Tuesday, May 27, 2008

A Firmer Lilypad On Which To Land

Dear Fellow Toad-Gamers,

I need to find the right collective name to use for you all, Toad-Gamites, Toad-Gamerators, Toad-Gamerians. Just plain Toads may have been a bit too casual, let's stick with the Toad-Gamers for now.

And thank you all for the kind words of welcome, I'm excited to be here and I'm excited to hear your ideas and encouragements. Just one point of order, we haven't edited the comments at all. You're seeing it, warts and all (sorry). We've gotten a lot of direct emails messages in addition to the forum and the blog. That's fine, too. If you want to make a point offline without incurring the wrath of your fellow gamers, that's fine.

Please keep the comments coming and I'll keep the communications flowing your way as well.

That being said, let's get back to the matter at hand. So if we're not going to have advertising, it doesn't take a Rhodes scholar to make the leap to what we are going to do. Yes, Virginia, we're moving TG to a pay site.

Now before you break out the torches and pitchforks, hear me out. We're looking at what we consider to be a very modest fee to be a full-fledged member of TG. We snapped some beads on the ol' abacus and the total, per day, is around 15 cents. Yes, that's right race fans, spare change you might not bend over to pick up if you were in a hurry. One thin dime and one slightly fatter nickel (big bones), probably living by the thousands in the plaid couch in the basement rec room. Skip one Mocha Skim De-Caf Sumatran Double-Shot No Foam Latte with Sustainable Farming Cinnamon and you've probably fixed your TG wagon for that month and then some.

Now, of course, we're not going to pass the collection plate daily. We're gonna need a little up front action from you guys. And so we don't waste anyone's time or give the VISA folks too much in fees, the memberships will be renewed annually. Just think, NPR has pledge drives twice a year and we're only throwing ours once. Half the hassle with infinitely more fun.

So that's about it for this installment of the TG blog. To keep Madison Avenue off of our collective backs, we're switching to a pay site. The best price will be for an annual renewal of about $48, which is $4/month, $.15 per day, 6-tenths of a cent per hour... Well, you get the picture. Until next time,


Friday, May 23, 2008

Ripples Across The Pond

Hello Fellow Toads,

Big things are afoot at toadgames.com and this blog is the place to find out what they are, what they mean and when they're gonna happen.

My name is Lin and I'm the newest member of the Toad Games team. Dan, Chris and I go way back, and for the past few months we've been working together and wrestling with Toad Games, what it is and what we think it should become. We've reached a crossroads of sorts with the site and we've put together this blog to bring you into our thinking, our goals and our vision for this online community we've created, and you've built.

Toad Games has been free since the beginning. We've gotten by from your generous donations and our wallets. And that's gotten us pretty far. We're proud of what we've become and what we've accomplished.

However, it's been sticking in the back our minds that we were capable of building something bigger. Capable and hungry to build an online community that goes beyond games and create a real social network that lets people connect on whatever level they want. To make friends, have fun and to interact in a meaningful way.

Of course, therein lies the rub. To do this will require much more than our part-time efforts and your generous but not always consistent donations. Sorry to phrase it like that, some of you give and give and we do appreciate it. Some of you, well.....

So we started out on a path to make Toad Games at least self-supporting and hopefully, us-supporting. Most of the larger social networks are free, relying on advertising, banners and sponsors and, by golly, that's what we wanted to do. We interviewed various sponsors, advertising networks, marketing concerns, snake-oil salesman, carpet-baggers and all manner of slick advertising folk who were going to guarantee us a big chunk of free money each and every month.

In exchange for our souls.

The thing that we discovered (even though our dads told us many times) is there's no free lunch. It all started out innocently enough, hey, just put up a banner here and we'd like to get a sponsor link here and, oh yeah, you'll need to send us your updated member list each and every month. And yes, we'll need home addresses and phone numbers and maybe if you let us know what they're doing on the site so we can start to really focus in on each and every member and start ramming messages down their throats for stuff they don't need and probably don't want but by then we'll know them better than they know themselves.


Basically, concoct any sort of future-society-gone-bad movie plot that you can and there you have it. Every meeting we came out of, we were more and more depressed and knew, in our heart of hearts, that this would destroy the essence of Toad Games.

So what to do?

We went back to the drawing board, put on our green visors (like the old bankers wore) and started crunching the numbers. And when we were done, we had a plan. It was going to take a whole lot longer to get that Ferrari (or even a gently used Honda) but we knew it was sustainable, preserved the fabric of Toad Games and would allow us to build this site up to what we know it can be. And what we know you want it to be.

And, oddly enough, it should cost less than a gallon of gas per month.

Next time, we'll start to get into the nitty-gritty of the plan and what it means. And by all means, tell us what you think. Comments are open, go nuts (like I need to tell you).