LL launch “Plus” subscription, reduce Mainland fees and more

via Linden Lab

Linden Lab have officially launched their latest subscription plan for users – and announced both updates to their across-the-board subscription plans that will benefit those liable for VAT, and new fees for holding Mainland parcels of 8,192 sq metres or more.

Details below.

Plus

As outlined by by Reed Linden at the November Web User Group meeting, the new subscription offer is called simply “Plus” (nothing else, just “Plus”), and is designed to sit “between” Basic and the Premium option.

Given this positioning, Plus obviously offers less than Premium in terms of benefits, and is being combined with the reductions in Mainland fees (see below) as an incentive for those who might want to get onto the Mainland property ladder but do not wish to pay Premium subscription rates in order to do so.

Plus Pricing and Benefits

Fees are in US dollars.

Fees
Monthly: $5.99
Annual: $65.99
Benefits L$150 weekly stipend; 50 Groups; 512 sq m free Mainland tier

Note there is no Linden Home or other benefits associated with Plus.

VAT Removed From ALL Subscription Payment Plans

As from Thursday, November 17th, 2022, Linden Lab has removed VAT from all subscription payment plans.

Annual payment plans (Premium or Premium Plus) have been VAT-free for some time. With this change, those paying on either a Monthly or Quarterly payment plan will also no longer have to pay VAT, if it is applicable to them.

Mainland Fee Changes

As from Thursday, November 17th, 2022,  Linden Lab has reduced the cost of monthly Mainland fees for holding 8,192 square metres and above, per the table below (all prices US dollars – fees for additional parcel sizes of 512, 1024, 2048 and 4096 sq m remains unchanged):

Additional Land  (sq m) Monthly Fee (USD) Now Old Fee
8192 $31.00 $35.00
16,384 (1/4 region) $60.00 $67.00
32,768 (1/2 a region) $103.00 $112.00
49,152 $142.00 $150.00
65,536 (Full Region) $166.00 $175.00

Additional Links

Lab announces Homesteads for Premium Plus, and some thoughts

via Linden Lab

On Tuesday, November 1st, 2022, Linden Lab announced that Homestead regions are now available to Premium Plus members directly from Linden Lab and without the need to hold a Full region.

The offering was first indicated as a “coming” Premium Plus benefit during the Lab Gab session with Grumpity and Patch Linden held on October 21st – see here for a summary of that event – and the November 1st announcement builds on this.

In short the details are:

  • Premium Plus members are now able to hold  one private Homestead region from Linden Lab against their account:
  • Regions can be requested using a Support Ticket via support.secondlife.com. Tickets should:
    • Place an order via Land & Region → Order Private Region.
    • Provide a unique name for the region (in accordance with the region naming rguidelines) and a preferred location on the grid for placement.
  • The region can be held only as long as the member maintains their Premium Plus account. Should they downgrade to Premium (or any forthcoming Premium subscription level that does not include the Homestead “benefit”) or to Basic will lose the region.

There are no other changes to Homestead ownership, including the fact that anyone is able to own Homestead regions as long as there is at least one Full private region owned on that account as well, and pay the required fees.

Does This Make Premium Plus More Attractive?

Whether the ability to hold a Homestead region when taken on its own will make Premium Plus a worthwhile upgrade is questionable.

  • If you are not already a Premium or Premium Plus member, then looking at Premium Plus purely in terms of a means to obtain a Homestead region probably isn’t a worthwhile proposition.
    • When you add the minimum monthly fee for Premium Plus (US $20.75) to the Homestead region tier of US $109, it likely comes out to more than the monthly cost of renting a Homestead region from an established private rental estate.
    • Both renting privately and holding a Homestead via Premium Plus have the same core risk: paying the monthly tier.
  • If you are currently a Premium Member, then looking at Premium Plus purely as a means to obtain a Homestead region is a little less clear-cut.
    • On the one hand, upgrading to Premium Plus from Premium costs at least an extra US $12.5 a month.
    • On the other, this fee, plus the month Homestead tier will still be a competitive outlay when compared to renting a homestead through a private estate.
  • If you are a Basic or Premium member who already sees value in other Premium Plus benefits (such as the reduced fee for Name Changes, the other reduced fees, etc.), and are attracted to the idea of holding your own region, then upgrading to Premium Plus is liable to be worthwhile and cost-effective.

This last point is really the key to this offer: obtaining a Homestead is not the sole benefit available to those upgrading to Premium Plus, so it needs to be considered as a part of the overall package of benefits, and any decision made on upgrading should be made on that basis. For example, the option of holding a Homestead region is of little interest to me – but the forthcoming Premium Plus Linden Homes do. I’m therefore waiting to see what happens on that front before I make any decision on a potential move from Premium to Premium Plus.

 

 

 

Premium Plus gains Speedlight benefits & some thoughts

via Linden Lab

On Tuesday, October 4th, Linden Lab announced that Premium Plus members can now leverage the Speedlight client as a part of their Plus benefits.

For those un familiar with Speedlight, it is a client specifically designed for use within browsers and on suitable Android and iOS devices, one I have covered in these pages – although admittedly, not the more recent updates.

Since its inception, SpeedLight has steadily increased the capabilities it offers such that it now includes (but is not limited to) chat, IM, Group chat, inventory management, friends list functions, search options, the ability to switch between devices (on SpeedLight) without having to re-log – and basic 3D world view rendering with avatar movement capabilities. A full list of available features and capabilities is available here.

The core product is offered free-of-charge, albeit it with some limitations (log-in time is limited & requires re-logging every 6 hours). However, there is also a dedicated subscription option called Gold (and quite distinct from the Lab’s Premium Plus), which in turn can be tiered through associated Patreon options to offer additional benefits,

The benefits offered to Premium Plus subscribers have been placed between the existing Free and Gold options offered directly by the SpeedLight team, and are summarised within the Lab’s announcement as:

  • Unlimited online time at SpeedLight.
  • Access to Speedlight’s Advanced 3D World view [the cutting-edge element of Speedlight’s 3D rendering capabilities, offering options and abilities first, some of which may (or may not) eventually filter down to Free accounts].
  • Prioritised support (tickets and live chat).
SpeedLight is now available to Second Life Premium Plus subscribers with special options. Image via Speedlight

Given the frequent calls for the Lab to supply a mobile option for accessing Second Life – particularly since the stagnation of Android-based Lumiya -, and with its multi-platform reach, list of capabilities and a basic world rendering capability, Speedlight does have a lot to offer.

However, I would be remiss if I did not mention the graphics used in the Lab’s announcement. Placing a full-feature in-world image of Second Life on both a laptop and mobile device screen might lead to misguided expectations among some (e.g. users relatively new to SL) that SpeedLight offers the same graphics fidelity as an actual viewer; something the SpeedLight team would be the first to acknowledge is not the case. So perhaps a footnote stating the images are not from SpeedLight might be in order to avoid this and accusations of misrepresentation?

That aside, this is an interesting turn in Premium Plus subscription benefits. Not so much the SpeedLight offer itself, but rather if the move might signal a start of other “partnership benefits” for Plus subscribers – such as with creators / businesses from within SL own ecosystem, or with some of the Lab’s content partners. If this is the case, it’ll be interesting as to what might come next.

Related Links

SL Name Change fees updated & service extended to Basic accounts

via Linden Lab

On Wednesday, August 3rd, Linden Lab announced a significant update to the Second Life Name Change service, previously only available to Premium Accounts.

Name Changes as a service was launched in April 2020, at a cost of $39.99 (+VAT, where applicable) for changing a either an avatar’s first name, last name – or both.

As most know, first names are free-format (choose whatever you’d like – within reason!), with last names selectable from a pre-defined list that is updated semi-regularly (e.g. with general or “themed” names to mark a time or year, SL or physical world event, etc).

With the deployment of the new Premium Plus subscription option in June 2002 (see: Second Life Premium Plus launches + some notes; updated), it was indicated a new lower fee level for Name Changes would be one of the follow-on benefits for Premium Plus subscribers, to be introduced some time after its initial launch.

With the August 3rd, 2022 announcement, the Lab not only provided details on this Premium Plus fee, they also revealed Premium members would see their fee lowered, and the service is now extended for all account types – Basic, Premium and Premium Plus.

With this announcement, Name Change fees are as follows:

  • Basic: US $49.99.
  • Premium: US $34.99 (reduced from US $39.99).
  • Premium Plus: $14.99.

Basic members who are not familiar with Name Changes can find out more via the following links:

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.

Visiting the Sakura Linden Home regions in Second Life

Sakura Linden Homes – Shobu Community Centre, May 2022

On Monday, May 16th, just a month after their preview, Linden Lab released the Sakura Linden Homes theme for Premium subscribers. Thanks to the prior April preview, I’ve already offered something of an overview and thoughts on the house designs within Linden Homes: Asian theme in Second Life, so what follows is a very brief recap on them, followed by more of a look at the Sakura regions as a whole, and my thoughts on now having seen the regions.

Overall, the theme is offered with both 1024 sq m and 512 sq m parcels, with a total of 8 house designs split between 4 styles (each style having two versions, one with multiple rooms, the other with fewer rooms and something of a more open-plan feel). Some of the designs are specific to the 1024 sq m parcel size, but the smaller designs are available on both 1024 and 512 sq m parcels.

Sakura Linden Homes Theme with Mount Soji on the horizon

The houses are predominantly single-floor units, with only the Himawari / Haibisukasu (available on both 512 sq and 1024 sq m parcels) and the Kaneshon / Kuchinashi (available on 1024 sq m parcels only) having upper floors.

By default the outer walls of all the designs have been given stucco / plaster finish, and all have the typical steep tiled roofs we in the west identify with this style of house. The majority of doors are of the sliding variety, either fully glazed and set between glazed window panels, or for a degree of privacy between rooms, may be opaquely screened. I assume they include the same decorating options found in the more recent Linden home releases.

Sakura Linden Homes – Shobu Community Centre, May 2022

I confess that on first seeing the house designs, I couldn’t help be feel the variants with multiple rooms tended to feel as if their interior spaces were a little cramped and in places awkward. Some of the designs still leave me felling that way, but I confess to have changed my mind somewhat on others – the Shion, for example, with its central “courtyard” potentially offers a lot of opportunities for the imaginative interior designer.

The Sakura regions offer a mix of roads and waterways running through the regions, with the houses arranged in informal “blocks” between them such that the majority of properties either face onto either a road or waterway (and in some cases both), even if they don’t provide fully open access to due to a strip / belt of intervening protected land. The roads are similar in nature to those within the Newbrooke theme regions and cross the waterways using relatively low bridges (compared to some other bridge designs seen across Bellisseria), potentially limiting the waterways to smaller water vehicles – which as actually no bad thing; who really wants a honking great cruiser crowding its way inland?

Sakura Linden Homes, May 2022

As I noted with my preview piece, the waterways all have their own footpaths running alongside them, giving them something of a canal-like feel and offering the opportunity for waterside walks. Garden spaces both on land and on the water in places), ponds and copses help to break up the houses and provide a sense of space, while both roads and waterways have periodic rez zones for vehicles. A nice touch with some of the roads is that, rather than ending short of a waterway, they actually slope down into the water quite handy if you have an amphibious road vehicle or wish to drive your boat to the water on a trailer!

However, the most attractive parts of the Sakura theme come in the presence of Mount Soji and the Shobu community centre and surrounding gardens.

Sakura Linden Homes – Shobu Community Centre railway station, May 2022
Mount Soji, seen in most of the images here, is a four-region snow-capped peak that bears something of a resemblance to Mount Fuji. It’s defined as a park, but could perhaps do with a little more flora around its lower slopes (LI allowing) – which I hope will come, as it does make for an eye-catching backdrop, one that is quite unique among the Linden Homes regions.

Shobu, meanwhile, is perhaps the most attractive community centre yet provided for a Linden Homes theme – and I’m speaking as someone who really likes the Fantasy theme community centre. It presents a marvellous mix of gardens, waterways, footpaths (complete with Torii gates), places to sit, places to meditate, water gardens and features, trees, and its own railway station (although the tracks don’t, as yet, run very far).

Sakura Linden Homes, May 2022

Within all this, the community centre itself sits as a grand, modern take on a feudal palace of old, complete with its own waterway sitting within cloister-like covered walkways. Shoji-style lanterns light the large, airy rooms inside the centre whilst stairways within either wing of the centre provide access to two rooftop spaces.

Approachable by road or water (or, eventually, I assume, rail), it’s a superbly considered design; the surrounding gardens offering an engaging series of walks. And, having been built as a part of the initial development of the theme, it very much sits at the heart of it, rather than feeling a little pushed to one side, as has been the case with the community centres for some Linden Home themes.

Sakura Linden Homes – Shobu Community Centre, May 2022

Taken as a whole, the Sakura theme – allowing for the caveat on room sizes in some of the designs (which in fairness applies to some of the other themes, such as Newbrooke and Victorian, IMHO) – is one of the more visually engaging and attractive Linden Home environments, particularly with this initial release built around Mount Soji and the Shobu Community Centre. So much so, that I’m actually tempted to make the jump from Newbrooke!

SLurl Details