Category Archives: Crowdsourcing

SIMs Devastated as Llama Fund Dries Up, Opens Micro Black Hole that Swallows Simtropolis

If you’ve played some of the earlier SIM City games, you might remember the news ticker and its strangely charming “news reports” about things going on in your city or SIM nation.   Today’s headline is in homage to that style.  For one reason or another the staff at Maxis games had an obsession over llamas, and based on a 2000 interview the original architect revealed why (here is the entire interview):

Question from strat440: Why are there so many references to llamas in “SimCity”?

Will Wright: Good question. Actually, many years ago, we had a company-wide vote for our informal company-wide mascot, and the choices came down to the Boston tree fern, beef tape worm and a llama. And somehow the llama won the vote!

In case you missed it, “SIMs Devastated as Llama Fund Dries Up, Opens Micro Black Hole” is a reference to the huge debacle faced by developer company Maxis and current parent company Electronic Arts (EA) on the latest SIM City release this past Tuesday, March 5, 2013.  In short, folks that had already spent countless hours building their municipality were suddenly kicked offline and all of their work disappeared forever.  As of late as Friday, there were still legions of SIM fans demanding refunds due to ongoing poor access to play the game along with a host of companion issues from the blackout.   There is even a Change.org petition going around about the issue that features a video of what is considered by gamers to now be a “broken promise” issued by a producer of the game.

As I read the comments in various forums, it appears EA was slow to respond to refund requests at first. By the weekend, EA seems to have finally ironed out customer service policy from the top on down to service agents in order to please irate gamers.

You might be wondering, how did all this happen, can’t people just not go online to play this?   Nope.

There’s this hot topic called Digital Right Management (DRM) = going cloud-based/online only to stop some piracy while creating inconvenience for paying customers.

Also, the game was built with the hopes that entire regions of cities could be crowdsourced together by all the users combining their individual efforts, a virtually-based positive economic impact if you will.

Here are some other problems that have stemmed from the blackout issue:

In the past, major game companies always had a leg up on being able to distribute game discs and cartridges through standard retail channels.   Now that game distribution is being pushed more into cloud-based services, foul-ups such as this leave companies such as EA in a very vulnerable position of staying at the top of the heap for the longer term.   The success of such indie online games like Minecraft and a whole host of app-based games like Rovio’s Angry Birds, who used to make games FOR EA, was nearly bankrupt in 2009 and somehow set out on their own to release the smash hit, point to building evidence that a relative no-name can grab market share quite quickly if the game play and access to the games works fine.

Among others, a special thanks to the crew over at Polygon.com, it’s a great site that has a real pulse on the gaming world if you’re in to that and I have found it to be a great resource throughout my IMC 619 Emerging Media and the Market course and this particular blog post.

While I am bummed to see this happen to the denizens tethered to the PC-only release, I’m hopeful that the MAC version coming out later while leave me pleased as punch.  Otherwise I’ll be

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The List of Angie and Your Health

This week in class we covered a lot in crowdsourcing, buzz marketing and word of mouth.   Since I’m feeling a bit under the weather, my mind has drifted to one of my favorite word of mouth, crowdsourced endeavors, Angie’s List, which happens to include a section on health care providers.

angiesscreengrab

Angie’s List gives power to the people, and lets them rate businesses in specific terms and top businesses gain many advantages in the process.  Also, businesses are able to respond to complains in a moderated fashion via the site.    The content on Angie’s list can be generated by paying users, the businesses themselves, guest writers and Angie’s own staff writers, such as this guy I went to grade school and high school with.  Obviously I am a bit biased, but the company does its best to hire level-headed, inquisitive and very fair writers.  Businesses are allowed to contribute articles when they have achieved high consumer ratings, helping them achieve even greater positive buzz.

While many articles do cover the pros and cons of services and general matters, Angie’s Twitter account has the approach of a daily reminder that if you aren’t helping yourself enough to take care of things maybe you should check out a provider listing.

angiecallbasement

Ok, that makes me want to sneeze even more.  X< 8 <

The only drawback to Angie’s List is that its most useful content – the provider ratings – is behind a pay wall, and beyond the free trial  an annual membership is required for continual access.  While I was able to find 655 results on WebMD about “sore throat” for free, Angie’s List is mostly meant for that next step where you need to go locally to get looked at further if it doesn’t subside.  In fact, Angie’s List shows WebMD as a top reference site.

While Angie’s list isn’t entirely free, there is a very interesting new feature called “Band of Neighbors” that lets neighborhoods share safety and news matters in a conveniently secure fashion.  Paying members and non-members are both allowed unfettered access to this feature.   This is an excellent way for Angie’s List to build additional community affinity for the brand, and hopefully some conversions to annual memberships.

mk