That's because the Blue Mars land leasing system is rumored to be not only simpler to use, but cheaper than the Second Life tier system.
Starved for competition for so long, Second Life might not be able to compete with an upstart new virtual world unless it re-evaluates its business model and gets back into fighting shape.
The Expanding Fishbowl
Second Life may be growing at a steady clip, but increased competition from virtual environments like OpenSim and Blue Mars over the next few years means Linden Lab's position as a dominant world is no longer the unquestioned force it once was. Both OpenSim and Blue Mars offer different variations on land ownership, and both are taking aim at Second Life's costly tier system.
The cost of owning an island in Second Life is very real. Residents can expect to shell out up to $1,000 in initial purchase fees, as well as up to $295 in monthly maintenance fees. By comparison, the Blue Mars "renting" system is expected to cost only 50% of Second Life's fees – however, the final figures are still under a non-disclosure agreement.
OpenSim is the runaway bargain in virtual land. Ranging from free to a few hundred dollars for regions equivalent in size to Second Life land masses, OpenSim provides a low-cost alternative to the Second Life system.
The question is: How long can Second Life keep its tier and land purchasing rates at their current levels before users begin moving to new worlds with cheaper costs and – in the case of Blue Mars – standardized development tools?
Voices of Discontent
The discussion in favor of altering land rates has found a home on the Second Life forum earlier this month, providing an interesting case study in the attitudes of Linden Lab's consumers. While many are unhappy with the current tier costs, few expect the honchos over at Linden to do anything until they feel the burn of lost business.
By then, however, it could be too late. We wrote a piece recently about the perils of being a monopoly in an emergent field like virtual worlds that discussed when customers will leave one provider for another. After discussion on both our Facebook Fan Page and in our comments section, readers seemed to agree that the exodus from Second Life would only occur if a new provider offered a better platform and lower rates.
Unfortunately for Second Life, two growing competitors are offering just that. While Linden Lab may not experience one decisive blow to its customer base, the rise of competitors and Linden Lab's unwillingness to adjust rates in response to changing realities will slowly bleed the company of its creative base.
What happens then?