Wednesday, 18 August 2010

Dear Uncle Phil

Dear Philip,

I watched your keynote speech not with especially great interest, to be honest, as I came into it with a crippling amount of pessimism about the state of the company and its future given that you’d laid off a host of other people just the week before. Still, you have to admire me for still wanting to see it, right?

My review would be: mixed bag. I heard you talk about stuff that was all a bit too techno-jargon for me and I heard you mention some things I could understand. However, I do still have some issues I’d like to address…

I’ve been in Second Life for approximately 47 months, and have been a Premium Account holder for approximately 46 months. I’ve purchased L$ during my time too, so I’ve given you a fair bit of my own money over the years. In that time, I’ve built things for little or no financial gain, and I’ve taken the time to help others build things; I’ve designed sims and I’ve helped others design sims; I’ve had a blast making machinima, and seeing what kind of reaction my approach to mini-movie making has had; I’ve made contacts with people from all across the globe, I’ve made genuine friends, some of whom I’ve then had the great pleasure of meeting outside of Second Life – some are even coming to my forthcoming wedding! – and I’ve suffered genuine sadness at losing some of those friends along the way too. I’ve done and experienced quite a bit that I should be very appreciative of the Lab for, as without SL, these things would never have happened.

However, when I hear that you want to put the focus on new sign-ups, it pains me Philip. It really does.

Of all the things I’ve done to enhance for the Second Life experience and promote to others, where is the return of the appreciation? Where is the love, Philip? I’ve been paying for your support, so where is it? Maybe you’re not a fan of my machinima – it’s OK, a lot of people don’t like Coldplay or waffles (I call these people ‘the crazy folks’); maybe you don’t have a tiny avatar and therefore think that your tall avatar look ridiculous in the tiny outfits I make. I can’t figure it out! I still suffer with lag. I still see log-in issues, I still see inventory issues, I still see transaction issues on a weekly basis. If these are going to be ongoing issues, come out and say so, so I’ll stop clinging onto the belief that these things are being worked on.

Of course you want new people to come in-world, that’s completely understandable. I worked in the retail sector for a while, and I appreciate that Second Life is (in part) a product, and you need your customer base to continue to grow if you want your company, your business and your revenues growing – that’s Economics 101.

And I can appreciate you wanting to get the experience right; if I was a new customer about to walk into an amazing looking new store with fancy flashing neon signs and sexy music playing out over Bang & Olufsen speakers, I’d be thinking, ‘Wow, why didn’t I come here sooner?!’ But if, on the way in, I hear someone on the way out muttering about how bad it’s getting and getting worse in there, I’d be stepping into that store in a very different frame of mind.

You said in your SL7B speech: “So going back to those basics and just trying to make this thing work for all of us is what you can expect to see from us next.” No offence, but in the time you said that and now, I haven’t seen a whole lot of improvement. So why are you working on new stuff already? Are you seriously telling me that everything’s fixed?

I know it’s hard to please all of the people all of the time (especially those scripting geeks; sheesh, trying to please them sometimes seems to be as infuriating as trying to turn a lion into a vegetarian), but have some appreciation of the paying customer base. I don’t consider myself one, but some of the longer-term residents do have some very good ideas that should be looked at and addressed. However, I do know that most of those ideas are based around improvement of the general experience, not how it looks. You seem to be focusing on giving new users a fancy new pair of shoes to walk in; however, when you’re asking them to walk down the same muddy, puddle-ridden, debris strewn road as the rest of us, having shoes with the springiest of steps or the whitest of laces won’t make an ounce of difference.



No comments: