The company also raised prices slightly. Instead of $3 for a 15,000-prim region capable of holding up to 20 avatars, the new permanent price is $5. Those wishing to pay just $3 can get a 7,500-prim region that can hold 10 avatars, and there’s also a 45,000-prim, 40-avatar region for $7.50.
Even with the slight increase, Zetamex is currently in the lead as the provider with the lowest region prices anywhere in OpenSim.
Instead of having to settle for a random name, customers can now choose their own region names.
In addition, there is now a choice between randomly-generated map coordinates and choosing your own — useful if you want to place a new region near an existing one, or near that belonging to a friend.
Next, customers can use their own OAR file instead of being limited to the four previous choices.
Folks who want their grids added to the list should contact Zetamex at [email protected]. Customers who host their whole grids with Zetamex can rent regions at these low prices as well, except without the 15 percent grid owner discount that applies to the standard hosting plans.
Zetamex will also continue offering a simple management panel that allow self-serve region restarts, an online backup to a single region storage slot, and an offline OAR export that can take a few hours.
Customers who need more features can upgrade to Zetamex’ regular plans, which start at $15 a month for a 20,000-prim regions that can be configured as variable-sized regions or megaregions. Customers can download and upload OAR region files and IAR inventory backup files at any time, change their physics engine and set threat levels — there is even console access for advanced users.
According to Zetamex CEO Timothy Rogers, 60 people bought the $3 regions in the week they were available.
The reason the company is able to offer such low prices is because it buys dedicated servers in bulk, at a discount, and then runs multiple regions on a single server, he said.
The servers are designed to be 25 percent empty, in case a region gets extremely busy.
If there is a larger spike in usage, the Zetamex platform responds immediately.
“We can spin up a cloud server on the fly, automatically in the back end and move over the offending regions to the cloud temporarily,” Rogers told Hypergrid Business.
Is it worth it?
I reviewed the $3 regions last week and believe that with the improvements — and despite the slight price increase — this is still an excellent deal for anyone looking to get started in OpenSim or needing a large amount of always-on land for special projects.
However, if the land is wanted for vehicles, then a regular simulator plan might be a better bet.
For example, the $70 simulator can hold up to 120,000 prims and 100 avatars on a variable region the size of 16 regular regions. If these were separate regions, that would be an average of 7,500 prims per region, for an average price of $4.38 a region. A very excellent deal.
The closest any other hosting company has to this is Kitely’s $100-per-month, 100,000-prim island that can also be configured as a 16-region variable size region. If those were separate regions, that comes out to… 6,250 prims per region at $6.25 per region.
Meanwhile, the Zetamex offer is always on. Although Zetamex does use cloud hosting to handle spikes in usage, their regions are never powered down.
Kitely always runs its regions in the cloud, and only powers them up when people teleport in. When not used, the regions are powered down. In practice this means that there’s a delay of a few seconds when someone tries to teleport to a region sometimes, and they have to wait for the region to be powered up. If there are already people on that region, of course, then the teleport is instantaneous.
Kitely also has a $20-per-month Premium Account plan that comes with five regions, or an average of $4 per region, but these regions are only accessible for free to other premium account holders — Kitely’s free users and hypergrid visitors cost about 20 cents per hour. Additional metered regions are around $1 each per month, but, again, are only free to access for other premium users.
As computing speed increases and it gets easier to turn regions on and off, we’ll probably soon see all hosting providers move to an on-demand model, since there is no practical benefit to keeping a region running when its empty. It just wastes computing power.
Right now, however, the delay is still noticeable, which gives Zetamex a marketing advantage.