Welcome to Home, Sharehopper

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by: C. Sven Johnson (via Business & Games)

A few days back additional details were revealed about Sony’s new “Home” virtual world. Since then I’ve been trading comments over on Raph Koster’s blog (Link); some of which might be of interest.

Most comments specifically address this item:

Opportunity for revenue sharing with users to encourage placement of advertising within their spaces

I’ll cull a few key points from those comments and post them here, but for the full exchange head over to Raph’s.

Darniaq: Great thinking and all, but unless they decouple it from this single platform…

csven: It’s beginning to look to me more and more like one big advertising space. Maybe the real game is: “How to turn every PS3 player into an advertising shill”.

moo: I’m not interested in any virtual spaces that contain advertising. Not now, not ever.

Techbear: I myself am interested in how/whether they will control or censor the “photos and videos themselves and user generation content tools”.

csven: I’m okay with advertising. Just not when the audience is captive… and many of the players become virtual salespeople for RL brands in order to make a little scratch.

Darniaq: If Home is modeled around the real world, then advertising within that world can enhance the immersion. It’s like product placement on TV. An actor drinking a can of Generic Soda or an actor drinking a can of Pepsi doesn’t radically change the viewing experience…

csven: …here’s something I’d worry about: intrepid saleskids running around the public spaces trying to convince people to visit their private space… where the revenue-sharing ads are supposedly going to be sequestered. That means the public areas will become advertising competition zones, with anyone not competing (i.e. actually socializing) getting spammed by avatars shouting “Check out my kewl space! Check out my kewl space!”

Darniaq: You didn’t like Coronet Spaceport in SWG? I think there will be areas like this in Home.

csven: Never played SWG. However, something tells me that whatever it was players were selling at the Coronet Spaceport, it wasn’t something I’d see outside of the game. And that’s where I think this starts to violate some boundaries people won’t appreciate.

Darniaq: Ok, now I get it. The combination of emergent behavior AND the prospect of real-world transactions. I can see that. It’s annoying enough constantly getting spammed in private chat and ingame mail from gold farmers, who finally had to go “underground” with their hawking of their gold in such places as WoW and LoTRO. Imagine that in a buffed-up Second Life type on environment on a platform still mostly attractive to competitive hardcore gamers

csven: Exactly. … Even in SL, the people spamming stuff are still spamming their own creations; not some multinational’s product line. So say “Goodbye” to goldfarmers, and “Hello” to ad revenue sharehoppers.

I should mention that by “sharehoppers”, I mean 1) converted gold farmers, and 2) youngsters who are funding their online activity – everything from videogame purchases to broadband connection fees – by shilling for real life companies partnering with Sony.

Not only that, but I see virtual businesses spinning off from the injection of real money into Sony’s virtual world. As one example, converted gold farmers may enlist other sharehoppers to help collect ad revenue, and “pay” them by setting up training/raiding guilds. In other words, set up apprenticeship programs to help them with their game. I can imagine there are plenty of kids out there willing to “work” in exchange for having an experienced gamer help them advance their avatar. Reputation rules. Plus, a well-trained group of apprentices might be useful to an experienced farmer for other reasons.

It’s possible the whole online gaming culture could see a shift from something as seemingly innocuous as ad revenue sharing. Real money could do that.

It’s a curious thought: Low-wage overseas workers using a game console to employ American kids at even lower wages.

Outraged parents to follow. News at eleven.


Original Post: http://blog.rebang.com/?p=1368