Hattrick: .org or .com?

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International Hattrick has always tried to abode to the same conduct and behaviour standards which are used in Hattrick.

We believe that a great game like this, with an even greater and more than extraordinary community, should keep in mind several aspects beyond the game.

There are values, such as fair play, equality and honesty, which used to be defended in Hattrick; however, they are losing importance and seem to be senseless in this project with no profit motive in mind, where dollars outweigh the values and principles of a society which is steadily deteriorating due to actions like the one we are going to explain.

 

First, let us brief our readers on the current background.

It is well known by some that Hattrick is losing users and Supporters. These last ones are those who help the game’s development and maintenance through donations. In exchange for their help, Hattrick offers them a set of additional options in the game.

Since IHTVer? began monitoring the amount of users, Hattrick has lost a significant share of them: on April 28th, 2010, there were 887,227 users, whereas on August 14th, 2010, their number had dropped to 847,915. This means that the number of users has decreased in a percentage of 4.43% in only three and a half months, or to put it another way, an average loss of 1.2% a month. This means that, should this downward trend continue, Hattrick would loss an amount of users which would equal the entire Spanish community over a year, which comprises about 10% of the green community.

Hattrick developers must know these data, as their last decisions reveal that they have been trying to improve the current trend. Some of their last actions have been increasing the price of Supporter “donations” in 14.6% or launching competitions whose only aim is to bring new users and get low-cost promotion.

Remarkably, the Supporter refund policy has changed recently, and now “donations” aren’t refunded when users decide that they do not want to keep aiding the game.  Before this change, an amount of money, proportional to the time in which the user hadn’t enjoyed Supporter options, was refunded, but not anymore.

In any case, let us look at these competitions and official announcements to get a clear view of things.

 

Hattrick Invitational, published on August 11th, 2010:

"This is an ideal time for rookie managers to join Hattrick - it's simply more fun to start a team when you have a fresh season ahead of you. Especially if you have a friend by your side who can help explain what Hattrick is all about."

 

It is obvious that this is the ideal moment for launching this initiative. Especially when we notice that if the current trend goes on, the game could disappear. So the developers decided to start this “competition” to get new users, and set requirements such as these users should register in less than three weeks or that they should stay for at least one full season.

In exchange for this, those who managed to bring new users to Hattrick would be able to receive one of 100 Hattrick t-shirts, which mean even more advertising. So you could even bring new people to the game without any display or gratitude nor a reward. Only a hundred people of those who entered their friends into Hattrick would get a t-shirt, meaning that if there are, for instance, five hundred people who did it, four hundred wouldn’t get any reward, and, possibly, no gratitude either.

That said, any user who registered through that initiative and made a “donation” for a Supporter package for a year, whoever brought him into Hattrick would get three free months of Supporter. In other words, “I get you a donor for one year and you give me back three months of something which isn’t of any worth to you”. Perfect! That’s a fair exchange indeed.

This is the first marketing strategy of the developers. Let’s look at the second one:

 

U20Ver? World Cup XV: Hosting Competition, published on June 11th, 2010:

"This season the HFA is launching a new process to select which country will have the honour of hosting the next U20 World Cup! Communities from around the globe get to work together and make a bid for their country. These bids need to be made as a website (a blog will do as well) explaining why YOUR country should be the next host of the U20 HT WC and what would make your event more interesting and engaging for the worldwide Hattrick community. The more involved your community is the better! Perhaps an HP article? An official logo? Mascots? Signs? Be creative! Show us what you can do!"

 


Even when it looks like an attempt to advertise national teams within Hattrick, this is nothing but another marketing strategy, as they get free promotion through the Internet thanks to the main requirement.

We will now analyze this “competition”, which has created the most controversy over the last few days and probably caused the most annoyance in the Hattrick community. Not only because the voting system is unfair for bigger nations, but also because the community is encouraged to participate when 60% of the votes come from game developers and their team, which is more than enough than you would need to fix any democratic process.

 

"Criteria:

- Originality and creativity.

- Quality of work.

- Involvement of the community (threads on national forum, interests drummed up).

Bonus : Prospect of new users and media attention.
Should we get a great number of bids, we will make a preselection cutting it down to 8 Finalists.
"

 

Please keep in mind that criteria – that way, what follows next will look as science fiction at best. Let us review them one by one, starting from the last requirement.

  • Involvement of the community (threads on national forum, interests drummed up): we believe that the acceptance and participation in this competition in the Spanish forum was unprecedented. The initiative has been followed by much more people than many of those who follow national teams could think of. Before the winner was chosen, more than three thousand posts about the competition had been written, and at the time of writing this article, we were just six messages shy of four thousand.
  • Quality of work: as we have actively participated on the Spanish bid, it is not appropriate for us to comment on its quality, something that you can do by yourselves by looking at the new about it, but we still can value others, and we can say that the bids from Poland, the USA, India or Guatemala were, in our opinion, a great achievement. Most of the countries had done a great job, an effort which may have not paid off ultimately. You can look at all the bids in the thread (14233576.1) so that you can get an opinion by yourselves.
  • Originality and creativity: Lastly, this has been by far the most controversial point. Many bids had similar ideas – some were well-developed; others, not so well, but generally speaking, most have invested many hours in developing original contents and designs and being as creative as they could. However, the winning bid, which was mainly chosen by the Hattrick staffVer?, who gave it 38 out of 39 points, has copied a complete design and plagiarized a copyrighted logotype. Even so, the game developers ruled out that this was the best bid they received, disregarding their own criteria.

Let us dig a bit deeper here. In order to clarify what has already been stated, we will show here the links of a comment which has appeared many times in the Hattrick forums thanks to many users from many different countries.

The web of the winning bid: http://u20wcbih.tk/ 

Author’s note: we regret not inserting a link here, but we believe that such a website is not worthy of being linked from our website.

The web whose design was copied: http://www.gillettefudbal.ba/

Plagiarized logo: www.worldfootballinsider.com/_img/articles/kkkilhwp.nmk.jpg

After the reader has formed an opinion about it, we must comment on the fact that the explanations which the authors of the bid have given have been vague and baseless, whereas those given by users from the winning community have been different, as there have been up to three different versions which tried to explain what happened.

 

Conclusions

International Hattrick will not try and value Hattrick’s marketing policies, as we are not entitled to do so, neither do we have the right to do it, but we can comment on the ways in which these policies are carried out – and that is where we must be critical, truly critical indeed. The community is what keeps Hattrick alive and what is in pain for the decisions which Hattrick take.

HT'sVer?, you, as a public entity, you have several duties which you need to observe, regardless of it is in Stockholm, Madrid or Beijing.

You cannot say that you do not allow users to talk about piracy on your forums, yet reward plagiarism of copyrighted contents and designs.

You cannot say that you do not allow discrimination or racism on your forums, yet there are messages on which it is said that the biggest HT-countries, such as Spain, should not be able to take part in this kind of competition.

Lastly, and, in our opinion, most importantly, the example you will set and the image you will send to thousands of children and teenagers who play cannot consists of principles like “lie, copy and plagiarize so that you can win a competition”, especially when these principles are nothing but a marketing campaign of which you, and only you, will be solely benefitted.

HT's, Hattrick is a great game which you have developed – without any profit motive in mind, as you say –, but, please, do not turn this game into a platform to make the world a worse place in which money is above moral values as important as truth, honesty, equality and fair play.

Please reconsider your decisions, look behind in retrospect so that you can stop the project from moving in the wrong direction. Act with and for the community, not through and without it.

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