The Free To Play Model Gathers Pace

Linden Lab have long been criticised since they opened Second Life up to potentially more customers in 2006 and allowed people free unsubscribed access, some of the criticism was justified as it did open the doors to some unsavoury types who only wanted to cause trouble, but it is also a model that gives people greater choice than a straight subscription model does.

Four years on and Lord of the Rings Online and Pirates of the Burning Sea have both moved away from the subscription model, to allow people free access to a point, while addons and premium options can be purchased. Champions Online will move to a similar model in Q1 2011, which must all in some ways please those at Linden Lab who took the decision to move to this model, the cold harsh reality being that payment and registration  are barriers to entering a new world and limiting how much freedom one can potentially have, puts people off at the door. Continue reading “The Free To Play Model Gathers Pace”

Micah Whipple – A Name To Remember In The Privacy Stakes

Micah Whipple, remember the name because it’s an important one in the privacy stakes. Blizzard it seems, have bought lock, stock and extremely smoking barrel into the whole concept of sharing the love of real life details, many of their users however are not at all impressed about the Zuckerberging of their names, the problem it seems stems from forum changes that will mean anyone posting on the forums at some point in the future (the exact date is vague) will post using Real ID, which will mean posting with their real first and last name, they can helpfully post with their character name alongside it.

The problems for Blizzard started when they posted this information on their forums, the US forums here and the European forums, here. Some forum goers feel this is a wonderful move and will cut down on trolling, which is one of the reasons Blizzard cite: “The official forums have always been a great place to discuss the latest info on our games, offer ideas and suggestions, and share experiences with other players — however, the forums have also earned a reputation as a place where flame wars, trolling, and other unpleasantness run wild. Removing the veil of anonymity typical to online dialogue will contribute to a more positive forum environment, promote constructive conversations, and connect the Blizzard community in ways they haven’t been connected before. With this change, you’ll see blue posters (i.e. Blizzard employees) posting by their real first and last names on our forums as well. ” Continue reading “Micah Whipple – A Name To Remember In The Privacy Stakes”

Forums To Be Nerfed

“Upgrading the forums” shouts the blog headline, as Linden Lab announce that they’re, well upgrading the forums, as you can read here. However having used the new forum software for some time, both inside and outside of the Second Life experience I have to say, the technology may be considered an upgrade but the experience often isn’t.

When the Xstreet forums closed people complained that they were losing a community, the commerce forums are a very pale shadow of the old Xstreet forums. People do not find the clearspace platform as user friendly and this isn’t just a complaint from Second Life users, I saw the same complaints when Frontrange closed their old forums and moved the platform to clearspace, some people who used to post on the old forum never migrated across and the same will happen here.

Continue reading “Forums To Be Nerfed”

2009 Reviewed

As 2009 draws to a close and people debate whether the forthcoming year is twenty ten or Two thousand and ten, it’s time to look back at the year, warts and all.

January

January was a strange month, we were still feeling the fallout of the Openspace fiasco when Linden Lab pulled a distraction trick by purchasing Onrez and XstreetSL! The rumours started to surface a few days before the official news was announced and covered here by Nobody Fugazi. We were treated to an official press release, FAQ, a forum thread and an official blog post. Interestingly back in January they were talking about new features such as shareable wishlists, they were also talking about merging accounts and balances, they partially got there but Xstreet would become a major bone of contention later in the year. Continue reading “2009 Reviewed”

Listening To Communities

With a hat tip to Desmond Shang for his forum post, and another to Kamilah Hauptmann who brought this to Desmond’s attention in the first place, there’s a very interesting blog post from Eric Ries, who has been involved with IMVU regarding listening to your community. I’ve touched upon this before with the example of how Champions Online rectified a situation over limited discounted subscriptions, but Eric’s post is probably a better example because it took IMVU a bit longer to figure out the harsh realities of not listening.

The crux of the issue is that IMVU didn’t listen to their community, made changes that as far as they could see would only have an impact for 0.1% of their community and that everything would be fine. However things weren’t fine, people whom IMVU hadn’t even considered would be interested in some of these policy changes were concerned to such a degree that IMVU was losing both revenue and customers on a scale they hadn’t imagined was remotely likely. Continue reading “Listening To Communities”