Nearly 200 free regions have already been given out, company owner Alexsandro Pomposelli told Hypergrid Business — 65 on AviWorlds and 117 on AviBrasil — and the infrastructure for the promotion is already in place.
Those interested in the free regions should contact resident with the avatar name “Logan Hunter” on either of the two grids, he said.
Pomposelli did not say whether there is a cap on the number of free regions that will be available.
Existing paying region owners are being switched over to the free hosting.
“I have cancelled all subscriptions that were related to regular 15,000-prim private regions,” he said. Owners of variable-sized regions will continue to be charged for their rentals for the time being.
Each free region will hold up to 15,000 prims and up to as many as 100 simultaneous visitors.
The free regions are a result of corporate sponsorships, he said.
“We are getting a soft drink maker and a beer company and a bank company,” he said. However, he declined to disclose their names.
“Not mentioning that yet until their ads go up in-world,” he said.
He said that the free regions are expected to increase the number of users of the grid, which will help attract a new source of revenue independent of hosting fees.
“The more people in-world, the more valuable is our ad space,” he said.
AviWorlds is currently reporting 2,678 active users, and AviBrasil, which only launched a month ago, is reporting 128.
Pomposelli said that he is considering extending the free offer to larger region sizes.
“As we go deeper into this sponsorship business model we may even offer variable-sized regions for free, but sponsor advertisements would have to placed on these regions,” he said.
Traditional advertising typically does not work well in virtual worlds because the cost of supporting new users is significantly higher than advertising revenues. Web sites, on the other hand, require significantly less bandwidth and computing capacity.
In addition, CTO Josh Boam has expressed concerns about being able to support the new regions.
“What you offer is too much for our small team to deal with,” he said in a comment two days ago, adding that he is considering leaving.
As of last night, however, he had not yet made a decision due to problems communicating with Pomposelli.
“I really have no idea as I’m still not able to have an official conversation with him in a while,” he told Hypergrid Business.
No more new grid customers?
Avi-Labs will continue to run those four grids, but will not accept new customers, said Pomposelli.
“I have made a decision to not host any more grids except for the ones we already have,” he said. “We will concentrate on AviWorlds and AviBrasil, and we will maintain hosting services for the Sinful Grid and Loff Virtual Worlds.”
He added that AviWorlds and AviBrasil, currently two separate grids, will become a little bit more integrated in the future.
“I am going to rebuild the website which will be a synergy between AviWorlds and AviBrasil,” he said.
AviWorlds has seen a large number of technical problems and other issues. In particular, Pomposelli has walked away from the grid several times, shutting it down without notice, leaving residents in the lurch. The grid is now in its eighth incarnation.
As a result, I recommend that if people do decide to become customers, that they not invest more money than they can afford to lose, that they make sure to get plenty of backups of all their builds and other content, and that they have a backup plan in place in case there is another outage, or if the grid closes again.