Billing System Finally In Place

After several postponements, and getting many suggestions from the community, we’ve finally rolled out our billing system today. This is a major milestone for Kitely because it puts us on the path to financial sustainability. To our users, this provides the assurance that you will be able to have all the resources you need to create and build your virtual worlds, without having to contact us every time you run out of KC.

Over the many months we’ve been in beta, people have frequently inquired regarding monthly subscriptions, free options and unlimited plans. We’ve worked hard to accommodate all of your wishes in a way that works with our business model. We hope you will be pleased with our solution.

Minutes and Kitely Credits

There are now two forms of currency: Minutes and Kitely Credits.

Minutes are used to pay for the time you spend inside virtual worlds. For each minute you spend in a world we subtract one Minute from your account. Your Minutes are non-transferable and can’t be shared with other users.

If you run out of Minutes then you can continue visiting virtual worlds if you have KC in your account: when that happens, for each minute you spend in a world we subtract one KC from your account. If you run out of both Minutes and KC then you can no longer visit virtual worlds (except for worlds made available for free access by other Kitely users, see details below).

Kitely Credits (KC) are used to pay for various services, such as copying and exporting worlds. In the future, we will enable you to use KC for virtual commerce as well.

You get Minutes and KC by subscribing to a monthly plan, or by buying KC separately. These methods are explained below. In addition, you can earn free Minutes by bringing in new users to Kitely (see details in our FAQ).

Monthly Plans

Each user has a monthly Plan. The plan determines how many Minutes and KC you get each month. KC accumulate from one month to the next. Minutes do not accumulate between months: they are reset at the beginning of each month.

Each plan also includes a certain number of free worlds that you can create. Each additional world you create beyond your plan’s quota costs 1 KC per day.

New users are automatically placed on the Free Plan. This plan includes 120 Minutes per month and 1 free world. This means that anyone can start creating their own virtual world on Kitely without having to take out their wallet and, if they are casual users, they can continue to have their own virtual world on Kitely for free. In addition, it means world creators can advertise their world widely and be assured that new users will always be able to visit the world, at least at first.

For those people who spend hours on end inside virtual worlds we now offer our Platinum Plan. This plan includes an unlimited number of Minutes per month, 5000 KC per month (an amount which would cost you $20/month to buy separately), and 100 free worlds. If you’re an avid virtual world user, or would like to provide free access to many other users, this plan provides the best value for your money.

Here are all of our available plans:

To change plans, go to the My Worlds tab, click on Get Credits and then click on the plan you want to use.

Buying Kitely Credits

You can also buy KC separately, regardless of which plan you are using. This is useful if you need more KC in the middle of the month, or if you want to try Kitely before signing up for a premium plan.

You can buy KC for the following prices:

1,000 KC – $5
5,000 KC – $20
15,000 KC – $50

To change plans, go to the My Worlds tab, click on Get Credits and then click Buy Credits.

Enabling Other Users to Access Your Worlds for Free

Normally, visitors to your worlds are charged Minutes out of their personal accounts, and you pay nothing. However, if you wish, you can enable other users to visit your worlds for free by covering this charge yourself. To do so, Edit the world, switch to the Access tab and set the price for the group of people you would like to subsidize to Free. When you do so, the selected group of visitors will pay nothing to visit that virtual world: instead, 1 KC per visitor will be deducted from your balance each minute that they remain in that world.

History Table

The history table has been enhanced to show how many Minutes and/or KC each event had cost you so you’ll be able to track how things were paid for.

Effect on Existing Users

Now that the billing system is in place we will no longer top-off people to 1,000 KC each week, as we had done previously. All the previous KC we had given out since March 2011 have been expired, and all user accounts have been automatically placed on the Free Plan.

In addition, we gave a one-time bonus of 50 KC to each of our existing beta users. These KC aren’t part of the Free Plan; new users will not get them.

Future Plans

We intend to allow using KC for virtual commerce in the future.

We are also considering allowing the conversion of KC to real-world money. However, this is difficult for both legal and regulatory reasons, so we’re not yet certain that we will do so. Please let us know what you think about this in the comment section below.

Final Words

Our billing system is sophisticated and supports many features: real-time billing (to support visiting worlds); subscriptions; two currencies; and more. Please let us know if you encounter any problems and we’ll fix them promptly.

We’ve been developing Kitely using our own personal savings for more than 3 years now. We rely on your support to allow Kitely to continue to exist, and to enable us to push the envelope in terms of what can be done with virtual worlds. If you enjoyed using our service until now, would like to use us in the future, or  just wish to support our efforts then please subscribe to one of our monthly plans (or buy some KC).

Thank you! :-)

  • http://twitter.com/iliveisl Ener Hax

    congrats! send out exclusive press releases to bloggers that you like, you’ll get great traction *wink*

    • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=1605956609 Ilan Tochner

       Thank you for the suggestion Ener :-)

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  • http://www.facebook.com/James.P.OReilly James OReilly

    I. The initial pricing strategy was announced as follows:

    A. During the Beta phase… no costs will be implemented.

    B. Upon going operational in Alpha phase
     
    B1. Free stuff: none
    B2. Non-free stuff
    B2.1 Fixed price: 10 cents per month per sim 
    B2.2 Variable price: 20 cents per hour per user

    “Cents per month” and “cents per hour” are really the easier way of understanding things. 

    II. The newly tiered (Monthly Tarif) pricing strategy branches out into other directions now, but the initial and simplier pricing strategy I can still be established. 

    Your Use Case: You are looking to lean on the initial and simplier pricing strategy I. Let’s call it the purely Prepaid way (versus the Monthly Tarif way), the following action plan seems to be the nearest mix to choose and implement.

    A. Well, we still have the Beta phase… and costs are indeed now being implemented.

    B. Beta & Alpha phase pricing 

    Input side

    Choose the Free Plan, no Monthly Tarif plan

    B1. Free stuff: The 1st Kitely World is free for 2 user hours each month
    B2. Non-free stuff

    Prepaid: Buy 15,000 KC for US$50 (= 0.3333 cents/KC), which gives you the greatest purchase discount of 33.33%

    Output side

    B2.1 Fixed price: 10 cents per month per Kitely world (no fixed costs for the 1st Kitely world, fixed costs start from the 2nd Kitely world and apply to all the following Kitely worlds)

    B2.2 Variable price: 20 cents per hour per user (variable costs start for the 1st Kitely world after 2 user hours each month, and also for all following Kitely worlds from the 1st minute of use). Each user minute is counted. 

    Note: Let’s see how this operational use case point shifts as soon as the monetization function is implemented.

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Lawrence-Pierce/1527884925 Lawrence Pierce

    Thank you for your investment of time, money and interest in the communities served by this technology.

    • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=1605956609 Ilan Tochner

       Thank you Lawrence,

      Now that we got billing out of the way we can get back to working on implementing some of the things you and others have requested.

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Suzy-Silverweb/100000918999488 Suzy Silverweb

    Great update! Just learned of it…thanks for all your hard work!

    • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=1605956609 Ilan Tochner

       Thank you Suzy :-)

  • http://www.facebook.com/James.P.OReilly James OReilly

    The following questions remain:

    1. How do you set and identify your 1st Kitely world if you operate several ones?

    2. I haven’t done the detail assessment work yet, but does this price scheme comply with the Online Shopping Assistant of eConsumer.gov as endorsed by 27 consumer protection agencies? Online Shopping Assistant http://www.econsumer.gov/english/resources/shopping-assistant-text.shtm 

  • http://www.facebook.com/James.P.OReilly James OReilly

    I would say that as long as no verification exists if compliance is upheld with the Online Shopping Assistant from http://www.eConsumer.gov any billing during the Beta phase should be deemed as void.

  • http://www.facebook.com/James.P.OReilly James OReilly

    Now I read that your TOS from 2011 refers to changes in 2012. 

    – “Company will charge your account’s KC balance (“Balance”) a certain storage fee, as appears in the prices table available at http://www.kitely.com/#!home, of KC per calendar day (“Day”) per virtual world stored in your account (“Stored World”).” 

    Next to Monthly and By-the-Minute prices, I now see By-the-Day prices… 

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  • James OReilly

    New Billing Scheme:
    How about billing in a pure Prepaid way versus Monthly Tarif way, as Use Case?
    http://getsatisfaction.com/kitely/topics/new_billing_scheme_how_about_billing_in_a_pure_prepaid_way_versus_monthly_tarif_way_as_use_case

  • http://www.facebook.com/umparish Bill Lawson

    Thanks for the opportunity to share in the support of your project.  Looking forward to the developments you’ll be offering!

    • http://www.kitely.com Ilan Tochner

      Thank you Bill :-)

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  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=736763058 Ramesh Ramloll

    Hey there, just a question if I may, say I miss one monthly payment, will my island be purged? Am sure it is somewhere in the ToS but I could not find the information. Thanks

    • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=1605956609 Ilan Tochner

      Hi Ramesh,

      Sorry for the delay in responding, we missed the new comment notification. It’s best to ask such questions in our support forums.

      Billing plans are automatically charged to your PayPal account. If a charge fails for several days (and repeated automatic retries) then you will be automatically switched to the Free Plan which includes one free world. Each additional world costs 1 Kitely Credit (KC) per day.

      As long as your account has enough KC remaining to cover the world storage costs your worlds will not be suspended. However, once we have been unable to charge your account for exceeding your plan’s free worlds quota, because you don’t have enough KC, your  non-free worlds will be suspended and you’ll be sent warning emails about pending world deletions. You will then have 60 days to upgrade your account to get enough free worlds (to activate the ones pending deletion), or buy enough KC (to cover the accumulated storage fees) before the suspended worlds will be deleted.

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