Archive | June 9, 2011

The Death of Superpoke Pets?

Superpoke Pets may be gone but Habi Makeover let’s us decorate and play with our pets

Check here for the newest developments.
click here to see spp player’s message to google – over 200 protest habitats
And just what’s the big deal with SPP anyway?

Computer Games used to be the realm of kids and teenagers, but social networks brought simple, easy games to the masses Soon everyone from grandmothers to small children could raise crops, fight rival mobs or adopt pets. Superpoke Pets is one of the latter games. Players adopt a virtual pet and decorate habitats for it. They play with friends’ pets and complete quests to earn virtual coins to buy more stuff to decorate more habitats with. Some players (myself included) even drop real money for “gold” items, all for the sake of decorating even more habitats. It’s a never ending cycle that keeps players busy and, generally, happy.

Or it was.

The first sign that something was wrong came on June 1st when a banner at the top of told players that there would be no monthly “passport” quest for June, though the previously created quest items would still be available in the shop. An announcement quickly followed that the monthly plushie collection quest, where users collect a unique set of plushies themed for each month of the year,  was also cancelled.  Players were surprised, but assumed that the staff was busy working to correct bugs with some of the recently added features, such as the marketplace and friend’s ladder, and that the monthly quests would resume in July.

Clucky goes back to 1970’s

Then, on June 6th the Slide/SPP team announced in the Superpoke Pet’s forum that there were many “new” changes coming to Superpoke pets. The Thursday item releases, central to the game, will end in July. There will be no new items, whether gold or coin, no new seeds (to grow in the gardens), no feature updates, no spa treatments, free retro plushies, new quests, new free gifts, secret items or new bonus wheel items. After June 30th players will no longer be able to become VIP players – a “status” that users pay $5 a month for  to gain access to features such as resizing items int he habitat and visiting the “pet salon” – though all active VIP players will have VIP status for free “so long as the program continues”.  Even stranger, players will no longer be able to play on their social networks, but instead will be redirected to the SPP website to play. On a side note, the suggestion room of the forum will also close – not that there would be anything to make suggestions about. These changes will be made slowly through the month of June into July. With no new content, the game will essentially be “frozen in time” by August first.

Like robots with preprogrammed lines, Slide’s SPP team has assured players that the game will not close down for “the foreseeable future” – a quote that has become their mantra. They insist that with the new marketplace – a “shop” where users can “list” items in their inventory and sell them to other players for virtual coins – and all the previously created items the game will not only continue to be fun but will flourish. The Administration have been very prompt to tell players what will stay and what will go, but they haven’t been very straightforward when it comes to WHY.

With no definite reason given, players have been left to create their own theories. Does it have something to do with the Class Action Lawsuit Slide and Google face over another application, Disco?  Is it backlash from the thousands of dollars that many players incurred in overdraft fees when the credit system erroneously charged their accounts multiple times for VIP membership (One speculation is that they may have lost their merchant license)? Or maybe it’s because Google wants to break into the social networking business and only bought Slide for it’s designers and equipment, not for it’s games? Is it only a coincidence that items will no longer be for sale and that Facebook links to the game now redirect to the spp homepage when,  starting July 1st, Facebook requires all it’s games to accept “facebook credits” for in game goods?

Those who know aren’t telling, which leaves player unsure about SPP’s future, despite the Admins’ insistence that it will be available for the “foreseeable future”. The problem is, how long is the foreseeable future? Quotes such as “Select Coin Items will be given unlimited stocks, so that you can buy them for months to come” – don’t bode well to some players. Neither does the fact that Slide is doing the same thing to other games, including Superpoke Pet’s Ranch, who recently announced, in almost the exact same verbiage, that they would be open for the “foreseeable future” but would have no new updates, either. Superpocus and TopFish, two of Side’s other games, suffered this same fate a year ago. Though those games are still opened, the fact that Slide hasn’t even bothered to update the News section of their website since mid 2010 says something very sad. Perhaps Google’s purchase of Slide was really a death knell?

Is it the end ?

Player reactions have ranged from anger to sobbing depression and even, in some bizarre cases cheerful, acceptance. There’s not really much that players can do, though some are still trying. A discussion on Google Apps was started, but admin quickly assured posters that though “We have heard your feedback and have escalated it to the appropriate team… This forum is dedicated to Google Apps, one of Google’s many other products, and unfortunately it is not an appropriate place for a discussion about SPP.” Meanwhile a group of users who believe in the power of the people have started a “Save Superpoke Pets” Petition and have asked that all players sign it.

For an application that was so popular it even had it’s own youtube channel , Google/Slide’s decision came as a horrible shock, especially given all the recent improvements. In June 2010 the Quest feature was added to the game to give players something more to do, including monthly “passport” quests where players purchased and decorated themed habitats for their pets, and The Gallery, a place where users add “snapshots” of their habitats to collect votes, was also added. In December 2010 Slide rolled out new versions of their  popular pets; redesigns that made the animals more uniform in shape and size so that players could starts dressing them up in clothing items. Though controversial at first, many players had come to see the new, more animated pets as an improvement. With the new pets came the VIP status which included a salon to change your pet’s color and markings, the ability to move your pet in the habitat, decorate behind your pet and resize items in habitats, things decorators had long been asking for. In March the Slide team did a complete redesign of the site and made it more user friendly, as well as giving it a visual update. Other more recent changes included changes to the Spa,  the Friendship Bracelet program,  the new Friend’s Ladder and the Marketplace.

Why spend so much time and money on improvements to a game you plan to basically dump? Why create items for a puppy quest that you know isn’t going to happen? Questions like these leave many players suspicious that it was a very sudden decision made by Google, either in response to something legal or a finances. With no answers forthcoming, and the future of the game uncertain, the only thing left for users to do is either sell out and quit, or hang on for the ride and hope it last longer than “the foreseeable future”.

(You’ll be getting an ode to my SPP pets post tomorrow!)

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