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It’s now been five and a half years since one of Second Life’s more enduring and repeated feature requests was made: sandboxes for premium account holders.

This week, they became one of two new benefits for both premium account-holders and for non-premium concierge customers.

Second Life Premium accounts already have a number of benefits – though one person’s benefit is another person’s “meh”, so just how beneficial the benefits are vary depending on who you are.

Premium accounts get a weekly Linden Dollar stipend (and if you’re from ~2005 or earlier, the amount you get is enough to pay for your premium account each year, and turn a profit), the ability to hold “mainland” land, and 512sqm of gratis tier, the opportunity to take your troubles to support and sometimes get a result, and access to a “Linden Home” if you want it.

Now, two more have been added: Premium-only gifts, and premium-only sandboxes.

While it says premium only, Linden Lab spokesperson, Peter Gray, assures me that these two benefits are also extended to non-premium, “concierge” customers. Concierge customers are the ones who really spend big in Second Life, and have the largest amounts invested in land, either mainland holdings, or private estates. You don’t, however, have to be a premium account-holder to have a private estate. Gray said that they would, however, be included with these new benefits. And so they should be; they’re certainly paying more than the rest of us.

Premium-only sandboxes have been much-requested since 2006. While Second Life’s sandbox areas have always been places imbued with a certain amount of interesting chaos, after about 2006 they increasingly became hubs for unauthorised combats, black markets, homes for pornography and thuggery, and… well, just plain too crowded to work in, much of the time. I’m not certain that premium-only sandboxes will necessarily represent the improvement in experience that is so longed-for by those that have been requesting them for all of these years, but it’ll be interesting to find out.

Additionally, there’s a premium-only gift, somewhat analogous to the subscriber rewards that many MMOGs have. Eligible Second Life users can visit a special kiosk and receive whatever the current gift is. The first one is a lounge suite. While my reaction is initially rather lukewarm about this, the fact is that Linden Lab can afford to pay some very generous sums to commission or use works for the gift programme. If the programme is successful, there’s no reason that it couldn’t pay more. That could attract some sterling work, and in-turn make the programme more attractive. It isn’t clear how often gifts will be cycled, but monthly seems like a good bet.

The Lab says that there are more benefits planned. For that, we shall have to wait and see.

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