Tuesday, March 19, 2013

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Second Life Mainland Ownership Stays Stable -- But Where Are All the Premium Account Land Owners?

Second Life mainland owners

Expert statistician Tyche Shepherd has a new report on the state of the Second Life mainland, the continent fully owned and controlled by Linden Lab, and I see at least two least key takeaways: Unlike private sims, which are rapidly going away, revenue from and ownership of mainland plots has stayed relatively stable. (Between 52,000-57,600 total unique plot owners from 2010 to now, a very small change.) That's the good news. The strange news (unless I'm misreading Ms. Shepherd's data) is this:

Where's all the Premium subscribers who should be owning land on the mainland?

Mainland land ownership is a major benefit to being a monthly Premium member, but far as we can tell, less, not more, Premium owners are claiming their property.

How do we know this? Well:

Back in 2009, Linden Lab's then-CEO told me they had about 75,000 Premium accounts. Now, in Tyche's report, she notes, "In total there are currently 42,733 Linden Home Plots [for Premium subscribers] which is also unchanged since last census. Of these 41264 are occupied,(96.7%)" Also, she adds, "48,133 landowners (71%) pay no tier above their Premium subscription." So it looks like there are either much less Premium subscribers than there were in 2009 (like over 30,000 less) [Update, 8:40pm: See Tyche's comment in below] and/or the Premium subscribers who do exist aren't using the land ownership benefit that comes with their subscription. (Is there another likely interpretation?) Whatever the case, it's definitely the case that mainland ownership is not growing.

Second Life premium ad

This is pretty striking to me. I know a lot of Premium subscribers mainly have an account so they can get its regular benefit allowance of Linden Dollars to spend. But Linden Lab has pushed mainland ownership as a major selling point to Premium. (See landing page above.) And for whatever reason, that offer is not finding more takers.

Hat tip: Ciaran Laval, who has analysis too.

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Amanda Dallin

I am Premium and have a mainland parcel too but do not have a Linden Home Plot. I'd rather use my free tier on a 512 on regular mainland that I can put up whatever I want than on a cookie cutter plot in Linden Lagville with restrictions.

Your analysis is flawed.

I also have a private sim.

Tyche Shepherd

You are misreading my data

There are 55,646 unique premium account holders who own mainland parcels in their own name , along with 11,759 unique landholding groups. This includes the 41,264 who have taken up a Linden Home. The figure of 55,646 is the bare minimum number of premium accounts

Back in when the Lab did still report the size of the weekly Premium stipend sink it was possible to estimate the total number of premium accounts, which was approximately in line with the sum of unique individual mainland owners and the number of unique group mainland owners. Assuming this relationship still stands a better estimate of the current number of Premium Accounts is around 67,500 as shown in my chart above, about 11,500 less than the 2009 figure

Tyche Shepherd

Correction: That is 7,500 less that the 2009 figure , not 11,500

Hamlet Au

Thanks much, Tyche, I was afraid I might have been misreading that part. Correcting...

Pussycat Catnap

Most premium account holders do -NOT- have a linden home.

You don't get that linden home for free, you get it -instead- of 512m of land. Linden Homes are also pretty new. Unless older accounts chose to give up their land to get the linden home, they might not have one.

The only benefit to having a linden home is you get a prebuilt unmoddable house for 0 prims. But its design will look severely dated... and its sizing is often very inconvenient.

And a top notch extremely high detail mesh home can be had for about 30-40 prims if you know where to shop and know to scale it down (most mesh lowers in prim cost when scaled down). A home of the quality of the linden homes... about 10-20 prims.

So the benefit to having a Linden Home is really very small. Its really the convenience buy. The "I don't want to be troubled with setting up my own, I'll just get this gimped one."

- Not everybody goes for the trailer park model, especially when the Park Avenue one costs about 50-cents more... (mainland really is super cheap these days).

val kendal

exactly as Pussycat says, who wants a Linden Home when you've been in SL 6 years?

Wolf Baginski

When you take into account the Stipend, a Premium Resident is worth USD 2.70 to Linden Labs, and that's if they pay monthly.

Mike Warner

So can we conclude from this that LindenLabs isn't profitable? What other sources of revenue do they have? I'm curious how they are doing (hope well!) and I look around occasionally for evidence... any pointers beyond this?

Adeon Writer

I think a large potion of Linden's profits come from marketplace commissions.

Anyway, I'm premium, and I own 2816 sqm of Mainland. It's very expensive, and I don't need that much land - I only have do much because buying more land is the only way to get more prims - large parts of my land are and will always be empty, I only own it to use more prims elsewhere.

I have a feeling this is why mainland looks very empty. People pay for prims, not land. Sadly Linden pegs one to the other.

Grizzla

I have a premium account because I manage a sim as part of my RL job. About a month ago, I decided to try out the "free Linden home" I had never bothered about.

Boring options, houses plunked down in a disorganized arrangement all over the sim, and horrible horrible lag even though there have only been one or two other avatars on the sim when I have visited.

I would definitely not recommend someone paying for a premium account if their purpose is to get the "free" home.

Eddi Haskell

What amazes me is how apathetic I have become to discussions like this. 6 years ago when I just joined my attitude was "I love LL, the two sims I own will make me a Second Life millionaire". Three years ago when my holding were pared down to 1/4 of a sim and my attitude was "we power users need to figure out a way to encourage LL to get out of stagnation". Now my attitude is "who gives a damn, nothing is going to change anyway" (I own 1/32 of a sim and rent a plot somewhere). Have any other of you simply given up on discussions like this?

Metacam Oh

Yep Eddie, there is nothing left to discuss really. Have gotten rid of all my land holdings, log into SL rarely if at all, and don't plan on coming back. These discussions have been going on for years and fall on deaf ears.

Iggy

@Eddi, you nail a certain trajectory of the "world" we have inhabited. I suspect many premiums keep a little 512 around, if that, today.

Instead of trying to become millionaires, we would have done better to chill with the open-source hobos at the Caletta hobo jungle.

I gave up thinking SL would change the world when we lost our edu-island to the Lab's bungled mid-year tier increase of 2010. I compare that to what I wrote in 2008. I'll quote from an early post, just after I first moved my pro-bono blog from a Media-General daily newspaper to Blogspot:

"3D virtual worlds will one day be as common a part of our Internet usage as Web browsers are today. We pioneers in these strange lands need to set the tone for the masses who will join us on this side of the screen. "

What a sap. Where are those "masses"?

The paper I noted is staggering along, having fired many of its staff, including the editor who had an interest in a blog about SL.

Today, I don't need a Linden "home" in a virtual "world" that with each passing month is becoming less a world and more a collection of landmarks.

I retained my glass-sided office from the campus island on my little 512, in case a student uses SL for some project (never required in my classes any longer). It gives them a safe place as a home setting for an emergency TP or costume change.

Archangel Mortenwold

Two major factors preventing higher mainland rental:

1.) Fewer estate rights than are enjoyed by private estate owners — you can't even restart a mainland region on your own; you have to ask Linden Lab to do it for you. Compare this to the private islands. If you need to restart it, you can do it yourself without having to ask and wait for Linden lab to do it for you. If you want to rework the landscape to accommodate your mountain castle or valley cottage, you can. You either can't do any of this on a mainland region.

2.) Extreme lag brought about by the combination of script overuse, prim allotments being maxed out, and having each region surrounded by eight other regions. If you don't think that last part is a major problem, just ask anyone who's ever attended a major SL event where four or six regions are placed up directly against one another. The extreme lag that comes with such an arrangement often causes crashes, including region crashes.

If Linden lab wants premium members to rent mainland regions, then they have to offer more than what we're currently getting, and what we're getting now isn't very much.

Ciaran Laval

@Adeon marketplace commission is not income for Linden Lab, they can't bank it, it's a means to income, but unlike tier, which is direct income, marketplace comission requires other shoes to drop, it's the same as inworld & marketplace classifieds and inworld show in search fees, they will all generate income in some form, but it's indirect and far harder to quantify than tier or even premium memberships.

2013

Maybe people just don't want to own entire sim? Maybe they are happy renting a small plot of land they can put a small house and trees. It's a lot of work setting up, and making a entire sim look nice, and very costly if you want it to not look like 2006.

Land ownership is not a selling point for me and many of my friends to justify a premium membership.

Wolf Baginski

I came across an educational user a few hours ago. Some sort of Fine Arts course, been given a vague assignment sometime Tuesday, and a very close deadline, maybe a couple of working days. If I figure right, the deadline has already passed.

It sounds as though the teacher was damnably ignorant of SL. By the time I encountered the student, time was running out, but there were still new-user issues apparent.

It seems to sum up a lot of the general problems, such as confusing impressions of what SL is, the horribly steep learning curve, and the potentials for abuse of newcomers coming from the apparent failures to police the Grid.

This particular student at least had found one of the better places, and it is somewhere that is nothing at all to do with the Lindens.

While the conversation was going on, another newcomer was plaintively asking why they were a Panda, and what they could do about, and a miniature A-10 was bouncing around.

So was a bear in a stetson, quoting Wittgenstein. SL can be strange.

Wolf Baginski

@Ciaran

Marketplace Commission, and other fees paid in L$, are tricky to quantify for us on the outside, but the actual US dollar value to Linden Labs is pretty solid.

People buy those L$ using real money, whether explicitly bought or as the stipend from a Premium account. It's not very different from buying an Amazon gift voucher, and using it to pay for later cheap ebooks. Not the exactly the same, I don't see any way of converting a credit with Amazon into USD in your pocket. And all that convoluted wording about L$ not really being money might have an effect.

And they don't tell us anything that allows anyone to make a good estimate.

If they don't have the figures, if they don't keep track of the L$ handed out as Stipend or taken in as fees, and just record the conversions to and from "real" currency, I'm not sure they can really know what is happening.

Arcadia Codesmith

One of these days, when I'm feeling ambitious, I'm going to see how small you can shrink a mesh humanoid avatar. There should be an optimal degree of tininess, dollhouse architecture and creative camera adjustment that makes 512 sq m a reasonable living space.

LL could clear up a number of problems by offering much larger spaces much more cheaply with the advantage/limitation that they're instanced -- they don't persist unless somebody is using the property.

At current space rates, the optimal solution is an avatar that sees colossal caves in an ant farm.

Winter Jefferson

Between this av and my previous one I've been in SL for 7 years now. I love my Japanese style Linden Home, and use that as a bolthole when I don't want to be bothered on the 1/4 sim parcel I rent with my girl. I don't find it laggy at all, and I genuinely like the way they are decorated.

Yes I'm giving up my individuality by keeping state housing rather than setting myself up on a mainland 512 with a great new mesh house, but do you know why I do? Mainland is HIDEOUS. Find me a 512 parcel that isn't surrounded by those huge rotating signs, zyngo parlours, circa 2009 Doomcastles and gardens with those cheerily waving flexicock borders... and then I'll reconsider.

Also - if you've never had a look in the water that runs through the Linden Home sims? Then do that when you get a chance. Have a ride on one of the manta rays and mer up for some Zissou style fun.

Ajax Manatiso

I've been in SL for 6 years now, don't have one of those crapulent Linden Homes, do have an entire mainland sim, and my rentals are always near full occupancy if not entirely rented out. I've given up on the Marketplace but still having fun in my sim. My events often fill the sim to capacity and we are having lots of fun here with lots of regulars -- soooo -- don't know what you're talking about.

Ciaran Laval

@Wolf I doubt if they will be recording anything other than the money they make on Lindex sales commissions and any Linden Dollars they sell directly, other than that, there's no need to account for them.

Taking money out of the world via Marketplace commission does have the potential to allow Linden Lab to sell Linden Dollars directly, which would be real income for them, but historically, when Supply Linden sales figures were included in the stats, they weren't a patch on tier revenue and just before LL stopped publising those stats, Supply Linden sales were zero.

Virtual Clover

Want to know where they are?

Beyond the garden wall. When you find places such as Kitely, who offers 20 full size regions with 100k prim allotments for $35, zero lag, superb customer service, rights to download and transfer your content and keep what you pay for, where do you think they are?

I find it truly sad (and sometimes comical) how many die hard SL loyalists there are still banging away on their ghost lands, doing the rubberband walk, watching inventory evaporate, dealing with constant lag, spammers, griefers, and LL's closed eyes useless policies, and whining and ranting and harping...only to be ignored, shunned, ridiculed, and disregarded while LL takes their money...and can't seem to figure out that power users, creative users, social users have seen life beyond where all those very things you demand LL gets done are being done in spades.

SL is a sinking ship and LL couldn't care less about any of you. They'll take your money and rarely make it worth the cost of your VW addiction.

Try Kitely - you will not find a better deal.

Anywhere.

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