[MUD-Dev] re: there.com

Martin Bassie martin at lyrastudios.com
Sat Jan 11 00:12:02 New Zealand Daylight Time 2003


On Wed, Jan 08, 2003 at 01:56:20PM -0800, susan wu wrote:

> I was curious as to what people on this list think about their
> product/service/business model.  They plan on charging for
> customer subscriptions, and also charging for virtual-objects
> created by third party vendors (levis, nike) and the community
> denizens themselves.

At a first glance, 'There' reminds me of activeworlds, although
better controlled, less complicated, and very likely, visually more
stimulating. At the same time, the whole concept scares me, because
it also reminds me of a rather interesting (apparently failed) trial
which was run on a Dutch Commercial TV channel for a while. It was a
"virtual environment" where mobile phone users could use an avatar
to chat by sending text messages to a specific number.  While that
incarnation of text messaging seems to have died, lesser, text-only
versions displayed in scrolling banners do still persist on all
kinds of channels...

Back to 'There'. The business model seems moderately safe.. You
charge people for access to your service, you charge them for
"powerups", and you charge advertisers for exposure to your user
base. You can charge advertisers more as you get more users.

That's also where I see the big issue. 'There' needs to attract
people with the fun activities they advertise. That means providing
content, and in many cases, providing content or activities which
change frequently. People will keep themselves busy, provided
they're given tools. Raise expectations with a 3D environment, and
you raise the expectations for the tools and entertainment provided
within There's virtual playground.

I, personally, do not want to have to pay to be able to chat to my
friends over in LA, nor do I want to be confronted with Levis, Coke,
HP, Burger King or Ben and Jerry's while I'm doing so. I'll most
likely stick to email and IRC... And to playing the occasional
online game if I feel like it.

Still, seeing the way so many young Dutch people use their text
services to display a wide variety of messages on TV, I have no
doubt that 'There' will find a segment, and may even secure it. If
they manage to get AIM or ICQ support included, it'll be even bigger
:)

-Martin
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