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Lately there’s been increasing calls for tier-fees and the per-monthly cost of estate simulators to be reduced by Linden Lab – especially with the Lab pointing out that Q1 2011 was their most successful quarter to-date. Now that’s all fine and dandy, but the question is, what are you all ready to give up to get it?

Like most businesses, Linden Lab doesn’t accumulate its profits and place them in a large pile next to the break-room. If they did, you’d have already seen photos of it on flickr. Maybe someone planking on top of the heap. Either way, you’d know about it.

Those profits get ploughed back in to pay for more doing-stuffery next quarter. Money gets made, and it gets spent on all of the stuff that Linden Lab does – that the Lab did yesterday, that the Lab is doing today, and that the Lab is doing tomorrow.

So, if you want lower tier fees, or if you want a class of sim-holders (educators, for example) to get ongoing discounts, you have to be prepared to agree to one of two things:

  • An increase in some kind of fees to everyone else, or..
  • The Lab doing less for Second Life.

So, what’ll it be? Fewer bug-fixes? Slower software releases? Less support? Slower abuse-report handling? The Lab does a lot of things to keep Second Life running. Which of those expenses would you prefer that it cut back on? And which things would you choose that would end up being a deal-breaker for a lot of other users? Maybe we could just settle for Linden Lab getting a whole lot less done for us than we hope for (although some might say that this is already true).

Now, before you suddenly jump up and say “Wait! All these savings could easily be had by doing things more efficiently!” let me remind you that it’s easy to say but really quite a lot harder in practice to actually do.

Dilbert.com

Maybe the Lab could be running far more efficiently than it is (you could say that of any company, really) – but maybe it wouldn’t end up being anywhere near significant at the end of the day. I’m not privy to its goings-on, and neither are most of us.

Like it or not, lower tier-fees are a simple arithmetic problem. If you want to pay less, less stuff gets paid for.

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