SuperPoke Pets Spins Straw into Gold

UPDATE April 23, 2009:  After getting an inappropriate comment on this article
from Slide
this morning, my wife and I have decided to no longer play.  We’re through.  Any links to our SuperPoke Pets sites are no longer active
and should be considered dead.  Why should we pay for that sort of
attitude from a company?  We’re voting with our billfold and the answer
is, “No thank you.”

Few of us know the value of a dollar other than we can make purchases in the real world with money that is given worth based on a common exchange of economic agreements.  What, then, is the value of a Gold Dollar?  If you play Slide.com’s SuperPoke Pets, you know the game isn’t any fun any longer unless you use your real world dollars to buy Slide Virtual Gold. In the images of my pet’s habits below, the animated things cost Gold while the Superheroes were “purchased” with earned “coins.”




The difference between coins and Gold is simple.  You earn coins for free by playing with your pet and other pets and you get Gold by handing over your PayPal or credit card information and buying specially priced Gold items.  The exchange rate is, literally, 10 cents on the dollar for purchasing Gold.

The fact that now the most beautiful and fun and animated things on SuperPoke Pets cost Gold instead of coins is a difficult thing for many players to accept because, in theory, SuperPoke Pets is supposed to be a kids game — even though I’ve only seen adults playing.

Last week, I had an epiphany playing SuperPoke Pets when, through a database glitch, I lost every friend I had.

With over 1,500 friends lost in the ether of the internet, I was no longer interested in playing the game because you earn coins by playing with your friends’ pets and when they play with yours.  You get 20 coins for every playdate and they get 40.  I like that.  It should always be better to give than to receive.

When I was left friendless last week, I began to panic a bit, because I quickly realized all the Gold I had spent decorating my habitat was going to be lost to me if I retired from the game.  Cartoon washer and dryers and animated animals that played music when you clicked on them have zero value in the real world beyond Slide.com.

After two days of being friendless, I told Slide.com that if they could not restore my friends and adding back the value I had embedded in the game by purchasing Gold items, I would need a refund for my Gold items since — through no fault of my own — my “guarantee of merchantability” had been violated by their database glitch.  With Slide.com, Gold items have value.  Without Slide.com, Gold items are worthless.

In less than 30 minutes, my account was restored and all my missing friends were added back to my account.  I was thrilled and satisfied and happy.  I had spent a lot of money on Gold items, so I was deeply vested and invested in Slide.com, but I’m not yet as crazy as players that spend over $800.00USD a month purchasing Gold for their SuperPoke Pets habitats.

There is a quickening divide happening on SuperPoke Pets where the “coins only” players bray that the only fun stuff is now “for purchase” only in the Gold Shop.  Yes, that’s true, but if the basic quality of the game is to continue to expand and improve, Slide.com needs a way to pay their designers and purchase server space and buy bandwidth.  They pay for real things with our virtual Gold purchases.  

The sea change in SuperPoke Pets is that the Gold Buyers now set the tone and the condition of the playing — as they rightly must — because those that pay real money to play a virtual game are owed a higher standard of care and attention from Slide.com than those players who ride the game for free:  “You Gotta Pay to Play!” 

Many free players are now offended by the notion that money walks and Gold talks on SuperPoke Pets, but that’s the way of the real world and the want of commerce in the virtual world.  

Yesterday, I discovered the real cleverness in Slide.com’s implementation of Gold items in the SuperPoke Pets universe. 

As an author and publisher, I am online 18-20 hours a day, and playing SuperPoke Pets for a minute or two throughout the day is a refreshing break from the bone-shattering work of having to think heavy in every other moment.

I awoke yesterday to the news that a brand new “Tickle Monster Mini Buddy” was sold out of the Gold store in less than three hours.  I couldn’t believe it because this particular Gold item was unique, animated, blue, and suddenly impossible to buy even if you had $5.50USD burning a hole in your PayPal account.

I was able to buy the other three new buddies:  “Clean” for washing your pet’s body and “Clown” for playing with your pet and “Chef” for feeding your pet — but I could only purchase one of each.

It was burning inside me that I missed the handsome Tickle Monster before it sold out!


I then went in to the Technical Support forum for SuperPoke Pets and saw there was a “technical problem” that was currently impeding many hardcore players from making any Gold purchases.  The new Mini Buddies were selling out and they wanted to buy them but they could not login to hand Slide.com their money.

After several hundred messages of outrage over the next three hours, Slide.com ingeniously “solved” the technical problem and re-stocked the “sold out” Mini Buddies to appease the hardcore Gold players.  I was able to snag my Tickle Monster — for a higher price than others before me had paid mere hours ago.

I watched during the day as the new Mini Buddies sold out and then were magically re-stocked at a higher price.  It amazed me how Slide.com created a feeding frenzy just by appearing to “sell out” a Gold item. 

The incredible pressure to buy Gold items at a lower price on an impulse purchase is overwhelming as the want to catch up and be equal with other players overwhelms the common sense of the real pocketbook.

I posted this revelation on Facebook today for my SuperPoke Pets friends:

Let’s do some quick and sloppy SPP [SuperPoke Pets] Gold Shop math. The adorable “Tickle Monster Mini Buddy” sold out at least twice yesterday before being restocked. 2,000 sales so far for him alone at $5.50USD a pop is $11,000.00USD for a single item. Not bad for a silly child’s game, eh? I see the other new Minis are restocked this morning. Probably a two day $50,000.00USD sales profit for all four when sold out.

Remember, there are thousands of items for sale in the Gold Store, so Slide.com rightly has a goldmine in their SuperPoke Pets game for children. 

As of this writing, I can see all four new Mini Buddies are still available for purchase in the Gold store.  There are twice as many of the other three buddies than the Tickle Monster.

Gold items have tremendous value in the virtual world of SuperPoke Pets.  Some non-Gold players will give you “coin” items that are hard to find — but what is the value of a five dollar Tickle Monster outside the Slide.com domain?  The answer is:  “Nothing.”  You can’t stop playing, though, or your Gold investment become worthless – and that is the genius of SuperPoke Pets — if you stop playing you lose real money; but if you keep playing, your money serves to entertain you.

Why do smart people spend dumb money buying worthless Gold items on SuperPoke Pets?  Is it because they feel they are purchasing “more better” stuff than the non-Gold buying players?  If you’re locked out of your SuperPoke Pets account, or if you suffer an unsolvable technical glitch, what, then, is the value of those Gold items?  Could you sell a Tickle Monster on eBay for $100?  Probably.  Would you want to try?  Probably not.     

Limiting some Gold items to “one per owner” is another cunning move on the part of Slide.com because it means the non-limited Gold stuff gets purchased in magnitudes of threes and fives and tens in a sustained Gold frenzy to buy as many items as you can before time runs out.

Do I love my Gold items?  Oh, yes!  Do I ever plan to stop buying Gold
items?  Never!  What is wrong with me?  I’ve been sold a magical potion
and I drink from the chalice a few minutes every hour — that’s how you
create and prolong an addiction — and some addictions are worth coddling and celebrating. 

Slide.com has created a unique online community that is part social network and part money pit for the players, but for Slide.com — SuperPoke Pets is a fountain of Real Money that is making them incredibly rich — and I am reminded of the children’s story about Rumpelstiltskin and the alchemist claim that, using a spinning wheel, “straw can be spun into gold.”

As of this morning, Slide.com now offers you their “Magical Spinning Wheel” — for sale in the Gold Store for a mere $3.00USD each — and you better hurry over with your credit card in hand, because there’s no limit to one per customer and there are only 319 left, and when you click on the spinning wheel in your habitat, the gold you spent turns back into straw.

32 comments

  • It is unbelievable that this is so profitable! I really had no idea the extent to which people play (and pay to play) this game, which to me is a mild diversion while I’m at work. $800USD/month? Outrageous. But choice is choice. I’m quite satisfied to remain a “free player” who will gladly stand aside while others waste their money.
    btw… Nice website David!

  • Hiya Cynthia!
    SPP is definitely a moneymakershaker — and if it isn’t into deep profit now, it soon will be, because I feel major changes are coming. The non-Gold store seems to be in stasis with no new stuff to buy, so either Slide.com are waiting to push a major update, or they’re just going to go “Gold Only” from now on.
    When you have a family playing SPP and there’s good Gold stuff to be had — multiple purchases are made across multiple accounts and that doubles and triples your base Gold buy. My wife plays SPP, though not as much as I do, and I had to buy her all four Mini Buddies yesterday just because they were limited and I knew she’d love them and and and and….
    With so much money on the line, I do wish their official support chain were staffed by employees and not volunteers. I know people will do almost anything to get a special SPP “Ambassador” badge to wear in their profile for volunteering in the forum — but those people need real money and not virtual, exclusive, chits to add to their habitats.
    I think you’re smart to stay “No Gold” because once you spend even one real dollar, you’re hooked into the virtual yoke — which is why their “Dollar Dip” surprise of a week or so ago was such a smashing, genius, idea because it hooked the “coins only” crowd right into the Gold realm. The next purchase gets easier and easier and and and…
    Thanks for the compliment on the website! We work hard here and our server was wonky for a bit, but things seem to be settling down now.

  • Your “Rumpelstiltskin” analogy is spot-on… but maybe in the case of the consumer it’s more like “The Emperor’s New Clothes.” ;-) A bit of a con!

  • Hi Cynthia —
    Welp, it’s only a con if you stop playing or if you have technical problems — that’s when reality slams you right in the face that you’re spending a lot of money for… what… ?
    I realize one can argue that the value of attending a football game is in the worthless paper the ticket is printed on — but at least there’s a visceral, calculable, quantifiable result you can take away from the entertainment value of the experience.
    If you buy every new release in the Gold store each week on SPP, you can easily spend $100 right there for a single pet account.

  • I never realized that there are players that spend so much on SPP. Personally, i only own one Gold item and I got that in exchange for about 10 coin items someone was interested that I had up for trading. I’ll continue to be a “free” player, because money is better spent elsewhere. Either way, I don’t even own a credit card, haha.
    By the way, your article is very well-written!
    See you on the playground…

  • Hi Rebecca —
    Oh, there’s a deep and wide group of people that spend a lot of real money playing SPP.
    I hope you will be able to keep playing coin-only. Do you feel ignored at all? Do you regret the lack of new coin stuff in the store?
    Thanks for the kind words about the article!

  • SPP is unrealistically addictive! I’m always thinking about what steps I should proceed with. I am almost annoyed at myself for being so controlled by a game. However, it’s the one thing during the day that I actually do for myself. Sad, I know!
    I haven’t purchased anything from the gold items … yet! I admit that my resistance to doing so is fading fast. The temptation is there and it’s growing. The coolest items are definitely in the gold items! I’m afraid that the SPP bug has bitten and it’s infection is contagious!
    I would never have guessed that that much profit was being made off of purchased gold items. I’m a bit astounded at the numbers in your figures! It’s certainly a clever and profiting business! What we won’t do for entertainment!

  • Heartmelody69 —
    Beware of the SPP Gold bug! It will bite you and it bites you hard! SMILE!
    The only way to keep SPP moving forward and making it better is to buy gold — I much prefer that than having to deal with advertising or user fees. Slide makes great, fun, stuff and Thursdays and Mondays are always delightful when we can see new stuff in the Pet Store.
    The best habitats now are certainly Gold. They’re animated and beautifully rendered. If you want any sort of movement or action in your stuff — you gotta Go Gold to get it now.
    I stumbled on the prices and riches yesterday. I woke up early, saw the 3 new buddies, bought them, felt satisfied, and then I read in the forums there was a fourth, new, blue Tickle Buddy that sold out fast and I was stunned. How could that Buddy sell out in 3 hours while I slept?
    So, I waited and hoped for restocking due to the “technical glitch” and when the first re-stock happened, the prices jumped! I think I bought my original three for $3 each.
    After the initial re-stock, prices were $4 each when I bought my Blue Mini — and then 10 seconds later, when I make the purchase of all four Buddies for Janna on her account — the prices were $4.50 each! Wha?
    After a couple more re-stocks, the Buddies are now sitting there at $5.50 each and right now there are three of them with 400 left and the Blue Mini with less than 100 left.
    After having that experience sink in, I decided to do a little sloppy and fast math this morning to see just how much that Blue Mini earned Slide and I was surprised to see those big numbers and I’m sure I missed a re-stock or two…
    I know Slide sometimes re-stocks items and they always raise the coin and Gold price to reflect the re-stock and sometimes, just over time, prices increase on their own.
    I just hope Slide has a set price for everyone. I don’t think it’s fair to set prices based on SPP activity — but that’s what it felt like when I bought my Buddies and then I bought Janna’s Buddies… two separate prices for two wildly different users…

  • I suppose logically it’s true… some might equate the entertainment value of a football game with a virtual pet. Personally, I’ll take my $800USD and take a vacation somewhere fabulous! I suppose it’s all in what one finds meaningful…
    The arcade is a cool new feature!

  • You’re right, Cynthia, that the value is in the spender’s decision — but in some ways Slide has it harder than, say, the New York Yankees. If you have a ticket to a Yankees game, you’ll see a game — but when you’re dealing with ether and bits of the internet and databases and glitches and purchases that seem to come and go and there’s no real rhyme or reason to it, one begins to panic a bit that the initial investment of time sweat and even money will be lost. For example, my wife “purchased” the SPP “Star Wars” plushies and poster pack and the coins were taken but the product didn’t show up. She reported it. She responded to Slide support. Nothing happened! They won’t respond to her or give her what she bought. She lost the coins but she doesn’t have the product. It really ticks you off.

  • I guess that’s the chance you’re taking when you know that you’re dealing with “ether and bits of internet!” That sure does have a risky sound to it! Didn’t you mention that SPP is run by volunteers? I’m sure that contributes to the confusion and unresponsiveness on their part. I agree that would be quite frustrating. I’d stick with the Yankees game.
    On the flip side, it has been a pleasure to have “met” you on Slide! I think I’m enjoying your article and posts as much as the game itself. :)

  • Hi Cynthia —
    The SPP forum is “run” by “Ambassador” volunteers — sometimes Admins are there, but the daily responsiveness to the messages is handled by volunteer labor. Slide.com is a company and they’re making money, and it would be really great if Slide employees would officially handle all problem reports and tech support issues because when the house is on fire, the volunteers really can’t do anything to stop the melting except to tell everyone to wait until the Slide people to go into the office. I think I’ve had my fill of reading hundreds of “flush your cache” messages to last a lifetime!
    You’re right SPP is a powerful social network — and I agree meeting you is a delight and pleasure we could not share if not for our animated pets!

  • Gordon Davidescu

    SPP is quite genius in that it gets you to spend money on things that, while you in theory can never lose, are not tangible either. :) It doesn’t make it any less fun :)

  • Kathakali Chatterjee

    SPP is obsessively addictive unless one is careful…it’s fun but it’s business.
    Bottomline, if you want to make “friends” (i.e. – if you want to net work) you have to pay…sort of an investment I guess.

  • That’s true, Gordon. I noticed 3 of the 4 new Mini Buddies are back in the Gold Store after being “sold out” for the past two days. The Blue one is gone…

  • Katha —
    You are certainly right about that! SPP is a fun way to make some good friends and to create new relationships. SPP is addictive and it does make us stupider:
    http://blog.bolesuniversity.com/2009/04/facebook-makes-you-stupid.html

  • Hi
    I was just poking around online for anything related to SPP that wasn;t the actual SPP site and found your posts. Glad to hear there is someone else that has been sucked in to the SPP world–I thought I had lost my mind!
    I do buy Gold but not a ton–maybe $50 a month. It’s a fun hobby and I do enjoy it although I must say I was disappointed by the releases last thursday–military habs, beach battallion, wild west–not my cup of tea. There were pages and pages of complaints in the forums about the new releases too–the veggies for the farm hab being gone within a couple of hours, etc. I’m not sure what Slide is planning but I feel bad for people who cannot get gold, especially when you see how cute the older gold items were–the Halloween stuff and such.
    I have had lots of fun collecting the older Halloween items, for which I was not around, in the trading rooms, but finally had my first “scamming” yesterday when I lost my Teddy JoJo to a scammer. There has been a real rash of them there lately. Why anyone would go to so much trouble to “steal” a pixelated image that is worth nothing to them financially, I do not know. It has taken the fun out of the game for many folks though.
    Anyhow, I plan to check back here often and hope you will continue writing about SPP.
    Thanks!

  • Hi Kerry!
    It’s wonderful to have you here with us and we thank you for your fine comment.
    I agree with the latest Thursday release. It seems like a complete fiasco with people hoarding new stuff and spending 400,000 coins at a pop to stock up on the valuable stuff like fences and strawberry patches. That’s crazy, but it took Slide all day to re-stock the stuff that sold out in 2 hours. Not a good business plan.
    I agree the Halloween stuff is so magnificent! It’s as if Slide had different artists designing stuff in October than they do now. I love the big Baluu bear and the Jojo and Coco bears. How did you get your bears? In a trade?
    I’m sick to hear you were scammed. That is totally rotten. Can’t Slide intervene and take from the culprit was was stolen from you and give it back to you? What does Slide say about the scammers?
    I agree the new military habits this week confound me. What? Why? For what purpose? They don’t give you any guns or bullet or blood or bombs to put in your habitat — yet the backgrounds are warships, tanks, cannons and cannonballs. Totally strange! Is there a major military holiday coming up?

  • It is totally ridiculous….. I’ve never bought any gold, but have suddenly become very addicted to spp, ” When can I feed her again??” It’s driving my mom nuts xD Of course she doesn’t understand how to even click the “x” to get out of a window. Anyway, I wish I could buy gold items. I really want the moving items. Ah, only dreams,lol. I’m kind of surprised about how much gold people buy, because it seems like a small website. Their profit must be nice.

    • Yep! I know lots of people who spend a thousand dollars a month on buying Gold items for SPP. Multiply that yearly expense — $12,000 per user multiplied by, say, 10,000 users — and Slide’s take is a cool $120 million using that simple metric alone for one year.

      A year ago Slide was valued as a $500 million company — so I guess Google got a good deal, eh? SMILE!

      • Sadly, they bought it just to kill it–I could care less about the lost gold as long as I enjoyed using them–but having all my pets disappear into the ethers when they pull the plug is going to be really rough! Nice blog, by the way~

  • I Have No Idea That Slide.com Was The Website That Offers Gold Items For Superpokepets. Now I Think That Slide.com Is Using Them. One More Thing Who Gets The Money For Each Gold Bought? Does Superpokepets Gets The Money Or Slide.com Does?

  • man they make a hell lodda money id rob em and buy 3888 mantions lol

  • sorry for badword but they do make a load off cash for what ? a silly but addictive game on facebook but feel free to add me on facebook im steven tumilowicz not stephen ok? now i want to work for google to get there money and on spp resicling {bad spelling } gives you gold but only dd=o so on spin the wheel items or starter gold items ok people peace

  • I love your question “Why do smart people spend dumb money buying worthless Gold items on SuperPoke Pets?”. When I first started playing SPP I was literally laughing when I saw you could buy items with real money. I couldn’t believe people were that stupid. However after almost two years of playing on there I fully understand it and I do buy an item or two here and there when it really takes my fancy. I guess you could see it like buying a cinema ticket – you get a bit of pleasure out of it for a short while but at the end of the day you have nothing. But because of its addictiveness I can quite imagine that some people spend considerably more money than I do on the game. At some point – when they either get tired of the game or are forced out by the powers that be – they will look back at all the money they spent and feel cheated.

    • That’s how I feel, Celia. Cheated. I invested money in a good time — in virtual goods that I paid to own, not rent — and now I’m locked out of my money. SPP are holding live assets that have been made dead to me and it ticks me off.

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