Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Super Tourists

When I first wrote the series of posts covering Tourists, Customers, Fans, and Super-Fans, I wasn't in the Virtual World business. Now that I am, I want to re-explore Tourists. Not just any Tourists, Super-Tourists!

Quick recap: I call the players who are using the free version of your product Tourists. They are checking it out, and maybe they'll pony up some cash and become customers. (Note: Tourist is the literal name of non-paying players in ourWorld. I don't know if that's coincidence or not. I came up with the term Tourist long before I ever heard of ourWorld.)

If you are a player with a free membership this is what you offer:
  • You might buy something and become a Customer.
  • You contribute and enhance the community, increasing the value of the game for Customers and Fans
  • You may refer other players to the game, so even if you never become a Customer, you may be responsible for someone who eventually does.
Note: A Tourist who doesn't do any of those things may be harmful to your game. Community contribution is subjective, and freeloading troublemakers can be an issue. Tourists who constantly use up the time of your support staff can also be an issue. I hate to cut anyone loose, just in case there is potential, but sometimes you have to.

Super Tourists are players who bring a lot to the table, besides their own money. They are as involved as a Super Fan, only without the check-book. They enhance the community by having a lot of friends and being fun to play with. They refer a lot of players to the site, many of whom become customers. For games where volunteers are needed, they're front and center. It's generally accepted that volunteers don't do it for the 'stuff', but for recognition. It may be that Super Tourists require more 'free stuff' than normal customers because their lack of spending limits their experience.

As I've recently posted, ourWorld has just started an assortment of reference features (click the avatar in the sidebar!) but we haven't started ID-ing Super Tourists yet. I'm not even sure how many (if any) there are. I'm going to look into it.


Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Idle Mice are the Devil's Work

"im bored"

When looking through chat logs, nothing drives me crazier than seeing that phrase. It's maddening, because it seems like we could do something, but nobody really knows what. Playstation Home just launched and the most common comment I've seen about it is that it's boring. (That and it will be good when they expand it. Why does that sound familiar?)

Virtual Worlds are, for the most part, extremely fancy chat rooms. The problem is, they look like games, so there is a sense that something more ought to be going on. But what?
  • Games - I'm beginning to think that Virtual Worlds are an imperfect fit with games. Pure gamers aren't interested in the social aspects of VWs and social players aren't all that jazzed about single player or competitive gaming. A percentage of players are interested in both, but I have no idea what that percentage is.
  • Exploration - Making a VW large enough where exploration is fun for more than a few minutes is difficult and expensive. In ourWorld, most of the 'regulars' spend most of their time in the condos (private member-only locations) rather than hob-nobbing with the noobs in the public spaces.
  • In-World Activities - This shows the most promise, and what I'm working on with ourWorld right now. Something for your character to do, that isn't really competitive, and doesn't keep the player from being social. If the social players can't chat, they tend to steer clear of that activity. Pretty vague, huh. Yes, I'm still working on the specifics myself.
  • Organized chat - YoVille has a fabulous feature where players can set a topic-specific party and invite interested players to their place. The topics range from age-specific (under 15s only), X-rated (of course), and the more mundane (Jonas Brothers Fans.) I think this is a key boredom killer, as it focuses the chat and the community rather than distracts from it.
Part of the problem for both ourWorld and (I imagine) Playstation Home is the teen audience. As stated before, a notoriously hard group to please. Still, teen players are a lot of fun if you can make them happy. OurWorld is starting to get into a groove, with regular players and a constant stream of new players (click the avatar...)


Monday, December 15, 2008

Old Man Winter

One of my best friends, Mark Gardiner, is a talented photographer. I submit proof:


Thanks, Mark!

Sunday, December 14, 2008

Who is that handsome anime-looking dude?

OurWorld is adding a new feature, an affiliate script that grants the player ourWorld Gems (the currency that normally costs $) if people use its link to join the site.

If you were to click on that avatar image and join ourWorld (and save and gain a couple levels) I'd get +10 Gems. Nice.

Wylde (that's the ourWorld me!)

I love this kind of stuff.