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Opinion: The Offer Wall

SuperRewardsI was surprised when Turbine said they were publishing an offer wall with Super Rewards; especially given Turbine’s motto, “Powered by Our Fans.” I want the offer wall to be a success. I was ready to buy stuff, but the Super Rewards (SR) system has a reputation for pushing bad offers through their system. Is it SR’s fault for doing that? Not entirely so – SR’s standards and rules are set by its biggest customer, Facebook. The lax rules on offers is what makes more money flow through the system. Is SR still wrong for publishing bad offers which scam users? Hell yes!

The scam that I hate the most is the quiz scams. Users are offered in-game currency in exchange for filling out an IQ survey. The answers you give are irrelevant. When the user gets to the last question they are told their results will be text messaged to them. They are asked to enter in their mobile phone number, and are texted a pin code to enter on the quiz. Once they’ve done that, they’ve just subscribed to a $9.99/month subscription of Hot Babes ‘n’ Tattoos Magazine.  There are even worst offenders, but they use the same method:  in order to swap personal information for virtual cash, the offers are designed to reach the young because they’re less likely to have a credit card. From what I’ve seen, it’s the worst deals on SR that make the most money.

Last year, Zynga (makers of FarmVille and Mafia Wars) admitted that they need to work harder to remove these bad offers.  But the only said that because they got slapped with almost 200 complaints to the Better Business Bureau in 12 months. Granted that not all complaints were fraud related, but a majority were.  Their rating dropped from B+ to an F by Fall 2009.

When SR started out, they were trying to help companies who create free-to-use apps make money, and keep the apps free-to-use. As Facebook and other companies started to see the money flow, of course SR was pressured to increase that flow and accelerate it.  The result allowed scams like the one above through the system.

So software publishers and ad service companies like SR are set with a dilemma when they use any Point-Reward-Exchange advertisement system: make money or be kind to your customers — or as the industry likes to put it “Monetization vs. User Experience.”  Much like the gamers in DDO, they are trying to keep costs low and maximize returns. They are also trying to reduce the risk of poor user experience or reduction of quality to their product.

So the question remains what is Turbine to do about it? I would suggest to them

  • Continue the Offer Wall, but monitor it closely for scams
  • Be responsive to users who file complaints.
  • Make sure that there is a secure transaction between the Turbine site and the SR site, and that no user account information is transferred. Isolate and secure Turbine User Data and create different user data for SR use.
  • Create strict guidelines as to what kinds of offers are displayed on the wall.
  • Anything to minimize the risk of creating a bad user experience with this system!
  • In the mean time, explore other avenues for monetization. I would love to see a swag store! Buy a real life swag hat, get one in-game or Turbine Points (Of course the cost of branded merchandise production and distribution is another ball game!)
  • Balance the “profit motive” with a “goodness motive”!  I would love to see an exchange of Turbine Points if I donate money to a non-profit or relief fund like the Haiti Crisis.

What are the fans going to do about it? If the offer wall is brought back and if you are a fan, help them make the Offer Wall successful.  Potentially, it could be a decent source of revenue for Turbine. That’s money that can be used for improving DDO the game or even converting some p2p areas to f2p.

  • Watch out for offers that interest you and take advantage of them for the offer itself, not just for the free Turbine Points alone. It’s like you’re shopping around for products, but you want to get the most out of your purchase.
  • Give Turbine feedback on offers which you think are good or bad.
  • Always report scam offers! Always look for signs of scam offers!
  • Tell Turbine what kind of offers you want to see if they are not there.
  • Be an informed purchaser! Read the text on the offer on all screens.
  • Report any experiences you’ve had, both good and bad.
  • Help Turbine improve the Offer Wall by being informative and constructive in your comments and communications.

UPDATE:  Marketroid made a forum post @ 9:50 AM on April 14, 2010 saying that the Offer Wall has been taken down. See the explanation here:  http://forums.ddo.com/showthread.php?t=243291

  • Very well written Anne, as always. I’d give you rep, but can’t do that here LOL. While not necessarily for the offerwall, your explanation of SR as a company helps me to feel a little bit better. As long as the offers are monitored, the harm is minimal. I’m all for Turbine making more money to increase the quality of the game…as long as it doesn’t degrade their reputation or hurt the user base. 🙂 Again, great work.

    Sylvurdragon

    April 14, 2010

  • Hey you just pointed me to a different idea for TP. 4th edition books/dice/ etc. It would cost turbine nothing to put a code inside the book/box and as there are something around 22 billion 4th edition books there would be people that start collecting them because of that.

    chrisgunning

    April 14, 2010

  • I can’t agree with you more! I wonder how much money Turbine would have made with the Offer Wall as opposed to a simple checkout cart offering DDO T-shirts, mouse pads, coffee cups, etc. I want swag too!

    Mockduck

    April 14, 2010

  • @Sylvurdragon Thanks! I’m fond of Fact-Checking and reporting my findings. Maybe Turbine could find another monetization rewards system. Last year’s industry news was pouring with how much profits Facebook and Facebook apps were making. But at what cost I have to ask?

    @Mockduck The logistics of branded merchandise marketing, production, e-commerce, and distribution is far more complicated than most people think. As much as I would love to have a giant wall tattoo of Vehla, the Red Dragon — ROI on such things doesn’t happen till your sales reach near hundreds of thousands. Sorry, that brain dump was brought to you by my own personal experience with e-commerce websites and brand marketing and merch portals.

    More Brain Dump Ideas: Turbine’s change from a subscription model a hybrid subscription + micro-transactions model offers greater flexibility and choice. Now if they could package that up and provide that as a boxed product, server appliance, or even a managed service. Think of the money you could make with that on the middle-ware market. I literally see dollar signs! $_$

    Theris

    April 14, 2010

  • My wife makes good money by posting her artwork on a couple of sites that do exactly that… Coffee mugs/steins, mouse pads, t-shirts, ties. prints, greeting/business cards, etc.

    We don’t even have to do anything (other than her posting new artwork 2-3 times a week, but that’s just her)… People go to her shop, order items, the sites print the items on demand and, as soon as the payment is verified add her comission to her monthly balance. Each month we get checks from each site that easily pay for all of our electronic access costs… the Broadband Cable, her website host, our cell phones, etc.

    I’ve often thought about contacting Turbine about permission to use in-game screenshots but always decided they’d disallow any activity that might profit from their hard work. My wife has made me a couple of items on a one-off basis (the bio-break coffee mug is great) and she made a couple of shirts for herself… “DDO Widow” and “The Other Woman is a Drow”. I think I’ll see if Turbine would be interested now the Wall has crumbled. Who wouldn’t want a beverage holder/garment with their favorite alt on it?

    Hambo

    April 15, 2010