The Cost of Land vs. The Perception of Value
Land in SL is Cheap!
Since I first joined SL in 2005, right up to today, one of the most common complaints I've heard from SL users is that land is too expensive in Second Life. What's more, this is considered to be one of the biggest obstacles to SL's mainstream success.
Now, don't get me wrong, if LL dropped the price of land then I'm sure they'd see a huge uptick in landowners. My position is simply that land is not as expensive as people realize because pretty much nobody is enjoying the full value of the land they're paying for and I see this as a much bigger issue than the actual cost of land.
Let me show you something.
This is a small skybox I threw together recently. To give you an idea of the size of this skybox, my 6' tall avatar is present in both screenshots, can you find me?
How much land impact do you think this skybox uses? How much land area? Most importantly, how much do you think this skybox costs me in tier?
At the time these screenshots were taken, I was using a grand total of 481 land impact points. This skybx could fit on a parcel only slightly larger than 2048sq.m. In other words, you could own a piece of SL like this for a mere $3.71 a month.
"Wait!", you tell me, "A 2048sq.m. parcel costs $15 a month in tier!"
Here's the thing, if you set up a premium account you get 512sq.m. of tier with that. A premium account costs $72 a year, but if you cash out the L$300 a week stipend you're only paying $11.13 a year for the account. If you set up four premium accounts, that amounts to $44.52 a year (which is only $3.71 a month) for all four accounts and 2048sq.m. of tier between them.
In addition to that, if you lump their combined tier into a group you get an extra 10% bonus tier, so you're actually getting 2253sq.m. of tier for $3.71 a month.
Of course, this still leaves the issue of how did I cram so much into only 2048sq.m. and less than 500 prims?
That just boils down to building to scale and being smart about what you want to rez on your land.
A 30LI Greco-Roman statue just isn't worth the prims when you can get statues just as good looking for 1-10LI. The same goes for chairs, beds, and everything else.
All my usual points about building to scale stand, especially in the age of mesh. When you have a mesh house that is double scale, when you shrink it down to 1=1 size you also reduce its land impact cost down to 1/2 or even 1/4th of its original impact cost. Almost all mesh content can have its LI cost reduced in this way, from chairs and statues to castles and space stations.
And, of course, if you toss LL's badly set up camera defaults for more modern camera settings, and reduce your avatar from 7-8' tall down to 5-6' tall, it makes the world around you seem much, much larger.
This is what I see as the big problem for land in SL. Very, very few people realize they can get this kind of value for their money, or even if they realize it's possible they often wouldn't know how to do it themselves. How many people would rush to own land in SL if they realized they could get all this for a few dollars a month and it was easy for them to do so?
From LL's perspective, 2048sq.m. costs them just as much to host no matter what you rez on it.So LL gains nothing from this situation. Worse yet, those who are unwilling to spend more than $5-10 a month on SL land yet feel what you get for that is not enough because of this deflated sense of value ultimately opt not to purchase land at all, so LL has lost all of those potential landowners. People willing to spend $5 a month on land vastly outnumber those willing to spend $300. If LL could show people just how much they could get for that, they would see a huge increase in landowners.
Of course, LL being LL, I'm not going to hold my breath on that. However, you, dear reader, now know how to get crazy amounts of value for your monthly tier.