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 Any links to our SuperPoke Pets sites are no longer active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.