In March of this year, we announced improvements to our light use land product that we call Openspaces. Not long after this, the new Land Store opened allowing estate owners to buy Openspaces and have them delivered almost immediately, an enormous improvement over the old method of ordering them via support tickets. As a result we have seen tremendous demand for Openspaces – with many thousands of them being ordered. We’re delighted that so many of you have found them to be a useful addition to your estates.
Read on after the cut..
For those that don’t know, an Openspace is a type of private island that we made available for light use countryside or ocean. We figured that if Governor Linden can have ocean and green spaces, we should let private estate owners do the same. But Openspaces differ from normal regions in one particularly significant way; unlike normal regions that effectively get a CPU to themselves on the server, there can be up to four Openspaces on a single CPU (so 16 on a quad core machine), sharing the resource (hence them being ‘light use’).
So Openspaces have been incredibly popular as a perk for estate owners, but sadly there is a twist. Unfortunately most of the Openspaces are being used for much more than light use. Based on analysis performed in August and September, 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.
Rather than being employed as open areas like ocean with little or no content and traffic, the majority are being rented out to residents looking for a place to live. 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. So higher traffic to and from the servers along with heavier demands on the asset server, both of which impact the overall experience people have inworld.
We need to therefore take some steps to improve their performance and better reflect their actual usage levels in our pricing so that we can maintain the best performance level for everyone. As a result, we will be implementing a pricing change effective January 1st along with some policy changes effective immediately.
Beginning 1st January 2009
We will increase the monthly maintenance fee from USD$75 to USD$125 per month. This price increase will apply to all owners of Openspaces on January 1st as well as new purchases after that date. There will be no grandfathering of Openspace maintenance pricing.
For anyone owning class 4 Openspaces on January 1st, they will be upgraded to class 5 by end of January, to further improve the experience people have on those regions.
At the same time, we will be increasing the upfront fee for brand new Openspaces from USD$250 to USD$375.
We will no longer allow the Owner of an Openspace to be changed to a different resident than the Payor. Initially we will not enforce this change on Openspaces where the Payor and Owner are already different but in those cases the only change allowed will be to set the Owner back to the Payor. This doesn’t affect the parcel level rentals, this is just focussed on the whole region rental of Openspaces.
We will no longer offer an educational or non-profit discount for new Openspaces. As mentioned earlier, this is due to the increased back end resource required for us to support Openspaces in the way that they are now being used. For the small number of Educators that already have Openspaces, we will be contacting you directly to discuss this change.
Next, we will be making changes to the viewer that enable residents to know precisely what type of land or region they are on so that the land market remains as fair and easy to understand as possible. So expect to see changes that much more clearly display to residents whether they are on Linden Mainland or Private Estate, whether it is a Normal region or Openspace and what that means. This will affect various aspects of the Viewer including the inworld Search along with the About Land and Buy Land screens. Making Land easier to understand will benefit everyone, especially new users looking to step onto the property ladder for the first time.
Lastly we will begin to proactively discuss overloaded Openspaces with their owners. This is important because as with abuse of region resources, a heavily overloaded Openspace can adversely affect other Openspaces sharing the same machine which is clearly unfair to residents who are using them responsibly. We have listened to your feedback on this, and agree that we need to make changes to better support our Openspace users by actively working to keep the performance levels as high as possible. We will also provide some detailed guidance about what ‘overuse’ looks like and how to prevent it.
So to recap:
- Openspace prices and fees change on the 1st January with no grandfathering.
- Class 4 Openspaces will be upgraded to class 5 in January.
- Educator discount is no longer available for Openspaces.
- No Owner switching for Openspaces unless it’s a full transfer of Payor.
- More proactive education by support staff to prevent unfair resource use by Openspace regions.
We’re sure there will be many of you with questions and concerns on the back of this announcement. As previously, there will shortly be a forum created specifically for discussion of these changes so please head over here if you wish to provide feedback. In addition, if you need a more personal dialogue about this post, please contact support as usual.