December 22, 2009

10 Days of WAR: Day Five, Metaplace shutdown

For Day Five of my return to WAR, I took a break.  However, to fill space, I want to talk about the Metaplace shutdown that was announced yesterday:
Today we have unfortunate news to share with the Metaplace community. We will be closing down our service on January 1, 2010 at 11:59pm Pacific. The official announcement is here and copied below, and you can read a FAQ guide here. We will be having a goodbye celebration party on January 1st at 12:00noon Pacific Time.
I'm conflicted on what to think. On one hand I don't see how the product could ever generate revenue, but on the other hand I could see it had potential. In the end, the first was proven correct and the latter will be left to our imaginations.

Avatar movement was clunky and it felt like my character was always floating. Most interaction seemed to boil down to launching another website or some form of web content (videos, music, etc).  Nothing in Metaplace ever felt like a game.

However, I don't feel it was supposed to and that is not what Raph Koster set out to do. Unfortunately, Koster is known for his involvement in MMOGs, so that was what many of us expected.  Games could be built using the Metaplace tools, but it was not its sole or even advertised purpose.  However, what its true purpose was, I could not tell you.  I messed around with Metaplace only long enough to know it wasn't any good for hosting an online game.

The meta places were tiny and then they tried to offer more world space for larger worlds, but that extra space cost money, unless a builder wanted to use just the small world spaces offered for free.  Then there was an additional cost to have more than ten people in your world at once and the pass to allow more than ten people at a time only lasted a single day. Then there was Metaplace coins that could be used for many things.  Builders could even charge to access their world.  IT WAS CONFUSING!

Metaplace was so confusing that I gave up on it.  I didn't know what I could or couldn't do and I had no idea where I was getting all my coins from that were letting me buy things.  I couldn't find any meta places that felt polished or professionally done.  It all felt like crappy Neverwinter Nights user modules that I downloaded from IGN back in the 00's.

I'm not trying to be mean about Metaplace.  I'm sticking to my long held belief that 99% of user generated content is garbage.  Metaplace was trying to get people to PAY to both make and use that 99%, which to me was a failure from the start.

However, I saw a glimmer of possibility within the system.  If it could have been expanded to allow for large, seemless worlds, it could have been amazing.  If the community had built better tools, novice builders could of climbed out of the 99%.  Lastly, if the business model had just made sense, people may have known what they could spend their money on.

Sorry Raph.  Sorry Cuppy.  I respect what was being attempted, but as a gamer and web enthusiast it didn't hold my interest.