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.

SL19B MTL – Patch Linden: Premium Plus and more + video

via Linden Lab
Monday, June 20th, 2022 saw the first in the SL19B Meet the Lindens events, this one featuring Patch Linden, the Lab’s Vice President of Product Operations.

The following is a summary of the session covering the core topics raised, with selected audio extracts. The full video is located at the end of this article.

Note that this 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.

Table of Contents

The TL;DR Summary

  • Premium Plus:
    • Launches June 23rd, 2022.
    • Offers a new subscription package for users, with benefits over and above those of Premium membership.
    • Priced at US $29.99 per month (or an introductory US $24.99, available for the first 30 days after launch) or US $249 annually.
    • Existing Premium members may / will receive some form of pro-rata upgrade path.
    • Does not replace either Free accounts or Premium subscriptions, but exists alongside them.
  • Event Regions: will now be priced at US $599 a month, with no set-up fee.
  • Linden Homes: further new themes; re-visits to existing themes to update them; new large-scale community centres; first Premium Plus theme possibly towards the end of 2022; retirement of old Linden Homes regions to be revisited with a view to starting that process.
  • General Discussion:  a series of questions, arranged by topic and with short answers: most significant changes to SL; the overall effect of the COVID-19 situation on SL use; SL and the metaverse; improvements to Mainland.

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About Patch Linden

  • Originally a Second Life resident and business owner who joined the platform in 2004, and became a Linden in September 2007.
  • Initially worked as a support agent and then as a support liaison. From there he moved to the Concierge team, eventually becoming that team’s manager.
  • Shifted focus to the role of Operations Support Manager for a year, then moved to the Product group, the team responsible for defining the features, etc., found within Second Life.
  • At Product he developed the Land Operations team, which includes the Linden Department of Public Works (LDPW).
  • In 2018, he established the company’s support office in Atlanta, Georgia, and in 2020 he oversaw the move to larger office space in Atlanta, interrupted by the COVID-19 pandemic.
  • In 2019 he was promoted to Vice President, Product Operations, and joined the Lab’s management team alongside Grumpity and former VP of Engineering Oz Linden (see: Linden Lab’s management team expands: congrats to Grumpity, Patch and Oz).
  • Together with Grumpity and (now Mojo Linden and Brett Linden(, he forms the leadership team overseeing Second Life’s continued development.
  • In his management team role, Patch continues to oversee all of the Lab’s user support operations (some 5 teams), including the LDPW.
  • Despite his longevity at the Lab, his is not the longest-serving Linden, nor is he the “oldest” resident-turned-Linden.
  • Sees the most significant changes to SL during his time being: the arrival of voice (2007), Mesh (2010), Pathfinding (2011), Experience Keys (initially 2015, fully in 2019/2020), Bento  (2016/17), Animesh (2018/19) and EEP (2018/19), and Bakes on Mesh (2019).

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Premium Plus

[Video: 22:49-41:23]

Outline

  • Premium Plus is a new subscription package that has been in development for some 18 months. As the name suggests, it offers additional / increased benefits in comparison to the Premium membership package.
  • It is in addition to, not a replacement of, Premium membership, which will continue, as will the free Basic account.
  • Full details of the Premium Plus offering will be presented in a forthcoming official blog post. The following is a summary of the specifics mentioned by Patch.

Benefits “Above” Premium – In Brief

  • Sign-up bonus and stipend:
    • The sign-up bonus for Premium Plus will be L$3,000
    • The weekly stipend will be L$650.
  • Land: 2048 sq m of “free tier”.
    • This can be split between Mainland parcels and a Linden Home, as per Premium.
  • Linden Homes:
    • Still only one Linden Home per account
    • 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).
      • Any existing Linden Home must be abandoned first.
      • Such requests will generally be filled in 24 hours, but only if the requested parcel does move into the automatic Linden Home assignment system in the interim.
    • Future Linden Home options for Premium Plus:
      • Homes specifically designed for 2048 sq m parcels.
      • Premium Plus Linden Home parcels may be given the ability to have house styles from the 512/1024 sq m Premium themes, allowing those who want more land with their Linden Home to have it.
    • [Video 51:23-51:42] The first Premium Plus Linden Homes theme might be released towards the end of 2022.
  • Upgraded capabilities:
    • Group count doubles over Premium to 140.
    • Off-line message cap doubles of Premium to 160.
    • Animesh attachments will apparently increase (Patch said from 1 to 2, but Premium members already get 2 Animesh attachments, so it is unclear if Patch was just referencing Premium Plus with Basic accounts here).
    • Premium Plus members will be able to create two land Experiences (rather than just one, as per Premium).
  • Fees:
    • No upload fees for textures, animations, sounds.
    • No fees for event listings.
    • Mesh / Animesh upload fees will change for Premium Plus will be adjusted in the future.
    • Group creation fee reduced to L$10
  • Special support ‘phone line, with a toll-free 800 number, with international users able to use this via the likes of Skype without incurring international call fees.
  • Premium Plus sandbox access.
  • Premium Plus gifts.
  • [Video: 1:09:12-1:09:21] Potential for early access to Lab-run events (e.g. Shop and Hop events).

Premium Plus Fees

  • Monthly: US $29.99 (or $24.99 for the first month, if taken out in the first 30 days after launch).
  • Annually: US $249 (equiv. to US $20.75 a month).

Launch date

  • Thursday, June 23rd, 2022.

Premium Plus Audience Questions

  • [Video: 47:10-48:51] Will Premium Plus subscribers be able to choose their own Last Name, rather than picking from a list?
    • No, thei system isn’t set-up for totally free-form names. But the ability to change your last name for less than the current $49.99 fee is a potential “future add-on” for Premium Plus.
  • [Video: 57:30-58:25] Will those already grandfathered on the L$500 a week stipend, will this be factored into Premium Plus (so their stipend would be L$850 per week)? If they later downgrade back to Premium, will they regain their grandfathered stipend of L$500, rather than dropping to L$300?
    • Needs to be clarified, possibly in the official blog post for Premium Plus, when this is published.
  • [Video: 1:07:17-1:08:12] Could renting a Homestead region from LL be de-coupled from having to own a Full region as well, for Premium Plus?
    • Probably not, given the doubling of land tier already provided in the Premium Plus package, and the fact the breaking the lock between Homestead and Full regions could have widespread economic implications for existing estates.
  • [Video: 1:12:58-1:13:36] Will there be a pro-rata upgrade path for those on Premium to move to Premium Plus?
    • Yes, but does not have specifics [presumably within the official blog post, when published].

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Event Regions

[Video: 12:45-21:03]

  • LL started tinkering with the idea of flexing the capabilities available through AWS to try to develop a product reflective of those capabilities.
  • The move to provide such a product was born out of a belief that for large-scale events in SL, concurrency matters.
  • In testing, the Lab managed to get a shopping event region running reasonably well with up to 231 avatars (providing users dialled-down some viewer graphics options – DD, complexity, etc., dialled down).
  • Event regions tend to run best in a “standalone” mode, rather than connected to other regions (particularly other event regions), largely due to issues around avatars and child agents¹ on multiple regions. This is why there were issues during the SL19B opening ceremony, as the avatar (175 per region) was set too high for adjoining regions .
  • The “introductory” tier of $599 per month and no set-up fee (which had been due to end on June 6th) will now be the de facto fee for Event regions.
  • Event regions are open to land owners / estate to rent from LL, should they also wish to hire them out to those organising events.

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Linden Homes

[Video: 49:15-57:18]

  • LL “constantly looking” at ways to improve Linden Homes; this work includes additional house styles within the existing themes.
    • The original Traditional Homes will be seeing “a slate” of improvements.
  • New “grand scale” community centres to match those of the more recent themes (such as Sakura and Fantasy) or those like Campwich Lodge (Log Theme), etc., are being developed for the earlier Linden Home theme environments.
Sakura Linden Homes – Shobu Community Centre, May 2022. More such centres are likely to be coming to Linden Home environments
  • Further new Themes will continue to be deployed, which the next release for 2022 possibly being Premium Plus homes.
    • The idea of having “Premium Plus neighbourhoods” mixed in with Premium Linden Homes has been toyed with, but nothing has been decided either way.
  • Thus far, the most popular themes (in terms of lack of availability due to occupancy) appear to be Traditional Homes, Houseboats and Stilt Homes, following by Log Homes.
  • In terms of increased capabilities / options, the Fantasy theme homes are probably the most popular, followed by Sakura.
  • It is likely that the plan to “wind down” the original Linden Homes and their mini-continents will be looked at again in the near future .
    • This will not simply be a “turning off” of the regions, leaving those still living among them homeless, but will be handled with care and methodically.
    • Some instances of the older home may be preserved in some way, such as under the SLRPS banner, particular those elements that have a story behind them [e.g. Cape Ekim and the mystery of Professor Linden].

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General Discussion

  • Personal list of most significant changes in Second Life [Video 1:46-4:07]:
    • The 2007 implementation of Windlight + the arrival of voice.
    • The addition of Sculpties, and then mesh import (2010).
    • Pathfinding (2012).
    • Bakes on Mesh (2019).
    • The move to AWS (2019-2021).
    • Feels that SL is still at the forefront of what is being called “the metaverse”.
  • Last two years – COVID and user influx [Video 5:51-7:39]:
    • SL is still “well above” pre-pandemic levels, from economic activity (land, MP, on-world purchases, etc).
    • The sharp uptake in SL has slowed, but there has been no significant falling away of engagement.
  • SL and the “metaverse” [Video: 7:44-9:35]:
    • Believes that all of the interest in “the Metaverse” is good for Second Life.
    • Believes all the virtual worlds will have to work together – at some point in the future – to allow a degree of interoperability if “the metaverse” is to achieve its goals.
  • Mainland [Video: 41:37-45:36]:
    • LL is aware there is a lot of abandoned land on Mainland that could be made available / be improved with new landscaping.
    • However, there are no plans at present to add further mainland coastline to those continents that might otherwise be able to take it, because so much in the way of parcels inland remain available. This include the Zindra Adult continent.
    • The pricing of current coastline areas of Mainland are subject to the same laws of supply and demand as the rest of the Mainland (unless price gauging can be demonstrated).

Q&A Session

[Video: 58:47-end]

A range of general questions, some related to Premium Plus (and which have been listed above), the majority on more general topics. Please refer to the video for these.

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Footnotes

  1. Simply put, a Child Agent refers to a secondary agent (avatar) presence associated with your own, then can exist in regions physically adjoining to the one you are currently in, allowing you to “see” into a connected regions (and have it render in your viewer).

Child agents are not physically rendered avatars but a simulator resource, as such they can directly influence region performance.

Session Video