to the video.

A Little Background

Brad Oberwager

[Video: 0:00-5:30]

Brad Oberwager is one of the three investors who acquired Linden Lab in 2020, together with J. Randall (Randy) Waterfield and Raj Date. Since the acquisition closed, he has been very hands-on at Linden Lab, working alongside members of the management team, and he has also brought-in long-time business associate Cammy Bergren as the company’s Chief of Staff.

His biography, as supplied by the Lab reads as follows:

Brad Oberwager has spent his entire career in technology and consumer focused companies as an entrepreneur and board member.
Currently, he sits on the board of two public companies, Asure Software (NASDAQ: ASUR) and Better World (NASDAQ: BWACU). He is the chairman of two companies he founded, Jyve and Sundia and is also on the board of TEGSCO (aka AutoReturn). He owned Bare Snacks, acquired by PepsiCo in 2018.
Brad was Vice-chair of YPO International, a global organization of 25,000 CEOs [where he met and became friends with J. Randall Waterfield, another of the Lab’s owners / board member].
Brad received his BS from Georgetown University, his MBA from the Wharton School and lives in San Francisco.

Philip Rosedale

Philip Rosedale earned a Bachelor of Science degree in physics and computer science from the University of California, San Diego, and in 1985 he created a video conferencing product called “FreeVue”, which was ultimately purchased by Real Networks, for whom he went to work, rising to the positions vice president and chief technology officer.

Departing Real Networks at the end of the 1990s, he founded Linden Research Inc (functioning as Linden Lab), and commenced work on trying to develop both the hardware and software for an immersive virtual reality system. The company switched to focusing on the software – which it called Linden World -, launching it as a publicly-accessible platform under the name Second Life in 2003. As founder and CEO, Rosedale steered the company through until 2008, when he stepped back from the role of CEO to become chair of the board of directors.

In 2009, he founded LoveMachine Inc., with  Ryan Downe, which later evolved into Coffer and Power (2011), with Rosedale briefly returning to Linden Lab in 2010 as interim CEO. After two years developing a mobile application called Workclub that helped bring contractors and those seeking them together, he and Downe announced Coffee & Power would become a new company, High Fidelity Inc. (2013), focused on building a fully decentralised virtual reality environments, and the required supporting applications / services. In 2019, High Fidelity ceased working on this platform to focus on one of the key supporting services: spatial audio, with their product subsequently being licensed by a number of companies.

In 2021, High Fidelity invested in Linden Research, brining in both staff and patents that might be used with the platform, and while High Fidelity still very much operates as an independent entity, Rosedale took the part-time position of Strategic Advisor to Linden Lab.

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Questions Specific to Brad Oberwager

Spending Time In-world

[Video: 7:36-9:12]

  • Has been 18 months since taking over Linden Lab.
  • Does spend a “tremendous” amount of time “on Second Life” – it is his primary business focus, and he is constantly working to ensure the resources needed to improve and grow the platform and its products and available.
  • However, as a result, does not get to spend much time within Second Life as an avatar.

What Drew Him to Second Life, and How Does He Feel 18 Months On?

[Video: 15:00-21:31]

  • Has known Philip for more than a decade and they are close friends, so has always been aware of SL.
  • This awareness included knowing that the former investors – as venture capitalists – had reached a point where they wanted to sell LL as a going concern and move on. However, due to the complexities in running the platform as both a social experiment and an open-ended, creative platform for its users where they can engage in direct commerce with one another, make it it hard to find a buyer.
  • After one opportunity fell through, Brad decided to get involved and make an offer to buy the company. As expertise on the financial side would be required, he contacted J. Randal Waterfield, and together they worked out a deal by which they could acquire Second Life and Tilia (the company’s money service business) and continue to move both forward
  • 18 months on, feels that the acquisition of Linden Lab is more exciting. In purely monetary terms, sees running a business as having three options by which to add monetary value:
    • By increasing revenue whilst keeping expenses the same.
    • By keeping revenue the same and decreasing expenses.
    • By increasing expenses [/outlay] in order to drive revenue higher, and try to ensure the latter outpaces the former – which tends to be the hardest, but most interesting, of the three options.
  • Second Life is proving that it is capable of the third option: it is possible to invest (increase expenses) and grow revenue.
  • Within the company, the mantra is, “give two dollars of value, but only charge a dollar” – the idea being LL might lose money as a result of something they introduce, but over time, that loss will be recoups and turned into a revenue gain.
    • An example of this has been Linden Homes and Bellisseria, what have, and continue to cost LL to develop and maintain, but which has generated considerable excitement for users and a social investment that is hope to grow an eventual return on the investment made in the development.
  • This is the core idea behind Premium Plus – to offer greater value to those wishing to use the capabilities offered, but at an overall lower cost than might be the case with raising Premium fees to cover the same, whilst still allowing those who do not wish to go Premium Plus to still have Premium.

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Questions Specific to Philip Rosedale

What Pleases Him the Most about Second Life?

[Video: 5:36-7:30]

  • In the early days, felt it was the collaborative nature of design and building and the escalating designs.
  • Has always appreciated travelling in SL and seeing the diverse region designs and all of the art and creativity.
  • What he particularly appreciates about the platform today is that, despite the state of the physical world, it remains a place of hope in the way it brings people together who engage and communicate with one another, build communities, all in generally positive ways .
  • Would love to see this positivity, love, and engagement transferred somehow into the physical world.

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What Drew Him Back to Virtual Reality?

[Video: 9:15-14:22]

  • Opening the means for people to communicate and engage with one another through the use of technology / on-line has always been one of his driving passions.
  • FreeVue was revolutionary in it time – if limited by the technology. By the time of SL, the technology allowed the ball to be moved much further forward.
  • High Fidelity (HiFi) came about as a result of him purchasing one of the gyroscopic chips now used within VR headsets, experimenting with it and realising the potential it represented for VR – although admits he was wrong in his belief of how fast head-mounted displays (HMDs) would “change the world”.
  • Ten years on from that point, recognises that HMDs have yet to reach that tipping-point, and understands that connecting people is harder than the technology alone.
  • Does believe [as I’ve actually always stated as a layperson – please pardon the horn tooting] there are specific vertical markets for HMDs. One such vertical is education – which is also a market where Second Life has long proved its value, and is a market that will only grow as technologies such as HMDs mature.

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Second Life and “the Metaverse”

On SL and Upcoming “Metaverse Platforms”

[Video: 31:04-40:35]

  • Philip Rosedale:
    • Notes the origins of the term “metaverse” in Neal Stephenson’s 1992 novel Snowcrash, and notes that what we’re seeing now is the latest resurgence of interest in the idea.
    • Believes this resurgence has been spurred by three things: COVID and the need for social isolation; the general rise in noise around crypto and web 3.0; and Facebook throwing a Hail Mary in trying to claim the “Meta” verse to recapture HMD hype.
    • Notes that much of the noise around crypto and NFTs actually echoes what has been available in Second Life since its earliest days. However:
      • Within Second Life, the concept of “the metaverse” was empowering people to create things together within a single space. This is what spurred everything else – you needed an economy not for “currency” speculation, but to enable people to engage in commerce.
      • Much of the current thinking about “the metaverse” runs contrary to this, as it starts with exploitation: obtaining data from people in order to push them into consumer-based activities.
    • Very much hopes SL can continue to grow as an example of what “the metaverse” can more positively be, and encourage others to move in the same direction.
    • Does worry that the term “the metaverse” is being used to promote ideas very different to those found in SL, ideas that see personal data as the “currency”.
  • Brad Oberwager:
    • In terms of Meta and the rest, they have had zero impact on Second Life; Zuckerberg may try to usurp the term “metaverse” but the residents of Second Life just carry on.
    • Where there is a broader impact, it is in consideration of where and what to invest in within Second Life, particularly in terms of rising above those environments that are being built around the crypto-currency / advertising model which could have the advantage of offering experiences for “free” where they’d have to be charged for within SL.
    • However, LL is steadfastly against direct advertising intrusion as a means of leveraging “payment” for services to users. This means the focus is liable to remain on the precepts of creativity and social engagement, and trying to encourage social groups into the platform by offering unique opportunities and experiences.
    • Touches on TOSL – The Office of Second Life and the management team of Grumpity, Mojo, Brett and Patch Linden, who are responsible for running the day-to-day Second Life operations – and their focus on attempting to bring richer, deeper experiences into Second Life.
    • Notes that the resurgence interest in “the metaverse” from other companies offers LL the potential to pick and choose who they might want to partner / collaborate with in order to bring new experiences to SL residents.

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On SL’s Longevity Compared to Other Platforms?

[Video 40:39-46:00]

  • Philip Rosedale::
    • Again, the collaborating, creative elements.
    • A common critique of Second Life in the early years was the lack of polish to the viewer UI, and predictions that once “professional” designs stated work on a competitor, virtual worlds will take off. However, this wasn’t the case and polish to the UI wasn’t the key.
    • Another point is that today, the big audience pullers of the world – Fortnite, Roblox, etc., – tend to cater to a younger demographic; but the reality is still that there is nothing that caters for “grown up” sensibilities and creativity in a manner that matches SL, and none of the alternatives – VR Chat, etc, – are close to offering the broad range of creative freedom or the audience reach to be seriously considered a core part of “the metaverse”.
    • This ability to capture a more adult demographic is potentially the “secret sauce” any platform needs to feed it if is to grow to fulfil a vision of “the metaverse” – and it is something that is hard to find .
    • Also feels that there are a lot of governance, technology and management hurdles that need to be cleared – and that’s going to take a lot of time for others to sort out and SL continue to build upon.

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