AviWorlds changes business model again

(Image courtesy AviWorlds.)

I should just cut-and-paste that headline every month.

Okay, so….

AviWorlds has a new website and new sky-high land prices. A 15,000-prim region is now $65, for a grid with almost no users, not much content, and a history of shutting down and losing user content on a regular basis.

Meanwhile, the average price of a region in OpenSim is $15. And that includes the most stable, reliable, and trustworthy grids in the metaverse.

AviWorlds seems to be going after the premium closed grid market without actually having a premium grid.

Meanwhile, there already is a premium closed grid in OpenSim — the Tag Grid — which not only has standard regions at $15 a month each, but also has OpenSim’s leading — and, frankly, only — closed grid content marketplace. There are more than 21,000 items in the Tag Grid Marketplace.

If I was looking for a closed grid — and a lot of people are — Tag is the grid I would go with because its the biggest. It has the most people and the most stuff. I just checked my records, and I’ve got monthly stats for Tag going all the way back to 2014. And this month, the grid reported 1,753 active users. It seems to have become the closed grid of choice for InWorldz refugees.

Meanwhile, AviWorlds reported 498 active users this month. That’s not a bad showing at all. But it’s not $65 worth.

Alexsandro Pomposelli

AviWorlds grid owner Alexsandro Pomposelli is, as always, weirdly optimistic about his new plan.

“We charge now a lot of money but less than Second Life,” he told Hypergrid Business. “Closed hypergrid. This time it is forever. No more changing. I never really liked hypergrid anyway.”

So what do you get for the money? Pomposelli claims that the $65 regions will have better performance than the $15 regions OpenSim users get everywhere else.

“AviWorlds will not place more than five regions per server,” he said. “Sometimes even only three. We will be giving true quality instead of cheap fake region prices that will have problems one day. A grid that sells a $5 region must fill up its server with at least 20 or more regions. All you need is ten avatars coming into that server and it will have huge memory issues.”
AviWorlds will not compete with these cheap grids, he said.

“We will be, alongside Second Life, as a second home away from home,” he said. “But cheaper but stronger because we don’t have Second Life’s overhead costs.”

He said he plans to offer premium accounts that will come with a free land parcel.

And he’s taking another pricing cue from Second Life.

“We are charging for uploads and group creations,” he said.

Most OpenSim grids offer this functionality for free. In fact, off the top of my head, I can’t think of another grid that charges for this. Maybe some super-premium, invite-only roleplaying grid somewhere.

Pomposelli has told me before that he believes high region prices are good because it creates opportunities for land barons — people who buy large areas of land, subdivide them, and rent out the parcels.

“We already sold four regions that are going to be rental business,” he told me earlier today. “So it’s going great.”

It’s not clear why someone would rent a land parcel on a grid with a history of going down frequently, and losing user content, without an in-world marketplace or a large community — when for the same money they can get a whole region somewhere else.

Poposelli said that he expects to lose some users as a result of the new plan.

“Traffic will go down due to the non-payers running away to free everything grids that don’t last,” he said.

That’s ironic, since the biggest free grid out there — OSgrid — not only allows people to connect home-based regions for free, but has been around since the dawn of OpenSim more than ten years ago. Meanwhile, Kitely, the biggest commercial grid by land area, has been around since 2011 and has a perfect uptime record, as well a giant online marketplace that delivers to hundreds of other grids. Its regions are $15 each, and are some of the most stable and high-performing regions in OpenSim, since they run on the Amazon cloud. To keep prices low, the regions are shut down and stored away when nobody is on them. And, of course, content uploads and groups are free, and residents are free to travel via hypergrid to other grids.

An hour later, he had an update for me.

“We have sold six regions,” he said. “AviWorlds is starting to make some money and this is good. Not like the free grids that are closing each day because they do not have money and are amateur. Not serious enough.”

Again, the top hypergrid-enabled grids in OpenSim have been around for years.

To add insult to injury, Pomposelli is also asking for donations to support the grid.

If readers want to donate money to help OpenSim, skip his donation page. Go straight to OSgrid, which is having a big fundraiser this month. OSgrid is the largest OpenSim grid by land area, by registered users, and by active users, and is all run by volunteers. Not only can residents connect home-hosted regions for free, which is a big service to the OpenSim community right there by itself, but OSgrid is also a testing ground for OpenSim developers. Because of its size, OSgrid is a great place to stress test new features.

Many hosting companies have been launched by starting out selling regions on OSgrid. And some successful commercial grids started out as OSgrid communities.

Plus, when I’m showing people around OpenSim and want to take them to a place where I know there will be people, I take them to OSgrid’s LBSA Plaza region. The hypergrid address is hg.osgrid.org:80:lbsa plaza.

Stay safe

Please remember that virtual worlds aren’t banks. Your virtual currency deposits aren’t federally insured. So don’t keep more money in your virtual wallet than you can afford to lose.

If you want to have an avatar and land on AviWorlds, protect yourself. Keep local backups of your content. When you make friends, make sure you have some way to reach them outside the grid, in case AviWorlds shuts down again and your friends list disappears.

I used to recommend that people keep their primary avatar on another grid, such as OSgrid, Kitely, or Digiworldz, and teleport into AviWorlds for events. That way, your inventories, friends lists, and virtual wallets are located somewhere reliable and if AviWorlds goes down, you won’t lose everything.

For most grids, hypergrid traffic is a good thing. Visitors can attend events and visit stores, spending real money, and the grid doesn’t have to pay to store all their stuff. Some grids even rent out land to hypergrid visitors. And why not? Their money is as good as anyone’s. Plus, visitors don’t have to create a brand-new avatar to visit the grid. Creating new avatars is a giant pain.

That’s not how Pomposelli sees it, of course.

“My thinking is that if I’m getting 700 avatars traffic per month in the grid and these avatars are all from other grids coming into AviWorlds so they can grab content, this is not a good thing,” he said. “Each avatar that comes into our grid takes about 250 MBs of memory space in our server. I’m not going to pay for servers for other grids’ users.”

Am I being trolled here? Is Pomposelli just doing crazy stuff to get publicity? And if he is, is that really a bad thing? Can’t we all use a chuckle or two after all the real news happing in the world today?

Maria Korolov