This is why we can’t have nice things

Let me tell you about a game. Its name – Glitch – is but a tiny indicator for the creativity, the quirkiness, the all-encompassing thoroughness in thought that pervaded this game.

Its relaxed nature of allowing me to play whenever and to whatever extent I wanted made it the perfect companion for all times and whenever I did play I was lulled in by its charm and general friendliness. Its ever growing massive world and the vast number of quests, items and quirks to explore seemed endless.

Endless, unfortunately, aren’t many things, and as it turns out, Glitch isn’t either. Two days ago it was announced that the game will be closing down. Why? Well, simply because there was no way to turn it into a viable business model. Once again, real-world constraints collided with the vision and creativity of an amazing bunch of people and whether we like it or not, there’s not a whole lot that can be done about it. While they had a subscription service, one of its great advantages, namely that every aspect of the game could be played without having to be a paying customer, was probably the one thing that took them down. It’s a terrible shame and the next time a VC invests in yet another photo-sharing app for the iPad, maybe they should remember that there may be more unique things out there deserving of their money.

The company behind the game, Tiny Speck, handled the situation very graciously, offering ever subscriber a refund for every monthly payment, something they had no obligation to do at all. Fortunately, it was just an offer, so I had the opportunity to give what I had already paid to a charity of their choosing (they did have the option of simply letting the company keep it, but I’m fairly certain that their employees will be paid out with whatever money is still left from their VC rounds).

On December 9th, Ur, the massive world of wonders in which Glitch was set, my little Glitchen, together with his house, the pigs, chicken and butterflies that live outside it, will disappear into that ether of all things that once were. What will remain will be a few snapshots taken during my travels as well as the knowledge that the world isn’t yet ready for something as unobtrusively amazing as Glitch.

Here’s to Glitch and the power if imagination.

PS: The good people at Tiny Speck created a downloads page where you can download artwork and music from the game. Do have a look, it’s all very charming.

Twitter Friend Requests or The Pitfalls of Viral Marketing

Twitter, the reinvention of the wheel (if a wheel was in fact something people use but don’t actually know if they actually need it), lets people follow other people’s activity stream. So far so good.

The fact that Twitter is by now more popular than the Ribwich has led to constant notifications telling me that this or that person is now following me. Most of the time, the person is either a bot or a spammer (which, btw, is a great sign that you’re in fact not exactly the quarterback of the Interwebs). I usually don’t reciprocate the favour and don’t follow them (a good indicator always is the ratio followers versus following – if you’ve got someone who’s following 3000 people but has a measly following of 10 people, you know that person is either mighty unpopular or a bot, both you should stay clear of, for different reasons).

So today I received another notification of someone following me, the rather telling name was termpapers. Clearly a spambot, but as with human nature and all, I was still curious to see what exactly they were offering. Well, turns out they offer, tadaaa, termpapers. From their homepage:

Paper Masters writes custom term papers and research papers. Our research paper services provide a completed term paper, exactly as if our writer was you! You give us the complete details of your project, the date that you want the research from us and that’s it! Receive your custom research paper in your e-mail complete and ready to go!

I am flattered that someone is reading my updates so diligently as to actually glean from them that I’m still not done with my thesis. But no, buying your thesis is not a solution. It’s actually just very, very stupid.

So no, dear termpaper, I will not follow you and your exploits on Twitter. Even though your first and as of now only tweet is, in its naive attempt to mimic viral marketing methods, quite charming.

Last.fm subscriptions – worth it?

A posting on Michael Kamleitner’s blog once again brought to my attention last.fm’s subscription model. Next to Flickr and Diigo, last.fm is one of the rare services I actually use daily. And apart from Flickr, there is no webservice I’m actually paying money for.

The question is, why change that by paying 2,50€/month for last.fm? Well, here are the reasons given by last.fm:

Subscription Benefits

  1. Blue icon status
    Trade your grey user icon in for a blue one.
  2. No ads
    You won’t see them; visitors to your page won’t see them. No one will, because they won’t exist.
  3. Recent Visitors
    See who’s been visiting your profile page.
  4. Personal radio paradise
    Turn your profile page and tags into a portable radio station you and others can listen to from anywhere. It’s like a smart playlist for the music you’ve tagged.
  5. Share the Love
    Your “Loved Tracks” become a listenable radio station for you and others.
  6. Red carpet treatment
    Get top priority with our webservers and radio servers at peak traffic times.
  7. Top secret beta access
    Be the first to know and try what we’re working on and help shape the development of the site. You’ll see a subscriber-only announcement during beta.

Well, here’s what I think:

  1. The Blue icon really does have me sold already. That’s it, I’m buying!
  2. That I like. Even though, quite frankly, certain Firefox plugins take care of that already.
  3. That I like as well. I love knowing who’s been checking out my sexy music collection, so that’s worth at least, say, 0,5€.
  4. This is it, that’s one reason that’ll make me pay, if I decide to. The current radio limitations for unpaid members are a drag.
  5. That’s where the last.fm marketing guy cheated a bit. Because, actually, that’s part of the above point. Still worth 0,5€.
  6. Considering that the last.fm website is sometimes so slow, it makes a snail look fast (pretty good image, right? witty even), this one is worth the 2,50€ alone.*
  7. You know me, I like me a bit of secret betas once in a while. I can’t really say how much that is worth, as I haven’t ever paid for access to betas (it’s unfinished software after all), but I’ll give it a symbolic 0,1 €. *Selling tolerable speed is actually a bit cheeky. Not able to scale your service? Not my problem. In the end though, you won’t get more speed by complaining, so you might as well hand over those 2,5€.

Well, after this lengthy and thorough analysis, a last.fm subscription actually adds up to 6,1€. Which is considerably more than 2,5€, in case you haven’t noticed.

So, teleologically speaking, a last.fm subscription is worth it. Which of course doesn’t mean I’ll buy it, but at least I won’t feel like a total ass once I do.

Any subjective opinions out there as well? Leave them in the comments!

Update: I just ventured forth and subscribed for a month. Doing is better than blogging, as the old saying goes. I’ll see how I like it.