Wednesday, May 13, 2009

Freebies are killing SL! All hunt items Suck! The sky is falling the sky is falling!!! What, again?

I think we all need to step back a bit and take a realistic look at what’s going on. Every year I have been in SL someone is ranting about how “This is the Year” that something or other is going to Kill SL. We have been through, Copybot, LandBot, Gambling ban, Opensim, Lively, Openspace price hikes, Onrez shutdown and we are now faced with Adult Age Verification, and we are all still here. So how on earth are freebies going to take us all down. Well they aren’t.

SL has always had free items. Nearly everyone in SL gets started with free stuff to get your feet wet. If you find you like it, you bring a bit of money in and get yourself done up right. If you’re really into it you become a SL shopaholic. It’s still true today even though there are more freebies and better quality freebies.

But we hear some shops are failing and sales are off for most places, aren’t freebies to blame? No. Most new businesses fail in the first two years in the real world and that’s likely to be true in SL as well. Also with the annual warm weather slowdown in SL and the global recession I don’t know why people need a scapegoat as to why things are a bit slow now. Then what’s with all the drama around freebies and hunts? 

First a little drama goes a long way in SL. Most people that do the freebie thing in SL are happy and grateful to get what they get for free. Most people Enjoy doing hunts in SL. They find it a fun thing to do, enjoy discovering new shops, and like getting home to see what new stuff they ended up with. If they don’t like something, no biggie, hit the delete key and it’s gone. 

Then there is what I call the “vocal minority” I’ve also seen them called “hunters in a hurry” as well as a lot of other names I’ll spare you with here. They have a high level of dissatisfaction about freebies, hunts, store owners and hunt organizers and have no problem expressing it. My best guess is that these people are true SL shopaholics, but since they don’t choose what they get and only end up with what is free they are frustrated. As far as the frustration around hunts for them it’s like going into a grocery store blindfolded and then being surprised that they don’t like everything in their cart. 

However rather than understanding that it’s their choice to “go free” in SL and that takes most of the choice out of the equation, they get angry about it. Personally I don’t do hunts, and I pay or make what I want here. So I don’t have any advice for the angry freebie hunter. However I do have a shop and run a 2 sim shopping area so I do have some ideas for dealing with what is going on. 


No hunt hunts:
Let’s face it someone is going to make that cheat sheet. So why fight it. When you put together a hint sheet, go ahead and make that cheat sheet too.  Some people will do the hunt the fun way and the rest can zoom through it.

Designer Showcase Network:
Simple and easy, set up a vendor, put in a free item, set it to the correct category (Male, Female, Skin, Vehicles, etc.) potential customers get a random item from their category once a day. No hunting, no complaining about lag, and because its random it discourages trash talk about any one freebie.

Rethink your free offerings:
Banning freebies is silly, it’s how everyone gets their start and they can be a useful marketing tool. However if you don’t like how your free offerings are being received, change how you do it. Free items only for loyal customers or giving out demo versions of your new releases are only a few options.

Get some perspective:
There are some in SL that will only take your free items and never buy a thing from you and that’s fine. There is also a very loud very angry minority of freebee people out there, and it can feel like everyone in SL, but it’s not.  Far more people shop and pay for things in SL than don’t. Most of the ones that only pick up freebies are grateful for what they received or at least can hit the delete key rather than gripe about what they got for free.

Ban and Mute:
It’s your store or your sim. You pay tier or rent just to keep the walls and the vendors up.  Griefing takes many forms, if you don’t care about your customers’ experience you could let your place turn into a prim littered battlefield, or choose to keep the griefers out.