Tuesday, February 20, 2007

First Land program to end

Tuesday, February 20th, 2007 at 1:12 PM PST by: Jack Linden

Effective immediately, the supply of cheap First Land parcels by Linden Lab will cease. Premium accounts will still be able to own up to 512m of land as part of their Premium membership package as they do now, the only change is that we will not be supplying the discounted parcels as we have done in the past. The website and knowledgebase will be amended to reflect this change shortly.

The First Land program was put in place to encourage land ownership for those moving up to Premium membership. Increasingly we have found that these cheap L$1 per meter parcels were not benefitting those people as intended. Because of the low price, they were being immediately sold, or bought via alts, purely for profit.

We have discussed many methods to ensure that First Land is used as intended but have decided that there is no way to do this without significantly impacting on resident freedoms. Therefore the First Land Program will no longer be provided. It may still be possible to find cheap land for sale, for example small parcels that have been abandoned and recycled by us, but it will not be sold specifically as First Land. Our hope is that through much higher levels of mainland expansion, market forces will act to bring resale prices down over time, for example the new continent being brought up to the east.

You may ask what, without First Land, is the value of a Premium account? Well consider that the L$1200 stipend per month (around USD$4.50) plus 512m free tier per month (around USD$5.00) means that the monthly premium account essentially pays for itself. We are actively looking for additional ways to increase premium value, and we would love to hear any ideas the community has on this.

[Quote from Second Life's official blog: http://blog.secondlife.com/2007/02/20/first-land-program-to-end/]

As representative of the First Land Searchers group I truely feel sorry this descision has been made. The reasoning behind this ruling is also questionable, and probably arguable from a contract point of view.

1. Current Land Searchers, for the larger part, have seriously been looking for a parcel to own themselves.
2. The unavailability of First Land has not been the result of huge speculation, but of the incapacity of Linden to address the problem of land-bots.
3. Premium account members have INVESTED in the expanse of Second Life based upon the contractual promise to right of ownership of a parcel of First Land.

Taking into account that there are thousands of premium membership owners who have signed up to pay $ 5,- a month for the right to hold First Land, it brings thousands of dollars of venue for Linden Labs this is easy money.

Cutting on the First Land allocation in this fashion will not achieve the goals intented. On the contrarry, it will work counter productive. It leaves thousands of frustrated users who will no longer support the ideals and growth of SL, it will fend off new upgrades to Premium accounts and will only end in a new surge in landprices.

The promise of finding alternative ways to make premium interesting again is not a substantial offer. Over 90% of the users have upgraded to premium solely for the purpose of owning First Land, and the only way to compensate this would be to increase the monthly stipend enough to enable us to buy a regulare parcel.

Additional Efforts that could be taken:
1. During transition phase premium account members receive enough L$ to purchase a normal lot.
2. Linden delivers enough first land for current premium account holders to fullfil the contractual First Land promise.

Rulings that could ensure First Land usage as intended:
1. First Land buyers take a contractual obligation to hold the First Land parcel for at least 1 year.
2. During a planned transition phase only existing parcels can be traded and auctioned. New parcels can only be sold if they originate from new regions.
Let us negotiate a transition phase

I truly hope there are some laywers out there with a copy of the original terms of use and premium membership rights that will make an effort of this issue in a RL court of law.

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