Bright Canopy To Launch August 29th With Experimental Pricing Plan

Image for Bright Canopy

Bright Canopy, seen by many as the successor to the SL Go from Onlive, have announced that they will be officially launching on August 29th :

After much work and preparation and tremendous help from the community testing our offering, we are proud to announce the launch of the full Bright Canopy service.

LAUNCH DATE: August 29th

EARLY BIRD PRICE: $17 per month*

BRING A FRIEND: Sign-up a friend and both you, and your friend, earn free time.

EAST COAST CLOUD: We will also be adding a brand-new, US. East Coast cloud, for faster ping times!

The asterisk next to the price is important, because the pricing will initially be experimental.

Bright Canopy

In the blog post, Bill Glover explains :

Our early bird price is going to be an experiment for 90 days. If you’ve been following the blog, you know we’ve seen price fluctuations on the back end, and we still need to watch actual usage of the service. $17 is a sustainable price if the instance costs return to their typical, historical values. It is not a sustainable price with the current spike in instance price. We may need to get creative with how we split instances, or we may need to raise prices. We intend to remain transparent as always and will keep you posted. Our goal is to continue to maintain a sustainable, affordable service.

The transparency here regarding the pricing is something to be admired. Pricing has been seen as the big barrier to streaming services such as Second Life. Pricing was something that SL Go from OnLive struggled with and it’s something that even the Lindens have admitted is tricky when it comes to offering streaming services.

At SL12B Linden Lab CEO Ebbe Altberg was asked about Linden Lab providing a streaming service, his reply put the issue of pricing firmly at the heart of the discussion :

Streaming (render on the server) is interesting but the issue is cost. The day will come but we’re not there yet. Between nVidia, Amazon, Microsoft etc. hopefully the competition will drive pricing down soon to make it something we can offer at a price that users are willing to pay to make it worthwhile.

Therefore the approach from Bright Canopy is most definitely a sensible one.

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Can Linden Lab Strike Licensing Relationships For Second Life?

Just over a year ago I blogged : Could Linden Lab Follow Amazon’s Lead In Fan Based Creativity? This was based on Amazon’s Kindle Worlds deal whereby they had struck deals for people to be able to write, publish and sell fan fiction via Amazon.

A year is a long time for my memory these days, but I was reminded of this issue when I read a press release from Linden Lab relating to Blocksworld.  The press release though does not appear on the Linden Lab website, it comes courtesy of Gamasutra and carries a headline of Blocksworld Adds MY LITTLE PONY Sets. Part of the press release states :

The new sets are the result of a licensing relationship with Hasbro, Inc., through which Linden Lab also recently added TRANSFORMERS characters to Blocksworld.

So apparently, Linden Lab have negotiated a deal with Hasbro for this content to exist in Blocksworld. Now of course Blocksworld is very different to Second Life and the content is more strictly managed. However Linden Lab may be able to agree terms to sell content from a Linden Lab store, whereby approved creators submit content. They may even require sim owners to apply to be able to place and buy said content. In short, they may be able to take a leaf out of their skill gaming policy and have approved creators and users of said licensed content.

However the last thing a roleplay sim needs is an increased tier fee, so it’s not straight forward, on the other hand, it should be feasible in some form for Linden Lab to find a way to allow users to make and use licensed content within Second Life.

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Forget PIOF, New Marketplace Merchants Should Provide Tax documentation

Over the last few weeks Linden Lab have announced some changes for account holders. The first, back on November 11th was that new marketplace merchants would be required to put payment info on file before being able to open a store.

The second was more recently, on November 19th Linden Lab blogged about required tax documentation. These issues aren’t linked but I feel they should be and in doing so, Linden Lab would be killing two birds with one stone.

Wait wait wait, the tax documentation is only for those who have gross income of USD$20,000 and make 200 transactions in a calendar year, right? Well not quite, the tax documentation is certainly required if people meet that threshold, but at that point Linden Lab will file a 1099-K with the IRS, the documentation is required for Linden Lab to be able to file a 1099-K, but Linden Lab can ask for this information anyway.

Amazon do this with Kindle Direct Publishing. I haven’t yet published my international best seller and award winning novel, but if I wanted to do that via KDP, I have to fill out a W8-BEN for Amazon to file. The W8-BEN is the non US Citizen equivalent of a W9 form. When I logged into KDP today I saw this:

An Image Should Be Here
Tax Information Incomplete

The missing account information was soon revealed to me after I clicked Update Now:

An Image Should Be Here
Update tax Information

You may need to squint to read that so I’ll type it:

Amazon is required by US tax regulations to request information regarding your tax status under US law. Required US tax identification and information has not yet been submitted. Complete your tax information to begin selling on Amazon.

Let’s just bold that last sentence to emphasise the point: “Complete your tax information to begin selling on Amazon.” So that’s before I’ve sold a single book, before I’m anywhere near 200 transactions, indeed it prevents me from making 1 transaction.

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Could Linden Lab Follow Amazon’s Lead In Fan Based Creativity?

I was reading an article over at New World Notes: Attack on Titan Fan Game in Second Life Attacked by Attack on Titan Publisher? This is an old concept, Second Life creators create world or roleplay based on a known product for which they don’t appear to have rights to do so. Here’s the thing, Attack on Titan is something I’d never heard of until I read Hamlet’s article. Obviously we all can’t know about everything, but the franchise gets free publicity via usage in Second Life.

Now of course Intellectual Property rights are a very important area and publishers need to ensure they maintain their rights, so ignoring IP is not a clever thing to do, no matter how much free publicity it brings to a franchise. However I’ve long maintained that companies should consider the potential of Second Life and the realites of what Second Life creators can afford, and come to a compromise that is sensible. This isn’t an easy thing to do, but Amazon have a model that could potentially be expanded to virtual worlds.

Kindle Worlds is the Amazon model, it’s where fan fiction can be published. There is a criteria but here’s some of the blurb:

Welcome to Kindle Worlds, a place for you to publish fan fiction inspired by popular books, shows, movies, comics, music, and games. With Kindle Worlds, you can write new stories based on featured Worlds, engage an audience of readers, and earn royalties. Amazon Publishing has secured licenses from Warner Bros. Television Group’s Alloy Entertainment for Gossip Girl, Pretty Little Liars, and The Vampire Diaries; Valiant Entertainment for Archer & Armstrong, Bloodshot, Harbinger, Shadowman, and X-O Manowar; Hugh Howey’s Silo Saga; Barry Eisler’s John Rain novels; Blake Crouch’s Wayward Pines series; and The Foreworld Saga by Neal Stephenson, Greg Bear, Mark Teppo, Eric Bear, Joseph Brassey, Nicole Galland, and Cooper Moo. Licenses for more Worlds are on the way.

Now Amazon Kindle is a completely different platform to Second Life and has less of the chaotic nature of Second Life, as once published, a story is published, but the idea, bring licensed products to a user generated content platform is something that Linden Lab should investigate.

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Linden Lab Launch Another Amazon Offer

Wounded, but not out, Linden Lab have decided to launch another Amazon adventure (that’s Amazon the company, not the wilderness) with an announcement on the blog, which you can read here. This time the blog post contains more information about how the offer works, which is good to see.

This time lucky participants can pick up a hoverboard bonus pack for free until January 29th, the hoverboard bonus pack usually goes for USD$12.95, details of the offer can be found here. In order to claim your free hoverboard you will need to link your Second Life and Amazon accounts, utilising the Amazon game connect feature, which is aimed at free to play MMO’s generally, but as there’s no suitable place for Second Life, which is a Multi User Virtual Environment, it goes in the free to play games section. This is an Amazon issue, not a Linden Lab issue, they’re fitting these offers in the most suitable category.

At least this blog post explains that the offer is only available to customers based in the United States Of America (Boooooo!). Again, this is an Amazon issue, not a Linden Lab issue.

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