Friday, November 14, 2008

Too Good To Be True

Amazing how things can change in only two months, isn't it?

Some changes have been welcome: As Tech and I have built our island, we've grown closer. We love our home and enjoy doing things there together. Island Girl has gone on indefinite walkabout, which has been a bit of a paradigm shift; it also saves our typist money, since IG isn't logging in and shopping for new clothes anymore.

Our typist has completed her fall travels and can now settle in and look for a RL job. While it's a lousy time to be looking for work due to both the season and the condition of the economy, we're optimistic that something will work out.

After all my excitement over the new island, though, it pains me to write about Linden Lab's recent decisions regarding Open Space sims. In case you haven't been following the hoopla, LL made an announcement at the end of October that Open Space sims are not being used as they had intended, and that a 67% increase in tier payments will take effect in January. As I'm sure LL expected, there was a huge hue and cry in response to this, and they have since "revised" the plan by splitting the Open Space sim category into two levels: The current allotment of space and prims will be called a "Homestead" sim, and will increase in tier price in two stages, rising from $75/month to $95/month in January, and then to $125/month in July (still a 67% increase). The lower level will still be called Open Space and will remain at $75/month, but will be restricted to 750 prims.

All over the blogosphere, you can find articles, comments, and forum threads detailing what a scandalous bait and switch this is. Until this spring, Open Space sims had to be bought in groups of 4, had to abut the buyer's full sims, and were only allowed 1875 prims. In April, LL announced that OS sims could be placed anywhere on the grid, could be purchased singly (although owning a full sim was still a requirement), and prims were doubled to 3750. Of course, that paved the way for a huge expansion of Open Space sims.

Now Linden Lab claims that the users of those sims are using them for unintended purposes, not just as open water and parkland, but as homes and clubs and stores, causing performance problems. Gee, that's funny; you'd think LL might have been able to anticipate that before they increased the prim limits (and never did place any limits on scripts and avatars very different from those of a full sim). Their solution is to raise prices significantly rather than to look for a technological solution to a technological problem.

Of course, by making their first announcement, and then responding to the bad PR by "revising" the plan, they make themselves look responsive to the customer base. No matter that they're ultimately still raising the tier 67%.

But all that leaves me (and Tech) in an awkward position. We had carefully evaluated costs and benefits before we set up our island, and made our decision based on those analyses. We might be able to afford to keep the island (depending on Tech's comfort level with the price increase, and on my typist getting a job). But there's something that sticks in my craw when I think of rolling over and paying the increased price; it seems like rewarding bad customer service.

I don't anticipate leaving SL; but cutting way back on how much money I'm willing to give them is certainly an option. Just because they're a virtual monopoly doesn't mean I need to support them at any more than the lowest level necessary to meet my SL goals. This isn't a final decision by any means; I have about a month to discuss it with Tech before we have to make a decision.