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Expiration date

The version of Second Life we’re using today has an expiration date. Sometime in 2016, as Linden Labs new CEO has recently revealed, it will be replaced by its succeeding virtual incarnation, already popularly known as Second Life 2.0 in the blogosphere. Since the first one launched in the summer of 2003, let’s think SL2 might be available by the summer of 2016. That leaves us with little less than two years to enjoy our current creations, but as everybody knows, time flies, so better start preparing for the impending doom, no? That is, supposing SL2 is really an improvement over the actual one, and knowing LL as we all do,  that supposition is, in the best case scenario, a hope/-ful/-less pledge.

When that announcement was made my first question was: then, is it worth buying land right now? You know, because acquiring a plot in SL is a real investment, and taking into consideration all the money some people ask for a prim farm these days, you should ponder if that expenditure is worth what you’re going to do in a two-year stay, because when SL2 opens, SL1 will probably lose all of its value. Or would SL1 be around as a legacy product, and for how long? More importantly, would you like to stay behind? What I would really want to know is, would there be a mechanism of some sort to allow transferring our SL1 belongings along with the rights of any land we own to the new platform? Would we get some kind of vouch that we would be able to redeem in the new virtual, yet still American frontier, or would we have to start from nada?

As a buyer, my real concern is what should I pay for land in SL nowadays, taking into account the given expiration notice. The most sound answer I’ve come up with so far is this: whatever comes close to what I would pay in rent over the course of two years on a rented parcel of equal size. For example: Why should I pay L$50,000 for a 512 sq.m. plot? Yes that seems to be an average price for a waterfront parcel in a prominent mainland area in the hands of a reselling company right now (or L$190,000 for a 1024 sq.m. one in an exclusive neighborhood such as Bay City). That has always been an outrageous sum of money from my point of view, undoubtedly. But see: I’m currently paying L$250 a week (that includes owner’s earnings of course) for a plot like that, and I even get a discount if I pay monthly (L$940 instead of L$1000). In two years, L$250 amounts to L$26,000 (with the discount, it’s L$22,560 only). Basically, should that be the standard price for a premium parcel like that? (A protected waterfront lot is like the top of the line for most accounts).

Are there any other elements that may impact the base value of a plot? Certainly, I would say. When I’ve been looking for land in mainland, I’ve taken into consideration –from a personal perspective–several “likabilities” for my future property, such as:

  • Location: Is the plot in a nice place? Are the buildings around it acceptable or even good-looking? Is the neighborhood any good? Does it look like a stable area, or does it show signs of instability?
  • Desirability: Do I really like the place? Do I really want to live here? Would others like it, you know in case I decide to sell the place later on to move to a different location?
  • Utility: Would I be able to build in here what I have in mind? Is it the right plot or the right neighborhood for such venture, or should I look elsewhere?
  • Scarcity/availability: Are there any other and better places I would like to live instead of here? How many? Where are they located? Is this parcel like one in a million?
  • “Trasferability”: Would the plot sell quickly if I don’t want it anymore? Will I be able –at least– to recover my initial investment?
  • “Sociability”: Would my build look good in here or would it disturb the neighborhood? Would I be welcome or despise? (Alas, it seems not many people ask themselves that question, but for me it weights on my decision to buy a parcel or not).

There are probably more variables to add to the equation, but how do we calculate the value of each of them and how do they add to the final price? Will they amount to the L$24,000 difference between what some people are asking for and what I calculate –and maybe esteem– as a “reliable” and fair price in practical terms?

I actually wonder, is it worth buying land right now, or is renting a better –or even the only– option, now that SL1 is only best before 2016?

In the picture: My immediate vicinity with all its “imperfections,” such as a low altitude skybox, and several styles of equally obnoxious privacy screens in all their glory. Yet, I think it’s a nice neighborhood by mainland standards. Isn’t it? My property is mostly hidden from view in this shot due to one of the said privacy menaces.