While the growth of Second Life new-user registrations remains steady, as do active users, the number of premium accounts in Linden Lab's virtual world had entered into an accelerating decline, last time we had any data available to us. This is hardly surprising, as tweaks to the land-centric Second Life economy over time had largely eliminated the need for many users to have a premium-account.
The Lab is announcing the creation of a new continent (name and location not known at present), which will contain a number of unfurnished homes on 512sqm parcels of restricted-use land that do not share a border with the parcels of other users.
A limited number of these will be offered to randomly-selected, existing Second Life premium-account holders. Plans include the possibility that a smaller number of new premium-account holders may also be selected for this test, but that is yet to be determined.
If the beta-test period goes well, Linden Lab plans to roll the new program out to include all premium-account holders as an additional benefit of a premium subscription.
As premium-account incentives go, this one isn't really very surprising. Rummaging through our notes, it is in fact the third similar house/land package incentive that Linden Lab has offered since 2005. There are a few differences in specifics and eligibility, but that's about all. Previous such incentive programs didn't do awfully well in the medium- and long-term, but circumstances change. In the new economy, the program may be more successful.
The new parcels will not be able to be sold, terraformed, subdivided or joined and cannot be the targets of classified ads or of events listings. They will be limited to one per premium-account.
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