Thursday, 21 March 2013


With the steady loss of Secondlife islands, Linden Lab must be in a little bit of a panic. Rod humble must be pulling his hair out right now. Even if they are still profitable, these continuous losses must be scary stuff. Every island is an important source of revenue for Linden Lab. It's surprising they don't love their island customers enough to want to try and keep them.

I have been an estate owner since late 2005 and I currently still have 38 sims spread out over a few avatar accounts and also still have some mainland, mostly for nostalgic reasons.

My holding still make a profit but not much profit, it's very narrow. The big land barrons and Linden  Lab's Atlas program or should we say market killing Land Cartel, are finishing me off. I'm losing the will to provide a good service to my renters so I am considering throwing in the towel and dropping the remaining 38 sims slowly over the rest of the year. I will do it slowly so as not to distress my loyal customers and friends. I have been supporting a number of little niches, mainly RP stuff.

But in my mind, if the niches die, Secondlife dies. It is dying. Sims are disappearing weekly. I'm saddened by this.

I personally think Secondlife is a pretty friggin awesome bit of kit. But we must face facts, people can't afford the tier costs to do anything fun anymore. People really do need their own sims.

Alot of my renters are big plot renter, 1/4 sim to full sims. RPers need lots of land but with the current tier costs the RP communities are being decimated.

With the current sim losses, perhaps Linden Lab should start thinking that every sim counts. Every sim does count now. Every sim is important. Every brave soul that pays these high tier costs should be considered by Linden Lab as gold, they are gold to Linden Lab, they are money in the bank. Do they realsie it ? I don't know. The lack of communication with the community and the way they act feels like they are totally disconnected from their user base.

Hey Linden Lab, people want your island product but you've price it so high they can't get it. In fact, converted, passionate, real customers are giving up their land every week. They are speaking to you through their actions.

Do Linden Lab care about their golden sim owning customers ?
In 8 years and hundreds of thousands of dollars spent in tier, do you know what ? I've never had an email from Linden Lab saying : You are a valuable customer, is there anything we can help you with ?

What happens to a company that doesn't care about it's customers ?
What happens to a company who doesn't speak to it's customers ?
What happens to a company that forgets who their real customers are ?

Every single sim owner should be considered an important source of revenue even if they only have 1  sim.

How long will Linden Lab survive with these relentless losses of islands and revenue ?
Doesn't look good to me

Word on the grapevine is that even top creators are feeling it too. Even successful sim owning creators are dropping sims.

I'm getting out of the land game. In fact Linden Lab killed the land game, killed the game mechanic when they introduced their Land Cartel, oops sorry, I mean Atlas program. Atlas, the Greek Titan is supposed to hold the world up on his shoulders, but in this case Atlas just killed the Secondlife land game mechanic. This is all very ironic since Linden Lab have been frantically trying to pull a new game out of the bag - Creatorverse, Patterns, Dio.  They all cost more to develop than they'll ever make in revenue.

I'm not saying all this to bash Linden Lab or to bash Secondlife. I'm saying it because I don't want Secondlife to die and all the signs point to serious decay. Maybe if Linden Lab started treating every sim owner as a golden goose maybe they could turn this around and stabilize the grid. But mark my words, if tier costs don't come down Secondlife will be no more.

Will Linden Lab be able to stop the losses and stabilize the grid and the SL economy ?

Thursday, 14 March 2013


The loss of Second Life island discounts for educational and non profit institutions was an unmitigated disaster for Second Life. EDU and non profit groups added much needed gravitas to the Second Life Grid. They gave Second  life a weight and a interest that doesn't exist without them. EDUs had a stabilising and energising effect on the whole ecosystem. Equally so for several non profit organisations. So it's good news to hear that Linden Lab are making 'customer win-back efforts'.
(Full story Here)

But unfortunately, even if they win back 200 EDU sims, which is unlikely, That would only represent the equivalent of approx one months losses at the current rate of decline. As Linden Lab is losing, on average 50 sims a week, 200 sims per month. These are very serious losses. Second Life and Linden Lab are not coasting, they are slowing bleeding to death. The sim bleed is so relentless that in less than 24 months Linden Lab could be operating at cost if they do not stabilise the grid and stop the bleed.

There are two meta-factors causing Second Life island ownership to decline. These two factors are so powerful that no other factor can be considered to be causing the losses until these meta-factors are addressed and the decline will continue

Factor 1 - Tier cost
Tier cost is so high it is actually driving customers away from a product they desire. There is no lack of people wanting to use Second life for thousands of myriad of projects. But there is a serious lack of people ready to spend $1000 USD set-up fee and $295 USD per month, every month.

Let's be really realistic. Tier costs are way too high, confirmed by people abandoning sims at a steady rate. This is not going to improve until tier costs are lowered dramatically - Fact

Factor 2 - The Land Cartel - Special Friends and Special Deals
When Linden Lab introduced the ATLAS Program (discounts for big land barons), they killed Second Life's most important game and game mechanic. They destroyed the land game and effectively created a Land Cartel. Combined with Linden Lab's Land Monopoly we're now facing market failure.

Monopolies and cartels are pernicious and corrosive in all businesses. There is loads of data to prove they cause market failure through stagnation. There is less choice for the customer, High barrier to entry, no new players can enter the market, no need for existing players to improve their product and service. Stagnation and market failure always follow.

Governments break up cartels and monopolies for exactly for this reason. There are very strict Anti-Competition laws in California where Linden Lab is based and in the real world the ATLAS Program and it's secret deals would clearly be in breach of those Anti-Competition laws. In fact since Second Life is an open platform it could be argued Linden Lab may actually be in breach of Californian Anti-Competition laws in this regard. The ATLAS program is basically unfair and kills competition.

No new players can enter the market, nobody can bootstrap themselves to success. Nobody is going to get a sim a try to monetise via creating a new land rental business. Everyone knows the land business is sewn up and the big fish are eating the little fish. No new players can compete with the discounts the big land barons get - So there are no new players - GAME OVER

We can infer from the above that Linden Lab's business model is now completely borked. The ATLAS Program/Land Cartel is killing the Second Life Grid by offering discounts only to a hand full of customers (Land Barons) instead of to the community at large. It's the community at large that deserves and needs the discount not the 'Land Baron Middle Men'

No wonder Linden Lab is losing islands and money every week. Without dramatic change to their business model and land pricing we should not be surprised if this loss of sims and revenue continues

Linden Lab's only option to stabilise the land market and stimulate growth is to break the land cartel and equalise land prices for all.

Tier cost should be low enough that Educational and Non Profits don't need a discount.
Tier cost should be low enough that everybody and anybody who wants to, can own their own sim. That's the real product Linden Lab should be selling - Sim Ownership for all.

For Second Life to be a free and fair world there should be no secret special deals with special friends. Restore the land game mechanic, break the land cartel - equal pricing for all, lower tier, drop purchase barriers like set-up fees, let anyone buy a Homestead and see sim ownership and the Second Life ecosystem boom.

Linden Lab stop playing favourites.
Make friends with your real customers, there's thousands of them, they love your virtual island product  they want one, but they can't afford one. They've been waiting a long time for you to do the right thing,

Friday, 28 September 2012


I'm a land baron and I don't need anyone's sympathy. What I need is lower tier so I can strengthen and grow my business and so that Secondlife can become stronger and more viable.

Secondlife does not exist for Desmond Shang's 'wealthy Rip Van Winkle' residents who log in 3 times a year and do not take part in the economy, community or social scene of Secondlife.

With an average of 100 sims being lost per week, if tier isn't lowered, there will be no land barons, no Rip Van Winkles, no Secondlife, no nothing.

Monday, 24 September 2012


High tier costs are poisoning Secondlife. What we are seeing now is a slow death, a stagnant ecosystem drained of life by excessive tier costs. There is a clear link between high tier costs, low concurrency, low user hours, lack of interest in Secondlife and a deep fatigue and depression amongst core users who want to use Secondlife for more than just chat.


High tier costs cause low concurrency and low user hours, which in turn depresses the SL economy and that in turn causes abandoned sims which in turn causes low concurrency and so on in a negative loop.

There are dozens of applications that Secondlife can NOT be used for at this time because of the high tier costs, people just can not afford it. Projects are NOT being started, projects are being abandoned.

There's no doubt about the link between super high land costs and the destruction of the Secondlife ecosystem. New sim types and new sim prices are needed yesterday.

The table above shows some possible new sim types and prices to help restore and re-energise Secondlife. There needs to be a more granular approach to SL land products to make the Secondlife product more accessible to all. 

Clearly the decline is not slowing up and we'll see greater land slides over the coming months. Linden Lab really needs to take action, these weekly sim lossess will soon represent millions of USD lost. The current 'Do Nothing' strategy is not working, it's not just risky, it's losing Linden Lab money week by week, it's positively Un American ! Don't they want to make more money ? Don't they want Secondlife to be a success ?  

Until tier costs come down  and new land products introduced, the ecosystem will continue to be poisoned and fatigued. How can Secondlife possibly survive under these conditions ? 

Tuesday, 18 September 2012


Following on from Hamlet Au's New World Notes Blog post - Don't Expect Linden Lab To Lower Tier Anytime Soon - Here's why we SHOULD expect Linden Lab to lower tier soon :
1. Because LL are losing money. Current tier costs are depressing customers and driving them away
2. Because lower tier would make happy, loyal customers, which equals even more money for LL
3. Because linden Lab WILL make truck loads of money by restructuring the land price model

Customer satisfying sim prices and products
Please Click Graphic Above To See Larger Image 

The above price model is based on 3 sim types :
1. Residential Sims
Appropriately priced, the future bulk of LL's revenue will come from residential sims.
Residential sims should really have new estate tools that includes a plot rental system. We need a built in rental system so all other commercial activity can be blocked with code. People can still give each other money on residential sims but they can not set up shops,vendors or set items for sale. This is viable and would dramatically energise the SL ecosystem

* It's very important to make a distinction between residential sims and commercial sims. Why should residential users pay for facilities they do not need

2. Commercial Sims
Commercial sims are specifically for creators and Secondlife merchants and allow full commercial activity - shops, vendors, events, games etc. the price reflecting this commercial aspect. The Lab could keep charging the current prices for these types of sims. Creators and merchants can monetise so they should pay a premium.

3. Special Sims
New mega sims - We really do need new mega type sims. There are all kinds of games e.g. racing games etc that need to be on mega sims with no glitchy border crossings. This kind of sim could be a dramatic and positive boost to attracting game developers and gamers. Also the role play communities would benefit from these larger sim types. the idea being, larger areas with reduced prim counts, so they can not compete with residential rental sims.

Event Sims
This is a special sim type that could be upgraded to when needed. Any important event, party, wedding, funeral, live music gig, fashion show, charity do, business meeting etc, that needs the best most reliable sims with the best performance possible, should have the option to PURCHASE/UPGRADE TO A SUPER SERVER FOR 24 HOURS. The fact that we do not have this option makes Secondlife unreliable and unprofessional. I've lost count of the events I've been to that have been disrupted by poor sim performance and sim crashes. It shouldn't be this way. In fact, it should be possible to upgrade any of the above sim types to an event sim. Event sims would be fully commercial and support 100 agents - everybody would rez and nobody would be grey.

Anybody can buy any sim type, no blockers to purchasing. The idea that the land market is being protected by forcing people to buy a full sim before you can buy a Homestead is incredibly idiotic. That time is past. The sim losses over the last couple years and months demonstrate the stupidity of this price model and structure

Blocking 99% of your customer in favour of protecting the profits of the 1% land baron class of user beggar's belief.

The needs of the few outweigh the needs of the many ? Really ? Isn't it supposed to be the other way around ?  The needs of the many should outweigh the needs of the few.

The Atlas program can be restructured and kept in place but the big land barons are going to have to work harder and actually do real estate development, and provide community features and services that make it worthwhile renting from them. Gone are the days of the cookie cutter slum sims delivered by some of the largest estates who get the best benefits for the least effort. These stale offerings are literally virtual slums and Secondlife would be 100 times better off without them.

If Linden Lab wants to keep the slum lord land barons in place, they should prepare for the end of Secondlife in the next 24 months, if they want to make more money and make Secondlife thrive they need to FREE THE LAND MARKET

The current land price structure is completely friggin borked. It's THE WAY TO KILL SECONDLIFE, doing nothing, keeping things as they are, it's actually the way to destroy the revenue stream and Linden Lab itself.

The new sims and pricing model above would positively transform LL's bank balance and restore the health of the system. The only reason LL can not project the numbers and see where the money is, is that they've lost confidence in Secondlife, their own product. They do not understand what they are selling. The executive team and investors do not use the product. They can not understand why anyone would bother using Secondlife because it's not interesting to them. So they don't believe there are any more customers than the existing userbase and foolishly believe that if they cut costs, they'll cut revenue because in their minds there are no more customers.

There are literally millions of potential customers, if we glance at the success of social games, for example, Yoville, Farmville, Minecraft, we're talking millions of players. 41 million (and counting) have registered for Minecraft and approx. 7.5 million have bought the game. The only reason Secondlife doesn't have a massive number of concurrent users and 100's of 1000's sims online is the price. Secondlife land is too expensive. Farmville at it's peak had something like 80million registered users and only recently has The Sims Social taken over from Farmville, with daily active users of approx. 9.3 million.

That's not a typo, The Sims Social has 9.3million active users per day and Secondlife can hardly push 60k peak concurrency per day.

The idea that Secondlife has had it's day is short sighted as it's still way ahead of any other social game on the planet. Secondlife has never been tested as a mass market product because it's never been priced correctly. Yes you can play for free but that not the product. Playing Secondlife for free without owning land is like playing Farmville without the farm.

Not enough choice. The car company BMW offer nearly 500 different versions of their product range. The 1 series alone has 100 different products - 25 different versions of the 3 door, 5 door, coupe and convertable and so on through their whole range. And these are actual physical products. Surely Linden Lab can offer more than 3 sim types and more than 3 price points for their customers.

Everybody should be able to afford their own sim, that's the real virtual world product. The sooner Linden Lab realise that's what their customers want and that's what they should be selling, maybe they can stop the rot. If they don't realise it and don't offer a more granular approach to their sim products Secondlife will die and Linden Lab will go out of business. By granular I don't mean renting tiny plots or skyboxes from land lords - that's yesterday, that's the problem, that's the slumification of Secondlife, IT'S A BIG TURNOFF.

Secondlife desperately needs affordable residential sims to compete. Otherwise Cloudparty, Open Sim, alternative grids and MMO's are going to wipe them out, it happening right now, it's time for change. Linden Lab can not, as a company, keep crouching in the corner of their ivory tower, rocking back and forward repeating the holy mantra -

'You can not buy a Homestead without a full sim'
'You can not buy a Homestead without a full sim'
'You can not buy a Homestead without a full sim'

Secondlife can thrive. Linden Lab can change. There's a great desire for virtual land, it's all about ownership and control. Human beings are territorial and expressive creatures and that's where the gold is for Linden Lab : Giving people sims they can afford, a place where they have full control, a place where they can express themselves - Their own sim !


Tuesday, 11 September 2012


Sad to report more than 1000 private sims lost in the last 11 weeks. The losses seem to be slowing up a little but what's more alarming is the lack of interest and the low number of new sims coming online since July 2012. See graph below
There does seem to be a deep lack of energy and interest in Secondlife, even within the core community. Obviously the situation is that we have all been worn down by excessively high tier costs.
Current tier costs are a crime against an emerging technology. If it cost 300USD per month for a web site, there would be no Internet as we know it. In reality Secondlife has not properly been tried or tested as a mass market product as it has never been priced for real growth and success. It's only a niche product because of the high price.
Linden Lab are losing more and more money by not lowering tier costs and not believing in their outstanding product.
The fact that Linden Lab has not changed their land offerings (sim types) or lowered their prices in several years is the reason why we are seeing such losses and such poor concurrency.
We all hope that Secondlife on Steam will have a positive effect on concurrency and sim ownership but it really is a lost opportunity. Without lowering tier costs and offering new sim products, marketing Secondlife to Steam users is kind of crazy, a massive business error and probably a potential loss of millions of dollars and thousands of new sim owners.
Even in this gloomy atmosphere there is still a very passionate user base, still putting on events, creating new content, supporting the grid and community in a thousand different ways. Just a little back up from Linden Lab in the form of new cheaper land products could easily provoke new growth, new money for LL and a much needed boost to the SL community and economy.
Come on Linden Lab , Help us to help you !
Drop set up fees
Let anybody buy any land product without a full sim
Introduce some new sim types
Reduce tier costs

Thursday, 30 August 2012


Secondlife will soon be available on steam and this will be one of Linden Lab's greatest fails.


Making Secondlife available on Steam is a great idea. But unfortunately, inviting Steam users to try Secondlife while tier costs are impossibly high makes no sense. Why invite millions of users who can't afford the Secondlife product - Land -  to come play.

What we're about to see is the most awesome churn over ever experienced by an MMO or virtual world. Apparently Secondlife already fails to retain 16 thousand users who try it per day. Why try to attract more customers to a platform that is so expensive and the current user base is so frustrated and alienated by the pricing that they are leaving in droves.

If Linden Lab thinks their current user base has been and is overbearing and critical, wait until the Steam community makes their feeling felt. Their used to gold standard games at discount prices.

Secondlife takes the power away from the user. Secondlife tier costs make the user feel powerless and poor. Tier costs are so high educators have left, role players are choosing alternative grids because they need lots of land, music venues are closing, inworld shops are empty and closing. Projects are closing, projects are not being started. All around we are seeing the decay of a unique platform.

It's really quite incredible to see an amazing technology like Secondlife, a trail blazing company like Linden Lab, fossilise in front of our very eyes. Their inability to change the one thing that would improve their bottom line, make their customers happy and invigorate their product, is the one thing they refuse to do - DROP SET-UP FEES and LOWER TIER COSTS

The build up of negative energy because of high tier costs is so great it's quite possible we'll see a mass abandonment of the platform. Right now customers are dropping private sims at a rate of approx. 100 sims per week

The sad truth is that even if Linden Lab convert some Steam users in to Secondlife TRY-OUT TOURISTS, as soon as the Steam users realise how much it costs to own land and really do the cool stuff, they'll walk too.

Recently Rod Humble said they had no problem getting people to try Secondlife for a while, it was getting people to stay that was the problem.

Well Rod, why do you think that is dude ?

Do ya think that maybe, just maybe, you might be pricing your product beyond the pockets of your user base ?

Why do you think you are not retaining customers ?
Why do you think nearly 100 sims are being abandoned every week ?
Why do you think converted, passionate users are abandoning the platform ?

Secondlife is dying. the price of land is killing it. churning over thousands of Steam users a day is not going to improve Linden Lab's bottom line. The Lab will keep losing sims and money until they lower tier costs.