The new year begins with both good news, and bad news.
The bad news, first.
Haven, a small commercial grid, closed as of December 27. According to a letter by the founder, health issues have cut into both the time and the financial resources she is able to dedicate to the grid.
In better news, several new grids are opening up.
Great Canada Grid opens
The Great Canada Grid is currently in beta, so is still working on creating its own currency, grid founder Roddie Macchi told Hypergrid Business.
It is hypergrid-enabled, but hypergrid will be turned off sometime in the spring. Until then, those interested can visit the grid by teleporting to 22.214.171.124:9000 from any other hypergrid-enabled grid.
Macchi said he was inspired to start the grid because of the hundreds of people who contacted him in Second Life after the loss of the Great Canadian Cabin group.
“Until I created the Great Canadian Cabin in Second Life, there was really no place for Canadians to meet and mingle and maybe even meet in real life,” he said. “Because, let’s face it, if you find the girl or man of your dreams, it’s a lot easier if they live in the same country.”
Macchi added that he has enough resources allocated up front to run the grid for four years even if things go badly in his personal life. He added that the primary goal of the grid is to be a huge success at serving the Canadian community — and their friends from other countries — and he plans to keep prices low. A 15,000-prim region is CAD $15 a month, with no visitor limits, and an 8,000-prim region is $8 a month.
Karmalot Kingdom holds grand opening party
Karmalot Kingdom, a hypergrid-enabled grid serving the Dominant/submissive adult lifestyle, is holding a grand opening event on January 4 from noon to 8 p.m. Eastern time, or 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Pacific.
The grid uses the Karmalot Coin as an in-world fictional currency that both residents and visitors can earn by mining, fishing, hunting and other in-world activities. Items bought with Karmalot Coins on the Karmalot Village Market region can be taken home to other grids.
Another World to give away US$1,000 to a new paying resident
Interested in winning $1,000 in American dollars? Buy a $5 premium membership on the Another World grid or rent a 12,000-prim homestead region at $30 a month.
Tropical Paradise holds two-for-one land sale
The closed commercial grid Tropical Paradise Virtual World is holding a two-for-one land sale until the end of January.
Residents who rent a 24,000-region for US $60 a month, will get a second region free.
OpenSim Creations to host Linda Kellie and Arcadia Asylum items
OpenSim Creations, a content sharing site and grid, will soon have all of Linda Kellie’s and Arcadia Asylum’s items available for download. And, starting on January 1, 10 percent of all payments and donations received will go towards funding OpenSim development.
If you haven’t donated yet, weekly contributions start at just 25 cents. The donation page is here.
Virtual Highway reports successful 2013
The commercial Virtual Highway grid reports that its user base more than doubled over the course of 2013.
“We have had a very good 2013 and happy to have so many new friends join us on the Virtual Highway road trip,” said grid founder Gene Call. “We are looking forward to an equally enjoyable 2014 and have many more exciting things planned.” According to Call, 1100 new user accounts were created in 2013.
According to Hypergrid Business data, total registered users increased by 150 percent, from 756 at the end of 2012 to 1884 at the end of this year. Active monthly users increased by 100 percent, from 115 to 231 from year-end 2012 to year-end 2013.
Part of the increase was due to in-world events. Last month, for example, the grid decorated two sims for the holidays, organized live music and DJs, held a snowman building contest, a treasure hunt celebrating a new boardwalk build, and a fundraiser for the Feed a Smile charity.
Next year promises to be just as busy for grid. Virtual Highway’s January events calendar, for example, is booked solid with DJs and live music events.
Kitely announces new price plans
Kitely has made a big step towards a more traditional pricing model today with its new pricing plans.
“We’ve eliminated the concept of minutes and made Kitely free to visit,” Oren Hurvitz, Kitely’s Co-founder and VP R&D, said in the announcement. “The only people who will now need to pay for access to worlds are the people who own those worlds. We’ve also lowered our prices to make Kitely your best choice for getting your own virtual worlds.”
Previously, every Kitely user got a certain number of minutes to use in-world. Free users got six hours the first month, and two hours a month after that. Once those minutes were used up, residents could only visit those regions where the region owner subsidized their time.
Part of the reason for this change was to reduce complexity for users, Hurvitz said. But it also makes hypergrid travel easier, since visitors from other grids wouldn’t have reserves of Kitely Minutes to pay for their time on the grid. “And we wanted to make sure they’ll still be able to visit Kitely worlds.”
The price schedule is now lower than that offered by most commercial grids, but similar to that of hosting providers such as Zetamex.
A single 15,000-prim region capable of holding up to 10 avatars is about $15 a month. A 60,000-prim region or four-region megaregion that can hold up to 40 avatars is about $50 a month. And a 100,000-prim region which can be scaled all the way up to a 16-region megaregion, capable of holding up to 100 avatars, is around $100 a month.
This is relatively straightforward. However, Kitely has also retained the option to have regions that are billed by usage, and here is where it gets complicated.
These regions — called “Metered Worlds” — cost 1 Kitely Credit per minute per visitor. Every Kitely user automatically gets one free metered region, and six hours of time to spend in that region. Once that time runs out, however and they want to keep visiting that region, they’ll either have to buy additional Kitely Credits, upgrade to a Premium Account or change the region to a flat-rate region. The Premium Account, which costs around $20 a month, allows the user unlimited access to Kitely, and comes with five free metered regions.
Since there are now two tiers of users — regular and premium — owners of metered regions now have new access options. Specifically, they can restrict their regions so that only Premium Account holders can visit them, meaning that there is no charge for their time to the region owner.
So far, the reaction has been positive, said Kitely CEO Ilan Tochner.
“Our subscription-based revenue has more than doubled since we announced our new pricing structure,” he told Hypergrid Business. “Now that the full details have been released, we’re seeing continued enthusiasm for the Premium Account and growing interest for our new Starter Worlds. Today’s update eliminated time-based billing from the concerns of people who just want to visit other people’s worlds. This in turn has helped get more people discussing the benefits of using our service.”
Littlefield to celebrate Festival of Lights, debuts mesh clothing
Littlefield Grid will be celebrating the Festival of Lights on January 5.
“This traditionally follows 12 days after Christmas, commemorating the Star of Bethlehem guiding the Wise Men,” grid founder Walter Balazic told Hypergrid Business.
The Luminaria region will be lined with luminaria — candles held inside small sand-filled paper bags.
“There will be a dazzling display of lights and stars to decorate the sparkling white winter landscape,” Balazic said. In additions, visitors can enjoy ice skating and dancing, with free ice sakes and warm winter clothes available. The event is open to hypergrid visitors, who should teleport to lfgrid.com:8002:Luminaria.
Several in-world merchants have begun to offer lines of mesh clothing, including AW and Amy Storm’s stores.
“Unfortunately, these are licensed items and templates from content creators outside the grid, and to abide by their licensing agreements they are only available to members of Littlefield Grid,” said Balazic. “They cannot be brought to other grids.”
The grid also has a full calendar of live music, art and other events planned for this month.
Island Oasis debuts new welcome region, website, and region prices
Island Oasis has revamped its website, its starting region for new residents, and upgraded the grid to the latest version of OpenSim, including support for groups and BulletSim physics.
The grid has updated its land prices slightly, with the cost of a 40,000-prim region going up from US $60 to $65 a month. A Second Life-standard region of 15,000 prims is now $35 a month — previously, the closest equivalent was a 20,000-prim region for $30 a month. There is also now a $25 one-time setup fee for any new region purchase. Region owners who purchased their regions under earlier plans are grandfathered in, and will be able to continue under the previous pricing structure.
Region owners will get perks, however, including monthly in-world currency stipends and free landscape regions after six consecutive months of land rentals.
Meanwhile, stay on top of Island Oasis events by checking its online calendar. This week, there is a Trivia Mania party on Friday with DJ Gem, and a Best in Black party on Saturday.
Avalonia Estate focuses on its lifestyle niche
Avalonia Estate, an adult-only grid serving the Femdom community, is doubling-down on its business strategy. While other grid typically focus on reaching out to the general population of existing OpenSim or Second Life users, Avalonia is expanding its focus on the Femdom niche through a marketing partnership with Men Submit, an online Femdom community.
“We are providing them with space in world to provide a ‘physical’ virtual home for their large ready made FLR — Female Led Relationship/Lifestyle — community so they can run classes, provide information about their books and in-world discussions and talks,” grid owner Justin Ireman told Hypergrid Business. “And in return they are going to promote us to their community, with the possibility of me being invited to a podcast to talk about Avalonia Estate and virtual worlds and exploring Femdom in them.”
As part of its intensified focus, the grid is taking addition steps to ensure that minor cannot get access to adult materials on the grid. This includes a charge of GBP £1 for new membership applications and changing access permissions so that hypergrid visitors cannot enter adult regions.
In addition, the grid deleting some user accounts, which will result in a drop in total registered users in the monthly statistics. This is an unusual step, since most grids don’t delete user accounts, even ones that have been dormant for a long time.
But Avalonia is not a typical grid.
“Our goal is not to aim for the maximum amount of users that we can, but aim for the ‘right kind’ of user,” said Ireman. “In line with this philosophy I am removing the accounts of those we deem to be dormant accounts, or those of individuals who we have deemed not to be in line with the type of user we are aiming for.”
In particular, the grid is looking for people interested in being long-term members of the community, not those looking for a quick sexual thrill.
Those interested in become members need to submit an application, for example, and demonstrate to the grid administrators that they are serious. Parts of the grid are open to hypergrid visitors, however, for those interested in learning more about the grid.
For more of this month’s events, check out the Metropolis Events Calendar, the FrancoGrid Events Calendar, the Avination Events Calendar, the InWorldz Events Calendar (free registration required), and the 3rd Rock Grid Events Calendar.