Only on the internet have I come across so many people that expect so much for so little. I always expected I’d have to pay for, well just about everything in life actually. You know, TANSTAAFL* and all that. When I started spending a lot of time online I began to see a lot of ‘free’ stuff. Free web hosting, free email, free mice, free mouse pads, free pens, free games, free message boards, free artwork, free this, that and the other thing. It seemed that every one had something they wanted to give me for free. Of course, it was often like that Buck-A-Book store. They never have any books I want — not even for a buck. Until I started writing for this site, I never wanted most of the stuff I was offered online — not even for free.
In the halcyon days of XRGaming, free hosting was really cool. It was even cooler when they sent me a check for fifty bucks. Not only was hosting free, but we could make money. We didn’t actually have a product and none of our readers were buying anything and I knew if I wasn’t clicking on the ads they probably weren’t either but I wasn’t about to call UGO up and ask them if they were out of their minds for sending XRGaming money every month. I was just happy they were doing it. So was everyone else. And so we went merrily along never thinking (or quickly banishing such thoughts were they to appear) of a future in which something for nothing might not be a reality.
A generation came of age during this time. A generation of people that expect something for nothing. I’m not talking about this site. You all seem very happy to contribute to the welfare of this site and I’m very grateful. But in the comments to the EQ Maps article, I see quite a few people thinking that they are still going to get something for nothing. I must admit I don’t understand their reasoning. Because the free sites are going away. We’ve been reporting on site closings almost daily for months now, and <a href=”http://www.lumthemad.net/news/1809.php”the closings show no sign of slowing down.
If that wasn’t enough links for you, I’m sure you will be happy to know I only had to go back one month, to the beginning of March, to link every word in that sentence. Still don’t get it?
Free sites won’t be around much longer. You are going to pay, whether you like it or not. Some of you will pay in the form of subscriptions, some in the form of donations, some in the form of pop-up ads. But pay you will. Free sites will eventually close up. The better sites will start charging. Even the sites that are not better will charge. But they won’t make enough to cover their costs and they will close too. Soon, if you want those maps, you’ll have to make them yourselves or pay for them.
This is not an altogether bad thing.
There is entirely too much garbage on the internet (you might consider this site as part of that garbage and I’m not going to argue with you.) Now granted, sites closing right and left isn’t going to make all the trash magically dissappear. On the other hand if all the places on the internet where you can get game maps consolidate into a handful of sites, this won’t upset me. Show me any video game out today and I’ll show you over a dozen sites devoted to that game. There are sites devoted to games that don’t even EXIST anymore. There are sites devoted to games that don’t actually have any content yet — these sites show content that players would like to be in the game (player concept art, anyone?).
I’m all about ‘you get what you pay for.’ Right now I don’t pay a damn thing for the content I view on a regular basis. I’m also all about supporting the sites I like. This is an attitude many of you would do well to adopt lest you lose the sites you like so much. No, there will not always be someone who will provide whatever for free. I guarantee you that the people who started sites, like us here at Lum’s, didn’t think about dealing with a future in which you didn’t get everything for free, and are stumbling about trying to find solutions… just like we are. The sooner you realize that and start supporting the sites you care about the better the chance those sites have of surviving this mess.
*TANSTAAFL “There ain’t no such thing as a free lunch.” from the book The Moon Is A Harsh Mistress by Robert A. Heinlien