Wednesday, October 29, 2008

In The Interest Of The Correct Expression Of Outrage

Price increases are inevitable these days, and with the magical printing of 700 billion dollars inflation is about to become even more painfully apparent. This is not the main thrust of this post. Instead, I address the recent Openspace sim price increase. It is my hope that amidst the panic and screeches of outrage I may point out the genuine smelly bits so that amidst much misinformation we may be outraged correctly.

What we have here is a case of very bad form on the part of Linden Research. The price increase is draconian, yes, but the ugly and morally repugnant part was the portion of the deal that was altered effective immediately. This is in disallowing the trade in Openspace regions.

Picture, if you will, you bought a condominium. There is a strata fee involved for maintenance of the building. Ordinarily, you would pay the strata fee, own the condo, have the right to quiet enjoyment of the premises. You have other condominium units around you, and to some degree they have the ability to affect your quiet enjoyment of premises. Beneath you lives a smoker, and there is no bylaw against smoking on balconies. You, allergic to cigarettes, have recourse to discuss it with your neighbour or keep your windows closed. Another neighbour has a loud party, and ignores your complaint and so you take the complaint to the strata, who assess a fine against Mister Party Hardy. And should you find the accommodation not to your satisfaction, you can sell the unit, or rent it out.

Now picture Second Life. A bit of history first:

  1. Linden Labs begins to sell Openspace sims in bundles of four.
  2. Linden Labs raises the prim allowances from 1875 to 3750.
  3. About this time Linden Labs relaxes the requirement of buying four at a time and lowers the price to buy in.
  4. Now Linden Labs locks down the trade of Openspace sims and announces a 67 percent monthly cost increase.

If it were a condominium the changes would read:
  • May not sell or rent the condo.
  • Increase in strata fee of 67 percent.

The lawyers would launch like cruise missiles.

Of course, this isn't the real world, nor is it real estate. It is $250 a pop that is suddenly made impossible to recoup. Abandoned sims become free servers for Linden Labs to sell all over again. This, kids, is what we call a racket. Quote: "Typically, this usage is based on the example of the "protection racket" and indicates that the speaker believes that the business is making money by selling a solution to a problem that it created (or that it intentionally allows to continue to exist), specifically so that continuous purchases of the solution are always needed." This is the point over which the bulk of the outrage needs to be focused.

Now if I may don my tinfoil hat, and knowing that this is the usual modus operandi for Linden Labs, announce something up in the lunasphere and back away citing 'responding to input', was this the point of this morally bankrupt action with regard to the ability to divest yourself of the $250 a shot investment? To make the $50 a month increase look acceptable if the other restriction is lifted?

A personal experience with this point in the Blog Post: "More proactive education by support staff to prevent unfair resource use by Openspace regions." I will believe that when I see it. In 2006, I bought First Land in the sim Huchu with six friends. We parceled it together for a clubhouse. This was the first sim in which the Gold Rush Casino was founded. It sat on 5-6ooo square meters and had 32 camp chairs at its peak. The owner of this casino replicated this in the same corner of many sims in a checkerboard pattern . Ultimately he had 10-12 of these on 4096 parcels of land, each of them full of avatars 24/7.

I urge all Neo-Victorians to behave as such, in not howling like monkeys in the jungle, but by examining the facts, being unswayed by conspiracy theory, even mine above about the average method of Linden Labs price modifications. There is enough screeching already from every rooftop, enough that a polite but very firm stance just might be noticed amidst the mobs.

I urge the following:
  • Post here. Mention the foul play of selling a product then changing the rules on how it is to be sold. Be polite; there is more than enough ranting and vitriol already. Katt Linden said in the first comment here that Jack Linden will read all responses. He's had enough abuse. Good luck with that, Jack.
  • Vote here. The JIRA largely means nothing. This is about delivering the mail. If you must comment, again stick to the issue of foul play, be polite.
  • Remember that Linden Labs dropped prices, eased the purchase requirements, and increased prim allowances, making them the Best Deal on the Grid. If Linden Labs changes the rules on how they are to be used or sold after the buyer has received delivery and paid the fee, they must offer a refund option!
  • Remember that prices change. But there must also be a way to sell the asset to recoup what you can in the event of these price changes.
  • Insist on transparency on where the extra $50 is going if there shall indeed be an extra $50 (or any amount) charged. Will this go toward distributing three OS sims to a CPU?
  • Give Openspace owners guidelines on what exactly constitutes 'light use'? Are these? How about this? Or this? How about this obvious idiot?
  • Show up for Prospero Linden's office hours. He's a fine chap; treat him accordingly. He'll be working on the Beta release and Caledon will have several Openspace sims on the Beta grid. Be part of the solution.
  • Show up for the Openspace bashing event(s) should we have them on the Beta grid.
  • Can the vitriol.
  • Do not allow this unsporting conduct by Linden Labs slide by unchallenged. Reject every last bit of it on the basis of how it was presented. A price hike is one thing, handcuffing the bag to those who own one is another. No taxation without genuine ownership.
Her Lyonesse,
Kamilah I, Vicereine of Caledon, and a Canadian feeling the Spirit of 1776

7 comments:

Lynne said...

Along with Ordinal Malaprop, Miss Hauptmann's comment are the most informative and useful that I've read. Please encourage others to read them.

-Lynne Whitehorn/CoyoteAngel Dimsum

Kamilah Hauptmann said...

http://ordinalmalaprop.com/engine/2008/10/28/shouting-into-the-void/

Link to the post in question. I just read it myself and found the two make each other more complete as a whole.

Hypatia Callisto said...

there's my contribution

Edward Pearse, Duke of Argylle said...

I can certainly appreciate that prices need to go up. What annoys me is the justification of sim abuse being touted but not having anything done about it.

The increases of the primmage to openspaces to me was tacit encouragement to put something more than a couple of trees and fish on the sim. Obviously putting a nightclub on one is out. I'm sure they exist but I've not seen one myself. I've heard stories of them being set up as shopping centres too.

Really, LL should be trying to enforce the "light use" rather than going about it this way. But I guess I'm preaching to the choir here.

Rhianon Jameson said...

As I recall, the Spirit of 1776 didn't work out well for royalty, ma'am. :)

Kamilah Hauptmann said...

Yes, but I'm mad as a hatter, not a George.

Fogwoman Gray said...

I have anxiously awaited your comments, ma'am. Thank you for clarifying several items for me, and verfying my gut feeling that this smells to high heaven.
I had hoped for some semblance of professionalism and business sense to prevail when they added "M"....ah well.