There has been a rather steep decline in the number of private sims. This was reported by Tyche Shepard of the Grid Survey and has been picked up by several bloggers. This is to be expected given the state of the RL economy. More distressing is that concurrency is also down, this is not expected! There is nothing quite like unemployment to give you time in world (I know, I have been there).
Looking at comments in other blogs there seems to be 2 main areas of concern:
1- Tier – Many people have suggested lowering tier so land was more affordable. Tateru and Inara explain why that is just a bad idea better than I can. It is paramount to demanding less taxes and more services in RL. Ain’t happenin’.
Now, my own self-serving idea is that we should have a larger land allowance with our premium account. Maybe that would actually entice more people to go premium (could not work worse than occasional gifts and access to LL’s wilderness build). Of course the land barons would bitch, but I have never been especially sympathetic to their plight.
2- Marketplace – Now here is a good idea truly badly implemented! There has been a huge loss in land usage as more and more stores close in favor of selling via Marketplace only. You need only follow the links in marketplace to “see item in world” to find that many of them lead to empty plots or non-existent sims.
As I commented on New World Notes:
Why I like stores in SL:
1- Shopping is part of the shared user experience, or in other words, community. I will frequently say hi to other shoppers — used to be they would say hi back.
2- Shops, especially on the mainland, are in neighborhoods or malls. I can not tell you the number of times I have gone to a shop for something only to find something completely different that I did not even know I wanted in a neighboring shop 🙂
3- Shopping in stores exposes you to the goods displayed in an environment that gives you a feel for the pride in craftsmanship and ability of the creator.
My solution for marketplace is to change the pricing structure. Have a listing fee, something like L$100, and charge a Delivery Fee to the customer. Back that up with an in world vendor system that would sell from marketplace without the delivery fee and, if it was priced carefully, many creators would find in world stores worth while again.
It is certain that some kind of action is called for before a temporary setback evolves into a trend.