So how good are the $3 regions, anyway?

Sept. 18 update: All prices will be going up on Nov. 1 but existing customers — and all those who order before Nov. 1 — will be grandfathered in. Read more here.

Aug. 9 update: The prices were slightly raised, and more features added, with more starting regions, and choice of names and locations. Grid owners can also buy these regions for their Zetamex-hosted grids. Read more here.

I was chatting with the folks on the InWorld Review today about how great the new $3 region offer from Zetamex was and couldn’t resist — I had to pick one up for myself.

The ordering process was simple — just click on the blue “Order One!” button on this page.

There was a super simple form to fill out — they just wanted my real name, avatar name, my email address, choice of grids — OSgrid or Metropolis — and choice of starter region — flat land, Country Cabin, Tropical House, or Lake House. I went with the tropical house.

Linda Kellie's Lake House region

Linda Kellie’s Lake House region

All three are Linda Kellie regions, meaning that all content on them is CC0 licensed — you can do anything you want with it, up to and including modifying it and even selling it. So they make for great choices for starter regions.

Linda Kellie's Country Cabin region.

Linda Kellie’s Country Cabin region.

Then I got an invoice by email and made the $3 payment via PayPal. The region, I was told, would take up to 12 hours to show up.

In fact, the notification about my new region came in about two hours.

I got the login instructions for the Web-based management panel, called ZetaPanel, and the name of my new region and how to take ownership of it.

First, the panel.

Super simple region management

I clicked on the link, entered the user name and password provided, and my region management panel came right up.

ZetaPanel main

So, basically, just three controls. You can restart the region, do a backup, or request an OAR file. An OAR is a full export of a region and everything on it – useful for making local backups, or for selling a build that you’ve created, or for moving an entire region from one grid to another.

The OAR download gets sent by email, and is handled manually, so can take up to six hours.

This is the only quibble I had with the whole experience — requesting an OAR required that I fill in my email address and region name, even though the system should have already known which region I wanted the OAR of, since I was already at the Region Controls panel. The six hour wait doesn’t bother me — it’s a $3 region! I can wait a few hours for my file.

ZetaPanel backup

Update: the OAR arrived, in the form of an email link, about two hours after I placed the request.

The region backups are handled automatically, via a single backup slot. This is useful for when you’re about to start making a lot of changes on a region, and don’t know whether you’ll like it or not, so you save a backup first, then restore it when you decide you don’t like the changes.

Or you can make the backup when the region is finished, and looks just perfect. That way, if you accidentally set your access controls wrong, and a griefer comes along and messes it up, you can just restore it to its pristine state with a single click.

Taking ownership also super easy

To get my region, I followed the very simple instructions that were emailed to me. I logged into OSgrid with the avatar name I provided when I originally ordered the region, teleported over to my new region — called Koanend — right-clicked on the ground, and bought it.

It was extremely painless.

Both OSgrid and Metropolis are hypergrid-enabled, meaning that you can teleport to over 100 other grids from your regions. I plan to put up a gate to my office on Hyperica.

My new region, called Koanend, on OSgrid. I think I like it.

My new region, called Koanend, on OSgrid. I think I like it.

As I mentioned before, this is Linda Kellie’s Tropical OAR, which is free for anyone to grab and download. Like all her content, it has a certain Linda Kellie quality, a light and breezy style, which is perfectly appropriate for this tropical setting.

Lounging in the pool.

Lounging in the pool.

The region is ready for use. The pool floats work, and have appropriate poses.

Koanend relaxing

Hanging out in my new house.

So does all the furniture inside. You can even sit on the toilet — though I didn’t check to see whether it flushed or not!

I really like the deck.

I really like the deck.

There’s a fire in the firepit. I can see inviting friends over to hang out some night. Mental note: make some non-work friends.

Koanend relaxing bath

Washing off the sand.

The bathroom comes with a bathtub — again, with the appropriate animation.

Relaxing at the end of the day.

Relaxing at the end of the day.

My first day on my new region comes to an end. All this wandering around sitting on things tired me out. Luckily, I have a bed to sleep on. Nice!

Bottom line

Run, don’t walk, over to Zetamex to grab some of these $3 regions before they run out. The company can’t guarantee that they’ll keep them around, but do promise not to raise prices on you once you’ve bought one.

And if you ever need more functionality, you can always upgrade to their regular prices, which start at a pretty low $15 a month, anyway.


  • You only get 15,000 prims — 45,000 if you go for the $7.50 region
  • You only get a choice of OSgrid and Metropolis
  • They don’t tell you how many avatars the region can support
  • You don’t get to pick the name of your region
  • You don’t get to choose the coordinates of your region
  • You don’t get to upload just any old OAR you like


  • For $3 a month, who needs any of that stuff, anyway?
  • It’s so ridiculously simple. I can’t believe how easy this was.
  • Did I mention it’s $3 a month?
  • They don’t put any restrictions on how you can use this region.
  • Oh, and it’s $3 a month.

Related Posts'

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. Follow me on Twitter @MariaKorolov.

61 Responses

  1.' Key Gruin says:

    Seems like a good business model, and a good entry point into the metaverse beyond hosting on your home PC.

  2.' Haw Haw says:

    Sounds smart and easy, unlike what they are trying to do to people over at Second Lie and High Smelldelity.

  3.' hack13 says:

    At the MOMENT *hint hint* you cannot change the name or location, secondly 20 avatars is the limit. But please stay tuned to Zetamex’s official blog as we have a big announcement about these plans coming.

    •' Minethere says:

      yea, I was just in contact with you all yesterday, for a friend [I am fine with my current plan with y’all], and it would be nice, for some upcharge or even a one-time fee in the initial setup, to allow people to name it themselves and be able to upload their own OAR [or give it to you to upload]…my friend is willing to pay 20 bucks or so, I think she said, one time.

      But, most importantly, to my eyes, such as you guys offer and Kitely [and I still wish you both to keep peace on earth and goodwill towards all men!! lol…nvm this part], is low entry costs, as you mentioned, for people to at least check out current OpenSim and the hypergated Meta.

      This is not mutually exclusive and benefits us all. I will point my friend to this article.

    •' Olive Tor says:

      I’m the friend LOL. Im still tempted, but I’d be happy if I could I could pay a setup fee for one oar loading and one name change:).

  4.' Seth Nygard says:

    These seem like an ideal offering for anyone to not only try things out, but should fit very well for many people longer term as well. Thanks for the article highlighting them.

  5.' Ilan Tochner says:

    This is a shared hosting solution where the more resources one person’s region takes the less resources there are left for running other people’s regions.

    The real question is how much memory and CPU resources (cores and CPU speed) does each simulator get and how many of these regions share each single simulator.

    Your inworld experience will depend on these parameters.

    •' hack13 says:

      Yes your are correct this is a shared plan, allowing them to be cheaper. But to answer your question:

      1 Simulator with 6 Regions to 2 Cores. Our servers these guys run on contain 2 Xeon Processors each with 16 Cores. We NEVER oversell our resources and don’t ever plan on doing so. If someone does abuse resources, we have shell script that emails our staff to take the instance into an isolated instance.

      Thank you for your interested in our plans 🙂

      •' Ilan Tochner says:

        So you run 16 * 6 = 96 regions on each server, each with up to 15,000 prims (a total of 1,440,000 prims on a server not counting those worn by avatars), and their own set of scripts and physics-enabled objects? If so, you are overselling server space and will have to reduce the number of regions on the server to maintain anything close to reasonable performance once people actually start using the regions.

        Have you taken into consideration your own customer support costs? At $3/customer before datacenter expenses you have very little room left to pay for professional support representatives (your ability to do it all yourself will be exhausted at around the hosting industry’s average customers per support representative number).

        •' hack13 says:

          Again Ilan we don’t let our server exceed 75% cpu or ram usage. When we get close we just order another server and have it placed on our rack. We leave 25% of space open to burst. This means we don’t fill our servers to the brink, which is something many providers do, we don’t believe in overselling because we have seen it go bad too many times.

          Secondly, we have exclusive contracts with a few of our datacenters which allow use to get servers at ridiculously low prices because we own so many. We are currently sitting on about 32 servers right now, all with various different amounts of resources.

          Thirdly as for the support issues, we are more than equipped to handle it. We even offer phone support which I have yet to see from any other opensim service provider. We have people employed from around the world USA, Canada, UK, and we are working on getting German to join our team.

          •' Ilan Tochner says:

            Hi Timothy, again the numbers don’t add up. You won’t be able to place the amount of real regions you’ve stated on each server. It’s enough that people each use only a few hundred scripts in their regions and you’ll be forced to significantly reduce the number of regions your run if you wish to not surpass 75% CPU or RAM usage. If you’re prepared to do so then it’s all good and dandy but I suspect you’ll find this offer to be unprofitable even before considering the cannibalization effect it will have on your other offerings and the amount of customer support this will require if this option becomes popular with your customers.

          •' hack13 says:

            You do realize we don’t use standard opensimulator in our backend, we do a hyperbrid system. I personally have coded some PHP tools which handle several internal features of OpenSimulator to offload them. We have also built some tools which assist with offloading memory usage using our hybrid tools where regions can spin up cloud instances and burst over into them if the 25% gets too full.

            Again we are more than equipped to handle this, and secondly it is not designed to be very profitable. We are not in the business of being profitable, we are in the business of providing a service for people to get into opensim and see what its like and give it a chance. I am not really interested in the money, but I got to pay my own bills and the server bills, and peoples pay checks so I gotta change something.

            Your entitled to your opinion, so believe what you want. We have a proprietary back-end just like you do, that is oiled and greased with our tender love and care. We would give our back-end to the public but, its mainly built around our setup, which is a mess if your not one of our staff so no one would really benefit from it. But we do release parts of it opensource all the time. You can view some of the small stuff we have already released on our gitlab. I am not going to say anything else here, because I don’t want this to turn into an argument. You run Kitely how you want Kitely ran, and I will run Zetamex how I want Zetamex ran. That’s what capitalism is all about, as well as free choice.

          •' Ilan Tochner says:

            Super, but that didn’t really address my comment. You’re free to run your business as you see fit. Good luck.

          • Resisting the urge to Mrrrowww at you both. LOL. Miney and I will be standing in our corner, joining hands and singing Kum Ba Yah. Everybody now!

          •' Minethere says:

            Steph, I, and my cohorts, have been working on this for some time now…we DO expect to prevail within at least one of us lifetime!!! We think it really just boils down to a difference in business approach, and since both offer very good entry points into OpenSim and hypergating, albeit each in their own unique ways, I see them as complementary, and very good for the open Metaversum.

            But they are both young’uns [compared to us..if u don’t mind], so we will continue in our quest to overcome!!

            This has been a PSA for Kum Ba Yah!!

          •' Ener Hax says:

            hack13 – your offering seems very transparent (very good thing) and for $3 a month, I wouldn’t expect SL performance (lol, yours is probably better!) =)

            I don’t think you need to answer every criticism or question – it’s $3 a month and that’s a generous and wonderful way for people to get their toes wet!

            Just another awesome option out there and people can try it easily and in a most affordable manner! (free choice!)

            nicely done!

          •' Jack Harkenss says:

            I agree here. It seems no good deed goes unpunished.

            For 3 dollars a month with 24 hour access grandfathered in with options for upgrade I don’t see the warrant for any drama.

            Grid owners do not realize how close we watch not only innovations but attitudes as well.

            Thank you for offering unheard of prices and most people are realistic in terms of what you will get for that three dollars. Personally I see the best value for a region offered yet. And by an opensim dev (if I read that right in comments on another article).

            Kum Ba Yah here too. Nice work, Zetamex!

          •' kite552 says:

            I just want to clarify here, I am not an official opensim developer. I do write patches and have them on my own personal git repo’s and I have helped develop some other features in opensim but I am not a core developer. Just wanted to point that out.

          •' Jack Harkenss says:

            Thanks for the clarification. 🙂 Thanks for offering a great way to get people into Opensim. The days of high priced SL regions and overpriced grid regions in opensim is being challenged by you guys that offer a difference in approach to the walled garden, SL clone way of doing things. This is how the metaverse will grow. Hypergates, reasonable prices and innovations in business approaches.

          •' Minethere says:

            And I see it appears you and I are more on the same page…yeaaaa!!-)

          •' Minethere says:

            Just to be clear, for my part, I was in no way whatsoever disparaging either Hack or Ilan, whom both I admire for what they are doing for the hypergated Meta, my primary focus now.

            I also do not think there was any drama here, and mentioning some think there is, only makes it in fact so, but not by them, by those who use the word.

            Often true drama queens are those who first throw out the words.

            Not saying this to you, specifically, Jack, I have no clue who you are and a review of your disqus shows only a recent comment on the inwz nazi thing.

          •' Jack Harkenss says:

            Drama was an overkill word for this. I see so much drama surrounding commercial grids that I suppose I was reading too much into this. Ilan was actually included in the innovation part up there.

            He did kinda come out swinging though but as you say “mentioning some think there is, only makes it in fact so, but not by them, by those who use the word.” So, I would remove the word drama from my post if I could.

            Kum Ba Yah!

            Oh, btw, You won’t have a clue who I am. In fact this is a new account as I reenter Opensim after a hiatus. It is just time to move forward with a new persona. You and I have never interacted before today so nice to meet you.

          •' Minethere says:

            Nice to meet you also-) Welcome back to OpenSim. There is drama overkill but it’s not in this article, and yes, it mostly comes from the commercial grids, but I, personally, see both Zetamex and Kitely as more land hosting companies.

            Of course Kitely does it in a grid structure and has the marketplace, but since they enabled both the MP and their grid to the hypergates, it comes more in line with my interests.

            To me they both offer complimentary, but different, aspects, which I like to see as such things appeal to a wider market, and to each their own.

            Much more to all this, but I’m tired and just saying Hello-)) back.

          •' Jack Harkenss says:

            Thanks for the clarification on grid vs. land hosting.

          •' Padi Phillips says:

            Nice comment about SL performance… I’ve never understood why SL has become such a benchmark for virtual worlds (apart from popularity) when I can’t use ultra graphics, Advanced lighting and have the draw distance set to 1024 everywhere painlessly – I can do this virtually everywhere I go in the OpenSim metaverse, but absolutely nowhere in SL – even with mid graphics, and a draw distance set to 128 m and I get bad lag a lot of the time in SL.

            Oh, and region crossings are still awful…

            Perhaps we should all go and tell our friends in SL about the $3 regions in OS Grid and Metropolis… that means you can have (theoretically) 116 regions (at UK prices) from Zetamex for the price of one (badly performing region) in Second Life.

            Nice one Zetamex!

          •' Padi Phillips says:

            Anarchism is about free choice too, and it seems to me that the Zetamex business model is closer to the anarchist than the capitalist (Kitley) model. Anarchists of course realise that the need to make a profit is total bunkum, but having said that, (unlike classic socialists) do realise that costs have to be covered (as does Zetamex). I’m guessing that providers like Zetamex could present a threat to Kitely’s bottom line.

            I run my own regions, on my own home connection (I have a good connection) and I’m fortunate in having a pretty good FTTC connection. Having said that, I doubt that even I can compete with $3 per region per month!

            But I do have total control of my little world through the console…

        •' hack13 says:

          To put into perspective how we can afford to do this, for every 16 $3/month we sell we cover the cost of a server.

          •' Ilan Tochner says:

            You’re claiming you’re getting a 32 core server for $48/month? How much bandwidth does that server’s network connection provide (1 gigabit? more?)

          •' hack13 says:

            500Mbps connection, and its a 16core 2 8 core’s. Again not saying anything else because I don’t want an argument. If you want to see all the providers we use, they are listed on our site under Network. Thought I do need to update that page, its kinda outdated.

          •' Ilan Tochner says:

            So 48 regions share a 500Mbs connection? Again, not nearly enough resources to provide a good experience when people actually use their regions. But it’s your business, run it as you please. Good luck.

  6. Hi Maria, glad you like the deal our CEO has created and the control panel too.
    We are working on ZetaPanel 3 so you wont need to input your email address when making OAR’s.
    The current system does not fetch database data but ZP3 will which will make our panel even more easier to use with alot more features.

  7.' Zandramas Grid says:

    This is a big win – win situation for everyone.

    1.) Best price I have seen for an always on region

    2.) Managed and hosted by a real & reliable and reputable company

    3.) Outstanding performance

    4.) Did I mention the price?

    5.) Hypergrid connectivity

    So happy that Zetamex is offering this it really helps get more people involved in having a region of their own at an affordable price and not only that but helps the community grow even more.

    Now one big question?? Whitecore regions?

    Availible? Same price?? Please!!!!

    Keep up the great work Zetamex

  8. Update: The requested OAR arrived as a download link in an email a couple of hours after I filed the article. So, all the functionality works exactly as promised. And with support for up to 20 avatars, as Tim mentioned in one of the comments here, you REALLY can’t beat this deal anywhere. A typical home-based connection — while free — will support five avatars at most. With 20 avatars, you can actually do stuff with this region. You can throw parties. Host a book club. Have a little store.

    I hope that this deal brings in some new people to OpenSim who might have been holding off on renting regions before.

  9.' Serene Jewell says:

    I like the idea of $3 entry-level regions as a way of getting more people to dip their toe into hypergridding and OpenSim. It can be a little home of your own on the grid whle you figure things out. Eventually you will want to get out and about to visit the wider metaverse. There are a lot of great builders in OpenSim who want people to come hang out and play or party or explore. And there are merchants who want customers. This seems like a good way to bring them in. If they outgrow the $3 region as I expect many will, they will upgrade to other offerings like Kitely. Seems like a win-win.

  10.' John Mann says:

    I got excited after reading this, and went to get one or two of these, but it seems the registration form has been “disabled”. Sold out already?

    •' hack13 says:

      Hi John, I do apologize we are not sold-out. However, we have suspended sign ups till tomorrow as we are rolling out our new automated back-end that will allow us to better keep up with the massive registration flood we have been getting. So just be sure to come and check back tomorrow.

      •' John Mann says:

        Ah, that’s great news. I was worried that the demand might have been greater than the supply! What time GMT should I set my alarm for? 🙂

  11. One reader just emailed me worried about low-quality regions giving people a bad impressions of OpenSim. Personally, I think this is a non-issue. On OSgrid and Metropolis, in particular, where these regions are attached, there are hundreds — if not thousands — of home-based regions. If anything gives a bad impression of OpenSim it’s a home-based region running on a ten-year old computer that’s only up a couple of hours a month.

    If this deal inspires some of those folks to trade up, it’s all good.

    Better yet, if this deal inspires some people to come to OpenSim who had been previously holding off because it seemed too complicated, then this deal is certainly for them.

    Now all we need is for some of the other hosting companies out there to step up and match it.

    Better yet, go out, get some VC funding, and put up a virtual version of GeoCities. Remember that? It was an early version of Blogger. You got a single page, and there were ads on that page, and it was really ugly — but it was a FREE WEBPAGE that anyone could get. And people went nuts over it.

    In 1999, when it was bought by Yahoo!, it was the third most-visited site on the Net. It was shut down finally in 2009, by which time it had hosted 38 million pages.

    So here’s the plan. You create a grid. You get VC funding. You give away free regions with ads on them. Ad-free regions or high-traffic or high-prim regions cost extra. You market it to the 100,000 people who bought the Oculus Rift dev kits, and to the millions still using Second Life. Then, after the Oculus consumer version comes out, you sell out to Facebook. You will become widely reviled for selling out, for betraying all your customers, for profiting off all their personal info and behavioral data you’ve gathered. You’ll laugh all the way to your tropical island paradise. Ha ha ha, you’ll say. Bwa ha ha ha ha!

    Meanwhile, all your customers will have fled to some other online platform, which offers customers more space, with fewer ads and less privacy violation. Facebook will be left with nothing. You won’t care, because you’ll have already cached your check. You will laugh again. Bwa ha ha ha! Bwa!

    •' Serene Jewell says:

      Love it! That scenario is probably being tossed around over expensive coffee right now in a little cafe South of Market in San Francisco. Maybe with more buzz words and less overt Bwa ha ha. Come to think of it, I’m going to have tea in a little cafe South of Market this afternoon. I’ll talk about this too loudly and see if anyone bites. 🙂 “It’s like GeoCities but in Virtual Reality!”

      • Cool!

        I think the key selling point — and what made GeoCities do so well — is that it gave you a blank slate to work from and easy content creation tools. You could create your own page and put whatever you wanted up there. Sure, most of it was crappy, but even the crappiest thing can be valuable to somebody, somewhere.

        With OpenSim, you can do the same thing. The content creation tools may be difficult compared to, say, making a post on Facebook, but they’re super easy compared to learning to develop in Unity or build in 3D Max or Maya. It really gives the average person a chance to create their own virtual environment.

        Most of the other 3D environments out there are trying to sell you the content. OpenSim is currently the only platform that gives you a platform for creation.

        (I’m counting out Second Life because it’s too expensive for the average user, and counting out Open Wonderland because it’s too hard to use, doesn’t have any public grids, and doesn’t have the hypergrid.)

        • And, plus, OpenSim already has Oculus Rift support.

        •' Minethere says:

          oddly, I just got some email on my old geocities account that I have not used in ages…apparently they sold the list, a typical thing to do and only mildly annoying, but it was interesting since I had forgotten what the name of that site I had was called-)

      •' Serene Jewell says:

        Sadly there didn’t seem to be any venture capitalists hanging around the Brickhouse this afternoon, so this idea remains unfunded for now.

  12. I also want to remind folks who rent these regions that, since OSgrid and Metropolis are both on the hypergrid, you can go shopping on the Kitely Market and get stuff delivered to your local avatar on your $3 region. Just make sure to click the “export” filter when you search the marketplace —

  13.' Oddje Otoole says:

    “Orders Are Currently Suspended, Please check back in 24 hours!”

    Yay o/

  14.' Mircea Kitsune says:

    This is indeed a nice plan and idea. Although I’m personally interested in grids that let you host a region from your own computer openly… like OSGrid. I think that’s the point of Opensim after all.

    • the only problem with hosting sims from personal computers is that they require alot of cpu and ram and a damn good internet connection if the sims are open for others to teleport to. I think thats why most people just rent sims from the grid owners and/or hosting company’s like Zetamex.

      •' Han Held says:

        It depends.
        If you expect to have a heavily trafficed region, renting is the only practical way to go.

        I have a quad-core i5 with 4 gigs of ram, and I’ve been able to comfortably have 4 people visit my desktop regions at the same time -and that’s in addition to myself (logged in with a viewer …which takes up more cpu and ram than opensim).

        I think if you’ve got at least 1 meg/sec down and 1 meg up and at least 4 gigs of ram (most modern computers do), you should be fine having 2 people visit at the same time (my experience was 4, but I’m making a conservative guess).

    •' Han Held says:

      I don’t know about “the point” (that’s subjective and everyone will say it’s something different) However, I agree that independant ownership and control is the strongest selling points of opensim, including the ability to have everything on your personal computer.

  15.' Osaka Harker says:

    And the next day is already stopped…. sadly just now got to see this and went to try and get one and no luck…. i guess it was a good idea while it lasted… maybe i’ll get luckier later… but one day seems like very short time to close requests.

    •' Jack Harkenss says:

      There was mention above by hack 13 this is a temporary sign up closure:

      “we have suspended sign ups till tomorrow as we are rolling out our new automated back-end that will allow us to better keep up with the massive registration flood we have been getting. So just be sure to come and check back tomorrow.”

      So, good news.. they will have them back after that. 🙂

  16.' Alex Zed says:

    Congratulations to Zetamex, that was a very good idea, a great opportunity also for OSGrid and Metropolis. Timothy, you are very innovative.