In a move that should surprise no one, the Labs are killing the SL forums, including the classifieds--and in a further revelation of the obvious, when some form of the forums returns on the ClearSpace non-LL-owned forum/blog, the classifieds? Won't be there.
It's night now, as I rest in the crook of the tree I'd chosen to climb. It is dark and not dark, moonlight through leaves, soft wind moving. Hint of rustle, summer and autumn blending in what should be winter, and is not.
Why? According to Alicia Stella of Massively, "the Lab feels that it provides numerous, non-free advertising options to choose from." Well, then. Guess we'll be fine.
Lighter shadows lay over darker shadows, spotted with slivers of silver on black earth. The red glow from the train yard is the only color I can see, the pale moon's glow leaching color from everything else.
If anyone was on the fence as to whether or not the Labs want to divorce from their current user base, read that statement again. Of course it is completely within the Lab's control to host a classifieds section, or not; they are the owners of the grid, the undisputed owners of all (Linden-generated) content. But it is a decided step away from traditional game, or even socializing space, behavior at large--to wit, that there will now be no form of advertising tied to the Lindens that the Second Life resident does not pay for.
It might be said I don't care. It might be said I delight in inflicting emotional pain on those who love me. It might be said that all I'm designed to do well is to break hearts.
These things might be said, but whoever says them doesn't know me, and maybe never did. Those who think so, would be wrong.
I grant, this may be just me--I stopped being a paying account over the Homestead debacle, though I do pay rent on two parcels and do spend the equivalent, most months, of my premium account fee bringing in textures, taking photographs, and now importing sculpt maps (and at least 20% of that, if not more, I end up ditching anyway, so it's pure profit on the Labs' side). But it strikes me with rather stunning force that if the Labs are this hard up, financially, there are tens of dozens of ideas on better things to do to bring in cash! And top of the list, really, truly, is stop hiring stupid people.
Watching the red glow, though, brighter when my eyes close; I know, for instance, how much of the yard is ablaze. I know how much is burning sodium-bright; I know how many cars have burnt out utterly, to iron dust and fragments of rust. And mayhap it's time and past time for those cars to burn out in the scarlet blaze that consumes all; for if they have left the yard at all, it's been slow, ponderous trundling, pushed by weak engines, to the nearest supply depot for more repairs.
Thus, by default, with the thinnest slice of Occam's Razor involved--there's something else going on. And it irks me to no end that they risk losing chunks of their user base, both formal residents and 'informal' free accounts alike, by continuing to make these...short-sighted, incredibly inept business decisions.
Past a certain point, metal fatigue sets in. Past a certain point, nothing can be repaired. For all we may want it to be mended, eternally, riveted by loving hands, in any world: this is not so. This cannot be.
From the second part of the Why MMOs Fail article by Scott Jennings:
This also means that once the game launches, your players are your customers. Calling them customers is critically important. It implies that you are there to serve them, and not the other way around. You are not the god of your game world, you are a customer service professional, and if you want to keep those customers contributing to your paycheck, you had damned well better act like it.
This is what the Lindens forget, day after day, year after year. That their residents are also their customers; their citizens their cash flow, and the reason cash comes in at all. From the deviants to the debutantes, the furs to the four-figure middle managers. We are all one thriving world; cut one of us, you cut us all.
Drive away one segment, you risk driving away more than you may want to, financially speaking. The potential undertow is a real possibility, not mere hyperbole.
For the moment, I relax, held safe behind leaves and bark. For the moment, I watch my world burn. Because I know some seeds planted can only germinate under specific, and harsh, conditions. Deep cold and ice to crack; acid eating at the hard outer shell; fire, hot enough to burst the casing.
From the first part of Jenning's essay:
Takeaway lesson: never - NEVER - switch out the core of what makes your game what it is while you have paying customers. If you do, they will never forgive you.
Miss Rucker pulled this out for me to reconsider, and I'm glad she did, because it does deserve to be seen. I'm honestly hoping someone at the Labs, for once, happens across this. Because if the game keeps changing, in ways that the paying customers don't like--the paying customers leave. This is true for every game, every social media site, every virtual world on the net and off; change the rules, and at the end of the day, if the players don't like the new rules, they won't play. Hands down.
Perhaps there are some seeds that need such conditions to flourish and grow. And I'll be here to look them over, once the ground cools. A day, a month, a year from now, we'll see what has bloomed, and if I can call it mine, then.
Takeaway lesson from all this, from me? Don't change the rules. Don't upset things to the point where people feel as if it's a whole new game, with new concepts they have to master to do the same things they did yesterday. People will leave. An eighth of the people will bother to tell you; the rest are just...gone, and they won't return, because that game is 'over'.
Don't let SL be over, guys. It's too good a concept to butcher like this. Wake up.
Until that moment...I'll be in the trees.