While the trademark policy was angering many Second Life residents in March 2008, another policy change was making many others very happy. Linden Lab began offering OpenSpace regions to estate owners at $75 per month, which was about a quarter of the price of standard private islands. The light-use sims supported 3,750 prims instead of the standard 15,000, with about one quarter of the processing capability.
The program was phenomenally successful. Perhaps too successful. By October, it was estimated that 50%-60% of all regions were Openspace sims. Instead of increasing revenue by allowing estate owners to add a few light-weight sims for oceans and forests, savvy owners were using them in creative ways to replace standard regions. It's likely that financial projections of this unintended consequence portrayed a drastic, possibly life-threatening decline in revenue for Linden Lab. So in October 2008, Linden Lab announced a 66% increase in Openspace pricing.
The trademark policy had only minor financial impact on a handful of Second Life residents. The Openspace price increase would cost the community hundreds of thousands of dollars per year. Not surprisingly, the community was outraged.
Instead of admitting that they made a mistake and couldn't afford to lose so much revenue, Linden Lab blamed the community:
Openspaces are being used about twice as much as we expected, in other words being loaded with double the content/avatar load than we’d expect for a region that is supposed to be light use. Because they were never intended for that level of load this is causing problems. For some people this has meant a less than great experience with performance fluctuations. The overuse of Openspaces has also put additional strain on some of our network and database infrastructure at a much higher ratio than is reflected in the current pricing.‘While the trademark policy strained the relationship between Linden Lab and Second Life residents, the Openspace fiasco blew it to smithereens. Although resident furor eventually led to Linden Lab offering an extremely limited version (750 prims, 10 avatar limit) of the $75 per month Openspace region, most owners ended up either abandoning their Openspace regions, paying the higher rate for the newly named Homestead sims, or converting them into standard private islands.
So if Hamlet's contention is correct and Second Life's survival is threatened by the community's hate and fear of change, this is another clear reason we have good reason to be cautious. What positive changes have occurred in the last three years to offset even this one calamitous change? And I've only covered 2008. The story will continue in an upcoming post. Stay tuned.