I’ve been subscribed to SL with a premium membership on and off over the time I’ve had an account here. I made my avatar back in 2004. The most recent subscription streak for me has been since I returned in March 2018.
But that may be coming to an end this summer.
What happened two years ago that brought me back to SL? They doubled the amount of land tier afforded to premium members. Since the major aspect I love about SL is owning land and decorating it, this was a huge draw that pulled me back to sub instantly.
I picked up my first parcel in a rather historical area of SL in Gandymede. Then, when my next door neighbor sold the lot right next to mine, I picked up a second lot, for twice the amount of land. You can see that pictured in the header.
Now, to own double the land meant that I paid my sub and some cash monthly on top of it. But at the time, I was paying $7.50 a month (with a quarterly sub), and grandfathered into a good weekly stipend of L$. In fact, I almost broke even on my sub from the stipend alone should I have cashed out the L$ for money — something that was the case for many, many years.
I then discovered Bento avatars and eventually Water Horse rideables. There was a fun community of folks surrounding the Water Horse product, and I learned how to make coats and accessories for the horses and unicorns. I set up a shop in the mall, and started to do fairly well at moving product.
I was pretty happy with my land setup and a creative outlet that would more than support what I wanted to do in game.
Second Life Price Hike
Last year, SL dropped the bomb on premium members that there would be a substantial price hike. They tried to pad it by saying they added more value to the sub through more groups and IMs and whatever.
I’m not a super social person in SL — as I said, land owning and creative things are my draw there. So I don’t care about the number of groups I’m in or how many IMs get capped (others might care, of course).
My quarterly sub just jumped up $10. That means that SL would cost me $40 more a year. Plus, they’re trying to phase out the quarterly sub on top of it. Monthly and yearly alone really aren’t good options.
But to further soften this blow, they allowed current members to lock in the old pricing for one more renewal. I opted to lock in a year at $72. But come July, I’m going to get hit up for $99 if I choose to sub again.
The first thing I did when I saw the price hike last year was sell half my land. Since they were going to hit me up for an unexpected $72 dollars for a yearly sub (I never sub yearly to anything), I opted to drop the extra land fee. This was about $7 a month on top of the sub — so that almost came out even.
I was lucky that my neighbor bought the plot up really quickly. Sometimes when selling mainland, you can sit there and wait and wait and wait for months before someone buys. The only other option is to abandon it — you get no L$ because you didn’t sell, and then the land goes into this limbo of being owned by the Lindens until it gets parceled back out to use again.
I am waiting to see if LL will do anything to make a price increased sub worth it to me this year. So far, they haven’t. It’s February, and I have until July. However, as I noted before, selling land can take a long time to come to fruition. So, in preparation for going free to play, I sadly put the last of my land up for sale last week.
My plot cleared and up for sale:
I’m going to miss the good times we had there, but really, we haven’t been using it all that much the past year or so.
Luckily, my neighbor again snatched it up within a few days of putting it up for sale. She’s now got it rebuilt into a nice forest path. So I’m glad my plot will be enjoyable to someone else.
Cashing Out for Free to Play
The second thing I did, after putting my land up for sale, was cash out a significant amount of L$ I had in my account. This turned out to be $453 worth… which they took a chunk out of in fees (oh yeah, they also upped transfer processing fees during this price hike).
So in the end, my PayPal got a nice $428 credit after all of the products I’ve sold and monthly stipends have built up over the last two years. I think that mostly pays for what the sub cost was… maybe even a bit of a profit (though that was never my intent).
The Future of SL for Me
I still rent out a shop at the Water Horse mall, which is a fairly reasonable weekly cost. As long as I continue to sell products that cover the cost of my rent there, I will continue to sell there. I’m not sure how long that will be.
After the redesign of the mall last year, traffic has significantly dwindled. I don’t know what all happened, but it seemed to be some kind of upset in the community… I just know there’s hardly anyone there when I visit, and there’s more shops vacant than in use now days. However, I’ve still been earning enough from shoppers to make it worth my rent there. So I will stay.
I still want a place to put down a house and sell a few kittens. So I did some searching and found a nice land rental platform at a place called Fernynook. The cost vs. the prims is acceptable. While I haven’t fully decorated just yet, I have put a house down, along with my virtual cats.
Since I still have a few months left to my sub in which I have a land allotment, I decided I might as well use it. One thing I’ve wanted to look into, but haven’t had a chance to until now, are the new Linden homes.
These made a pretty big splash last year, especially since the supply didn’t meet the demand for these houses. They’re quite nice, fairly customizable, the land around has been nicely formed, and most of all, there’s a strict HOA type set of rules of what you can and cannot do with it. So no gaudy flashy floating prims all over the place allowed.
But also no shops or commerce — which is why I needed a rental somewhere else to sell my kitties.
These houses are pretty hard to get your hands on. You have to stalk the Linden Homes page and refresh, hoping that someone who currently owns a house will release it.
Well, I lucked out. Not even half an hour after I realized my land had sold, I managed to snag a new Linden Home. I haven’t fully explored the area yet — it’s on a corner lot right across the street from a forest campground that I’d like to ride through one day.
I’ve done a little bit of decorating with it, and I’m happy with the location and how the neighborhood looks. But I’ll be honest — I was hyped about these houses last summer. Now that I have one, I’m going to be very seriously weighing whether my sub is going to be worth this house… as it’s the only thing I will lose when I go free to play.
Right now, as nice as the house is, it’s just not going to be enough. I can release the house with no pain on my part since it’s not like land that you have to buy and sell — Linden Homes are free to your account as long as you have the land allotment to use on them. If I ever wanted to sub again, I can just pick up another house after I hunt one down.
I’m really sad that it’s come to this, to be honest. I know there are hard working people in SL, like the Moles who are diligent in bringing out new Linden Homes. I know that they’ve continued to try to improve SL with things like bakes on mesh and animesh releases.
But for a rather aged and often laggy system, I’m having a hard time justifying a $30-$40 price hike each year. Especially given that I pay a sub for FFXIV, and that’s not going anywhere. On top of things like Netflix, etc…
Now, if they surprise my by July with something that absolutely delights me, I might still reconsider. But as of this time, I’m on a track to drop my sub come this summer, and just keep my shop and rental platform with the L$ that I still have stowed away from selling my land. That will keep me doing well enough for quite a while.