Why Kitely’s $20 plan is the better deal

It’s hard to tell from the Kitely home page, but the $14.95 price plan is not Kitely’s best deal.

Kitely prices

 

It can take a bit of hunting around to find it, but, buried deep on the Kitely services page, there’s another option — a $19.95 “Premium Account” that comes with five regions.

I’m an easily confused kind of person, so I was having a hard time figuring out the difference between these two plans. If you can get five regions for $20, why would anyone want to get one region for $15? And it gets better. If you’re on this plan, you can get as many additional regions as you want for just $1 each. Crazy, right?

And it gets better still. Each of these regions can hold 100,000 prims and up to 100 avatars — unlike the $15 region, which can do just 15,000 prims and 10 simultaneous visitors.

The Serenity Island region by Lawrence Pierce is an extremely complex, rich build with 100,000 prims. Click image to visit. (Image courtesy Lawrence Pierce.)

The Serenity Island region by Lawrence Pierce with 100,000 prims. (Image courtesy Lawrence Pierce.)

So why would anyone want the $15 plan, and why do they promote it on the home page?¬†And what’s the deal with the metering and the fixed-pricing?

So I called Kitely CEO Ilan Tocher today and asked him.

The main difference between the $15 and the $20 plans

If you sign up for the $20 plan and become a “Premium Account” user, then you have to pay extra if you want non-Premium folks to visit the region, at a price of approximately 20 cents per hour per user. It’s a little like cellphone roaming charges, except that you won’t get hit with a giant bill at the end of the month — the usage is simply capped based on how much virtual currency you have in your Kitely account.

So if all your potential visitors are also Premium Account holders, then it’s a no-brainer: go for the $20-a-month plan and build all the crazy stuff you want.

But if you expect a lot of casual visitors — or hypergrid visitors, now that Kitely is about to join the rest of the metaverse — then go for the $15 a month option.

So what do current Kitely users choose?

Ilan Tochner

Ilan Tochner

“Looking at our user base, Premium accounts are the most popular,” said Tochner. Again, that’s the $20, five-region plan. “If someone pays us, that’s what they usually go for.”

About two thirds of all paying customers opt for a Premium account, he said.

“Once you’ve been in Kitely for a long time, interacting with other people, it becomes a community,” he said. “And they convert to premium pretty quickly.”

Those five regions can be configured as five separate islands — or “worlds” as Kitely calls them, even though they are all part of the same Kitely grid — or as one four-region island or “world” and one single region. In addition, they can be part of bigger islands. For example, to get a 16-region megaregion, a user would just have to pay extra for the 11 additional regions, or $11 a month.

The add-on region

The $15 “Starter World” plan is the second most-popular choice, Tochner said.

However, it is usually bought in combination with a Premium plan.

So a customer might get a Premium Account and the five regions that come with it, pay $1 extra for any number of additional regions that they want, then buy extra $15 “Starter Worlds” for builds that they want to have wide public access for.

These regions are all accessible to the public whether they are Premium Account holders or not. Some are the $15 flat-rate regions, others are the free or $1 regions for which the owners pay extra for non-Premium visitors.

These are just some of the Kitely regions which accessible to the public whether they are Premium Account holders or not. Some are the $15 flat-rate regions, others are the free or $1 regions for which the owners pay extra for non-Premium visitors.

“There are people with dozens of metered worlds,” he said — the “metered worlds” are the free or $1 regions, “and they take one or two of the most popular worlds and they turn them into ‘Starter Worlds’.”

Is the 100 avatars for real?

So can Kitely really support 100 avatars per region? Tocher says it can.

“A university a while back got 62 people in-world at the same time, and the server still wasn’t maxed out,” he said.

This was a year ago, he added. Since then, Kitely has significantly improved its software and has also switched to bigger servers.

Today, he said, the company uses the large instances on Amazon cloud, multicore servers with 7.5 gigabytes of memory and fast gigabit Internet connections, taking advantage of Amazon’s recent price cuts to upgrade the infrastructure.

Usually, one of these servers will host several regions — until one of those regions gets really busy.

Convention Center at KatiJack Emporium on Kitely.

Convention Center at KatiJack Emporium on Kitely.

“Our system automatically changes the number of sims we run on each server,” he explained. “If a sim becomes crowded, within minutes it will get the entire server to itself.”

So 100 avatars is doable, he said.

However, if a region is particularly built up, or is running a lot of scripts, this may impact performance, he said.

In addition, you can’t get 400 people in one area by putting four regions together and putting 100 people on each corner. The 100 avatar limit applies to megaregions as well. So if you have a four-region megaregion, then you have a total of 100 avatars and 100,000 prims across all four regions.

Bottom line

If you’re going to be a Kitely customer, then go for the $20 plan. Most people don’t get enough traffic on their regions to worry about. At 20 cents an hour, billed by the minute, it’s not going to add up fast, especially since Kitely automatically boots people off if they’re inactive.

If it turns out that a particular region is very busy, move it to the $15 a month plan, or the $50 plan if the region is both busy and very crowded.

In a couple of days, I’ll be posting a follow-up article about how to get a free, 100-prim region on Kitely for as long as you want it, with detailed, step-by-step instructions.

 

maria@hypergridbusiness.com'

Maria Korolov

Maria Korolov is editor and publisher of Hypergrid Business. She has been a journalist for more than twenty years and has worked for the Chicago Tribune, Reuters, and Computerworld and has reported from over a dozen countries, including Russia and China.

  • Nice breakdown-)) I would add, that for me personally, I have found the free region they offer quite useful for my limited purposes there.

    Possibly, when they enable HG and I see how that goes, I may check into adding some additional low cost metered worlds around it, or separate from it [not sure how that all works yet as it does not interest me atm].

    But even for a free world, cool enough all on it’s own, I can load my OARs into in order to get various content I may want, and I can use it to display terrains if I have a customer who wishes that. And for 150 kcs to do that additional thing, it is very useful for my purposes. And I can even use their free and very useful Export world report to learn additional things about a specific region…have you tried that yet Maria?

    Since I make all my KCs inworld in various ways the entire thing is free for me, and has been since I went there over a year ago. Since I am a poor, poor loser in reality, that is cool to me they offer such a thing so I can at least do something there while I wait for them to enable HG.

    People simply cannot do any of that in the other sl clone grids and if they can get any free land, it is just a very limited free parcel, which to me now that I roam the free Meta and have multiple regions to use, or not use, as I wish, is to claustrophobic.

    So to my eyes it is just another forward thinking innovative thing Kitely does that embraces a changing Meta rather than doing the sameo sameo boring and failing sl business model that lacks any vision at all.

    Since more and more smart people see this, things are going well for them, and it should. For those with no vision and who like the status quo, they will either move along or fade away, and that is the natural way of the net.

  • Masami Kuramoto

    For $20 per month you can rent a dedicated server that will host not only your OpenSim regions 24/7 but also your Icecast server, your WordPress blog and your mailbox under your personal domain. You’ll be able to join one of the large OpenSim grids (OSgrid, Metropolis…) or run standalone with full access to the Hypergrid.

    • Dot

      If you have the technical expertise to do all that, yes, you are correct. However, Kitely makes it straightforward for less technically inclined creators to host regions, including making back-ups, via a web interface.

      Kitely also contributes directly to OpenSim development; I’m not sure whether the $20 a month you mention includes contributions towards grid infrastructure or for developing the OpenSim code.

      • Recognizing Kitely’s code contributions to OpenSim is important. Money going to Kitely helps fund OpenSim’s continued development. The same can’t be said for most other OpenSim grids and sim hosting providers. IMO, if you care about seeing OpenSim continue to improve then spend your money on services provided by Kitely or the few other individuals and organizations that contribute code to the OpenSim project.

      • Samantha Atkins

        I tried this experiment a few times. Running on a EC2 small instance is certainly cheap but the performance wasn’t as smooth, The fps was much more variable in my experience depending on how many prims and textures were in the direction faced. Upgrading to a large instance fixed most of that and gives comparable performance as kitely. Which is fine if you want to run a standalone or tie into osgrid or one of the other opensim grids as far as it goes. But since this gave me no particularly better experience than in Kitely and a lot more hassle and several missing conveniences and less community I got less enamored of it over time. YMMV. Now I do have a big honking unix box at home and a business class internet contract so RSN I will try some other experiments running my own regions.

        Always more toys and ideas than time and energy, eh?

        • Hi Samantha,

          Kitely currently uses m3.large Amazon instances for hosting simulators but it is also running in grid mode and utilizes several proprietary cloud-based systems, for example for inventory and assets. This means that the Kitely simulators hosted on these servers have a lot more server resources at their disposal in comparison to regular OpenSim simulators running in standalone mode on the same type of hardware. Due to our proprietary cloud-based systems, Kitely sims also benefit from improved performance and scalability when compared to regular OpenSim grids running on the same type of servers.

          To get a comparable level of performance from a hosted solution provided from someone else you’d therefor need to use more powerful servers, which would increase your hosting costs significantly.

    • If you have a spare computer, you can also run OpenSim at home, for free. I’ve posted how-tos about it before, and am working on updated ones.

      By using a hosted service like Kitely’s, you outsource all your maintenance and upkeep and upgrades and backups and everything else that goes into running your own OpenSim.

      • Masami Kuramoto

        Setting up an external server is actually easier than running OpenSim at home because you won’t have to worry about router/firewall configuration and dynamic IP addresses, and you won’t be in violation of your ISP’s terms of service. Most consumer-level contracts don’t allow running internet-facing servers at home.

      • Joe Builder

        why upgrade what works?

    • lmpierce

      $20 a month includes five regions, which can be separate or connected (well, four can be connected in that scenario in a 2×2 megaregion), so that alone is part of the value, and from there, adding regions at $1 a month is a substantial additional value by any standard. Kitely is a 24/7 hosting service – the world startup process is a technical method of access; in effect, Kitely worlds are effectively 24/7 as much as any other service. And since Kitely is clearly working towards near future implementation of Hypergrid connectivity, it is only a matter of weeks before it is just as connected as the user wants it to be, up to and including access to OSGrid.

      Before using Kitely, I ran a local install of OpenSim and that was a valuable experience. Learning how the software works on the backend really helps one understand what the various services offer and their underlying value. At the same time, my time is always worth something, and to pay $20 a month to have a company provide the hosting, updates, fixes, answer questions and provide a community framework is actually a significant savings to me in time, toil and frustration.

      What’s great though, is that within Kitely, and among the various grid service providers, (as well as direct end-user access to the software) there are options. Free, pay a little, pay a lot. It seems to me Kitely has found a sweet spot in terms of cost versus value.

      • Joe Builder

        How about pay nothing and run it yourself. That’s the fun and idea in opensims have 100% control. Its so easy now even a Walmart cheapo PC can run a few regions. Use a version that has been proven to work Like a 7.6 early March release.

        • lmpierce

          Yes, as I noted in the final paragraph of my comment, direct end-user access to the software, which is free, is certainly an option. My point is that there are options at various levels of payment, including free, which offer various levels of control and service.

  • @ Masami Kuramoto Show me a Dedicated server for $20 A Month