Virtual Worlds | Viewpoint

Linden Lab To End Second Life Educational Discounts

Education customers are offered an early renewal deal at the old rate, with options for six to 24 months.

Second Life operator Linden Lab has let fly another bombshell for education customers: Not only is the company shutting down its Teen Grid, as previously reported, but it's also ending discounts for educational and non-profit organizations. The new policy will essentially double the normal region rates for these communities and will go into effect as soon as Jan. 1, 2011.

The formal notice reads, in part: "All education and non-profit private regions of any type, purchased after Dec. 31, 2010, will be invoiced at standard (i.e. non-discounted) pricing. All currently discounted renewals which occur after Dec. 31, 2010, will be adjusted to the new price at that time."

Community Reaction
The reaction was swift and harsh from Second Life members responding on the Linden blog. Said user Shirley Marquez:

"Doubling the price of regions for nonprofit and educational use strikes me as a really bad idea. Do we really need a mass exodus of these important members of the Second Life community at this time?"

And said user Ceera Murakami:

"As someone who has several education clients, I guess I will be seeing them leave the SL grid soon.... Doubling their overhead costs without sufficient time to get new funding will force a lot of sim shut-downs. You ARE aware that most educational organizations have budgets that are cast in stone for the entire school year? Double their pricing in January, and there won't be sufficient funds to make it through June. And they won't have a new budget until next September.

"I am very glad now that my biggest education customer has already had me re-create half their SL grid sims on their own OpenSim servers. I'll get to work right now on the bid to re-create the other half of their SL sims there, so they don't have to lose those facilities when you double their rent in the middle of the school year."

An Extension for Early Renewal
Linden Lab softened the blow soon after by offering discounts for early renewals. The offer, unlike the news of the education price hike, was not posted on the Linden blog but was sent out to education and nonprofit e-mail list subscribers.

The new new deal, according to Linden's letter, is as follows:

By now many of you have likely read the blog regarding our recent decision to discontinue the educational/not-for-profit discount on January 1, 2011 when we will move to a consistent pricing approach for all in Second Life. We recognize that this increase in cost may pose a hardship especially with the timing of budgets and funding, which is why we're offering an early renewal option to extend the amount of time you can continue at the current rates in exchange for a longer term commitment.

An educational or not-for-profit institution that is currently under contract with us will be able to renew early (or purchase additional regions) and continue to receive the current 50 percent discount on land maintenance provided that the renewal takes place prior to the December 31, 2010. You will be able to select contract renewal options of 6, 12, 18 or 24 months under these terms. If your organization renews and enters into a contract no later than December 31, 2010, it can lock in the current discounted rate for up to 24 additional months.

Please note that any new purchases or renewals occurring after December 31, 2010 will be at our standard prices without the previous discount.

Those education institutions that want to continue to receive land use discounts may choose six-, 12-, 18- or 24-month contracts. The amount varies according to length and must be pre-paid. Schools deciding to decline the discount will see their prices go up after the first of the year.

A Bright Side for Middle Schools?
There might be a bright side for some. Those teachers with 13- to 15-year-old students will be able to continue their curricula, and continue uninterrupted, as Linden Lab said it plans to move those regions rather than leave them stranded.

We'll bring you updates when more information becomes available. Further details can be found in the Teen Second Life transition wiki here.

About the Author

Denise Harrison is a freelance writer and editor specializing in technology, specifically in audiovisual and presentation. She also works as a consultant for Second Life projects and is involved with nonprofits and education within the 3D realm. She can be reached here.