The first thing to note when it comes to issues surrounding tier payments is that Linden Lab have to pay their bills, they have to pay their staff and in order to pay their staff and maximise their income they need tier payments as they remain the largest slice of the income pudding. Therefore there are no easy answers to the tier issue. However tier remains an issue that stifles devel0pment.
Content creators have the Marketplace whereby they can sell their wares in a low risk environment. This is great, it means people can create content without having to worry if they’re going to meet tier and they only get dinged for fees if they sell an item and even then, the fee is low at 5%. However there are other costs for content creators that should not be ignored. Software, training, hardware and time, let’s not forget that time is money, but content creators do have a place where they can offer their wares without the worry of upfront fees for using Second Life.
I’ve posted before how the rise of The Marketplace has came at the cost of hurting something to do sims, because merchants used to rent space to merchants to help subsidise those something to do ventures. There has been a trade off, The Marketplace has pro’s and cons for Second Life as a whole but in the main, I support it, it’s also easier for customers to find items on the Marketplace, so it’s not just of benefit to merchants, but there is a cost associated with this. However I can recall in days gone by, people discussing in the Second Life forums how they were discouraged from creating content because of tier or rental costs, so The Marketplace certainly helps with a wide range of diverse content being available, it should also be noted that one of the complaints in the past was that Second Life had too many malls and stores and not enough something to do places.
Many Marketplace merchants, it should be noted, have an inworld presence and do have tier worries, but The Marketplace is a place they can engage without tier worries. When it comes to the arts, there’s no Marketplace option, but there is the Linden Endownment for the Arts. Inara Pey recently covered the fact that applications are now open to apply for land there, the applications are still open. The LEA have around thirty regions, twenty of which are available via these applications for inworld artists to display their wares for five or six months, Linden Lab donate these regions.
The number of LEA regions is nowhere near enough to satisfy the huge range of diverse art installations that Second Life could attract, but it’s better than nothing. However many in the artistic community are in the position merchants were before the rise of The Marketplace, tier and rental costs stifle engagement.