Thursday, April 26, 2012


Okay, so if you haven't been here for this whole Urban Taggers thing, catch up here and here and read on.

Just a few days ago, Hasbro could ignore this community whenever it suited them.

We represent a relatively small portion of Hasbro's customer base, giving them few traditional reasons to care about us.  We have a modicum of power, however, in the fact that we know a lot more about what makes die-hard fans than Hasbro does.  We tell them what works, more believably than the enraged Amazon commenter and more competently than a random toy fair attendee.  The forthcoming Elite product line's primary gimmick - its range - is proof enough that Hasbro is interested in giving us what we want- as long as it's on their own terms, of course. 

So we do have some measure of value to them, and we are supposed to take the Elite line as a sort of  reward for this. But the path Hasbro carves for our satisfaction is also a source of our subversion, as the Elite line quietly downplays the significance of the modding sector- one of our community's largest and most important group of participants towards which Hasbro has long directed a surly grimace.  And yet, in front of us they've produced this thing that we want, and not only do they know we want it, we also told them what to do to make us want it.  You can get away with a lot when you make things people want.

It is certainly important that we are in fact both seen and heard by Hasbro, but the nuts and bolts of it all is that they use us; it is simply how corporations behave.  It is silly to expect something else.  If customers are needed by a company for anything other than money, then their next task is certainly to act as the focus group for the acquisition of additional money.  The amount of tact and congeniality a company displays in its processes may vary, but in the end they are largely about dollars while we are more about thoughts, creation, and discourse among ourselves. 

These principles can easily be set against each other, but it doesn't take much to see which has more muscle.  They have used us, they will use us again, and it will be legal when they do it.  That's just commerce.  Hasbro falling into line with its nature as a business does not excuse their handling of the Urban Taggers affair, however, and the community has helped them to know it.  They have felt the earth rumbling, and moved like lightning to secure stable ground.  They have lawyers, but the internet is a powerful weapon, and our community calls it home.  If they underestimated the power the web has to push back, they were certainly not the first.  Hasbro has been burned by these events, but seems content to lick their wounds cautiously for the time being.  Pocket may end up with a small settlement and Hasbro may tread a little lighter while attempting to sort out whatever internal problem with leaks is chaffing them so badly.  Whether or not there are more developments in store, this community has already affected events.  That is promising stuff, and probably not at all what Hasbro was expecting.


1 comment:

  1. I appreciate your level-headed and thought provoking analysis as always.