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Old 08-27-2017, 11:50 PM   #1
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Lightbulb Why Webkinz has gone downhill and better solutions in a better more perfect world

Long title? Yes, I know, I know. First of all, a couple Elephants in the room. Go ahead, take a look at my join date. Yes, I just joined today, but I've had a Webkinz account since early 2007, so I might have a little to say on the subject. The next thing that I'd like to point out is, I've been looking at a lot of the recent threads on here, and most of you have join dates from 2007-2009, so most of us are actually pretty old and in the same age range (i'm 18, a freshman in college at this point, mind), which is why I have no qualms typing out something like this in a place that you'd think was for children. This isn't an angry assessment on my part, at least, not anymore it isn't. Little backstory on my behalf, one day I was sitting in my Web Design class, and I was really bored, so I turned to my friend and laughed, and got on webkinz. Much to my surprise, when I logged in it said that it had been archived, but they could retrieve it. (I was expecting the account to just be deleted, so I was kind of happy, I really wanted that nostalgia rush). So, I was able to log in, and look at all of my pets from when I was a kid, all 19 of them, to be in fact. I know a lot of you have even more, but to me that seems like a bunch, because these things weren't cheap! Anyways, what I encountered was not the Webkinz that I had grown up loving. It was riddled with ads, and there was a deluxe membership option, and the games that I wanted to play (namely Polar Plunge) weren't options for me anymore. What happened? Why was it telling me that I had to buy another pet to play games, when I had 19 perfectly good ones sitting right there? I went to the park to see if anyone else was playing this horrid take on a game I had once loved, and there were a few people there. At the time, I assumed they were little kids, as that's the target audience. Now that I think about it, it was the middle of the school day, they wouldn't have been on. Plus, my two little sisters barely know what webkinz are, especially the youngest one, who never ever had an account. They don't even sell Webkinz in Cracker Barrel anymore, and I don't see them at Toys R Us either.

There are several key instances here as to why Webkinz started going down a rocky slope and where they are now. Firstly, back when I was a kid, everyone had Webkinz. They quickly out-popularized My Littlest Petshop (which is still popular to this day, more on that later though) and where imitated by several other toy companies. Anyone remember Pound Puppies online? Yeah me neither What I'm trying to convey here, is that when Webkinz was in its hey day, it thrived. So what happened? Simple, we all grew up. Most of us grew out of it, we left. Webkinz could feel its consumer base leaving, people weren't buying the stuffed animals anymore. So they came out with a new line of plushies. Webkinz signatures, more expensive, yet more realistic. Worth the money. I remember seeing those in Cracker Barrel and wanting them. My parents never got one for me, they thought I was getting too old. If only they could see me now The thing is, my friends' interest in Webkinz was starting to slip, but the new line of Webkinz made them re-interested. Webkinz Signatures kept ganz afloat for a while longer.

Now, somewhere along the line Signatures and Deluxe Memberships overlap in the timeline. I'm not sure how long after signatures came out that the Memberships became a thing like they are now, as I wasn't on Webkinz for very much longer after they came out. I can say the reason the Deluxe Memberships were launched though. The Signatures were just a temporary fix. Any smart business person could see that. I'm sure Ganz saw that too, they were just buying more time to come up with a more permanent fix. I guess they saw Memberships as being that option. I don't have any problems with sites using a paid membership option, it's just that there are features that used to be available to everyone on Webkinz, that have now been taken away. What they should have done is added new, super appealing features that would only be available to deluxe members.

Also, they should have taken into account how much money a user had already contributed to being on the site. It used to be that you had to buy a stuffed animal to make a Webkinz account. Then they made purchasable codes, but still, you had to buy a pet. As someone who has 19 pets, I feel like I've contributed a lot of my personal money to webkinz, something that I can't say about any other childhood website, because I never spent another penny on any other site as a kid. Now, if you sign up for a new account, they give you a free pet. Which is a wonderful idea, this gives people a way to play completely free. Now, is it the smartest idea? No, its not, but, I assume that's why whenever you try to play a deluxe game or feature, it tells you to buy a pet, or pay for. a membership. I'm sure after buying a pet, you only have so long before your deluxe status runs out, just like the regular memberships. Overall, the business strategy of this switch wasn't entirely wrong, but most of the people that are my age I see complaining about the new deluxe memberships, are clearly unhappy with the changes. If Ganz would have only taken into account how long its older members had loyally stayed with them, and how much time and money they had already put into their pets, they could have at least given a month's pardon for the membership, basically a month free membership, or maybe even longer, depending on certain cases. they could have emailed codes to people for free pets, if not the membership idea, but something would have been better than the awful transition into this age of membership, that makes it feel like we're being slapped on the wrists because people stopped buying their products.

Also, let me tie up some loose ends. Remember what I said about LPS earlier? That brand is still thriving! They've become innovative with their products, and they changed up the marketing as soon as they felt their user base leaving, so they could pull in more children that were actually in their target age group. That's smart! They added accessories to their pets, more play-sets, more customization, and they came out with something entirely new, a girl to own all of them. Now they have their own tv show. If Webkinz had shown a little more ingenuity after their Signature line first came out, they could have revamped their brand, they could have drummed up more interest for themselves in the children that they're made for, they could have avoided this whole mess altogether, and they could have been the ones with a popular tv series. That's just a little food for thought, though, it's all too late for that now.

If anyone actually reads all of that, please tell me your thoughts. Maybe clear up some things for me with the transition from Signatures to Deluxe Membership, because most of the time between that is one big gray blob for me. And, if you do read this, thanks. I really, truly appreciate it. Bye!
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Old 08-28-2017, 10:10 AM   #2
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Default Re: Why Webkinz has gone downhill and better solutions in a better more perfect world

Oh yes, WW (Webkinz World) is a LOT more different than what you remember it to be however many years ago you left. Ganz decided to change WW up a bit (more like a lot tbh) & with that they launched Webkinz X back in July of 2015 (I'm pretty sure). I highly recommend (Along with so many other people) that you get AdBlock, it gets rid of all of those pesky ads both on WW & WI. But if you want to do any activities you'll have to disable it but that won't really be a problem (just gotta remember it could be a factor if you don't see anything). Ganz has started to make things Deluxe ONLY & that's basically their way of nickel & diming people. Buying a pet extends your account's life out by another year, so it won't become a "free" account & be extremely limited/restricted. Remember, not everyone goes back to school in August (I know I went back in September, next week actually) so they could've been adults although there's no way to really tell. Webkinz really aren't sold everywhere like they once used to, you can get them pretty cheap like at Dollar Tree or Five Below. The craze/hype for them has severely gone down over the past several-few years.

I ended up getting Deluxe Membership when it originally first came out & man I loved it. It was so exciting especially with all of the new features such as changing the color of your dock, spin the Deluxe Wheel, & a ton of other things. They're trying to get more & more members to become Deluxe & I think with some more time they'll actually accomplish that. Then more members will start to slip away bc not everyone wants to pay money for an online game, especially as much as Deluxe sometimes can be.

I have about 200 pets on my account so I definitely know too how much money was already invested in my account & then you add Deluxe on top of that, it totally gets a bit too expensive. It's like a free trial basically, gives you the opportunity to play around for a bit to see if you want to continue playing & buy more pets or if it just isn't for you. A lot of people are unhappy with the changes, I kinda am but I don't really play anymore, but I know in the beginning when all of this happened I was quite upset.

It's good for a company to change things up bc if you never change anything you lose customers but the drastic change Ganz made was definitely NOT the way they should've gone about it. They could've done sooo many more things differently but they sadly didn't, which makes them pay the price now (as well as members).

I actually did read all of that, I have too much time on my hands at the moment . I don't really don't know what to say about the signatures & deluxe, I can't remember which came first but I know both were expensive at the time. I only ever got one signature & that was the Signature Australian Shepard I know I wanted more but just never got around to buying them. Maybe another member can clarify that part a bit more, better than I can.

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Old 08-28-2017, 10:12 AM   #3
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Default Re: Why Webkinz has gone downhill and better solutions in a better more perfect world

First of all, welcome Tigerfur! Thanks for taking the time to put your thoughts forward and in such a way that it did not come across as an angry rant. While we've all been angry now and then, I believe we've seen plenty of those rants already.

Now, much of what you said is more or less the feeling for many of us. The ads on free accounts cause WW to become practically unplayable. The deluxe membership has commandeered many of the games and items. The estore being introduced into the W shop, without any way of separating the kinzcash items, is cause for many grumbles. Let's be honest, $5.00 for one chair is a bit overpriced. Perhaps if that payment unlocked the item so that it could be purchased from the W shop in an unlimited supply it would seem like a more reasonable cost. As it stands, I've not found a single game that charges so much for individual items. See the SIMS model, for all of EA's faults, their expansion (furniture sets) pricing is an excellent value.

That said, I do not find it unreasonable that to continue playing, with all the bells and whistles, a user must keep paying. Any online subscription game would require payment for reactivation. That we have options, adopt a pet, or purchase a membership, is also very appealing. What you said about making additions for deluxe, rather than additions and subtractions, I think is quite fair. IF a person adopts a pet to continue that is. Expecting Ganz to continue to foot the bill for the expenses of the game without requesting any payment, even from those players that have already spent a good deal, simply doesn't seem practical. They have made numerous upgrades and, whether or not players are for them, they cost to provide.

The upcoming month is an excellent example of where our money is going. September is filled with floaty-click events. The acorn collecting. Seeing the Mayor each day for a prize. Not to mention upgrades going on unannounced. I only discovered yesterday that the princess hat, a long time item in the W shop, now has a rippling tassel! All of these things cost Ganz to produce and maintain. Now I'm not making any guesses as to their level of greed. Perhaps they are a bit piggish about money, perhaps not. I only say that there is evidence of their putting time and money into keeping WW going and enjoyable. And as they are a business, they can't afford just to break even, or worse, provide all of this for free.

In short, I think of it this way: Whether adopting a new pet or buying a deluxe membership, you are purchasing a rental with the corresponding perks included. When the time allotted for that rental expires, like any other sort of reoccurring bill, you forfeit whatever services were provided, unless you choose to renew your agreement.

That's my thinking anyway. I'm sorry that you found your return so disappointing and I do hope you find a way to enjoy yourself in WW, or at the very least, part with it amicably. Good luck to you!

* Deluxe membership was introduced April 1st 2009. During that same month, the Signature Panda (the first signature pet) was also released. So it seems they pretty much began at the same time.

Last edited by Aeza; 08-28-2017 at 10:18 AM..
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Old 08-28-2017, 12:32 PM   #4
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Default Re: Why Webkinz has gone downhill and better solutions in a better more perfect world

Ganz has very strongly given out 3 messages to their loyal customers over the years-
1. They don't really want customer communications. They have reduced their ways to communicate with them to a very limited few customers and a very limited response, even to them.
2. They reserve the right to remove/delete any or all purchases made by customers, with no notice or explanations at all.
3. They have lied to their customers. They have promised that they would fix critical errors, and have yet to do so.

The features that were immensely popular were taken away and replaced by things that no one liked.
They do not honor even the very loyal customers that paid thousands of dollars into their business, when it was starting up. They tossed those customers aside.
It doesn't matter at all what people pay into it. Everything can be taken away at any moment.
Basically, they demand that customers follow the contract to the letter, but they themselves can break the contract in any way, at any time, and no one can do anything about it.

If they ever decided to go back to the sweet game that it was, I might consider playing again. But for now, the rooms that I loved, and worked hard to decorate, have become sparse. (due to the items that simply disappeared)

Last edited by Desty; 08-28-2017 at 12:35 PM..
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Old 08-31-2017, 10:06 PM   #5
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Default Re: Why Webkinz has gone downhill and better solutions in a better more perfect world

My family has played since 2007 and gone with the flow of all the changes. It was inevitable that webkinz would have to change its biz model. It wasn't sustainable and the online game market has changed. I really do not think the deluxe is too much money. For the year it is only $3.75 a month. Even though many mobile/ipad/phone games are "free" they truly are not and are free to just get you in the download door. The true cost of most mobile games to play at a good level is way more than $3.75 a month. I have been happy over all with webkinz and feel I get my bang for the buck. And I hope it continues many many more years.
I am sure the ads is a way to keep the deluxe price down. Most all gaming aps have commercials where you get in game currency "gems".
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Old 08-31-2017, 11:38 PM   #6
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Default Re: Why Webkinz has gone downhill and better solutions in a better more perfect world

Welcome, Tigerfur!

I may have to read your post again to take it all in!

I'm a mom who plays and now maintains the accounts of my daughters and their friends. My oldest dd, who just got married and is going to college, still loves Webkinz but she doesn't have much time to play. So I keep her informed and it is still fun to have someone to talk to about Webkinz.

Webkinz for me is a place to de-stress. And during all the transitions I made a conscious decision to not get upset over some of the changes. That choice really helped keep Webkinz enjoyable for me, overall. (That doesn't mean that I never got angry every once in a while, because occasionally that would happen!) Anyway, two years ago I finally decided to try Deluxe and I love it. My rationale is that I shouldn't feel badly about spending money on Webkinz....after all my husband spends money on his hobbies, such as bowling or going to baseball games. Just this week, I bought 18 Webkinz (with unused codes) from a friend who is cleaning her house. I am thrilled!

Also, I have found GANZ employees to be extremely helpful via e-mail, phone & FB. The latest thing they have promoted is something called Helping Paws, which I basically see as an effort to find new members.

I've tried to imagine how I would feel if WW would automatically disappear. I would definitely be sad. I would have to search for a new hobby. And I would also be free from my addiction! Ha ha!

Anyway, for now, I'm glad that it is still available.
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Old 09-01-2017, 10:14 PM   #7
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Default Re: Why Webkinz has gone downhill and better solutions in a better more perfect world

I have been playing since 2006 and I know there have been many changes but most of them have been good.

I am probably one of the few who doesn't mind paying to play an online game - it takes people time and money to develop things, design things, fix things, etc. (and there have been a ton of fixes since changing to "X"). I'm not sure why anyone should work for free, I sure wouldn't want to.

I take care of 5 accounts (grown stepson, a few of my own, and my grandmonkeys). I would really miss Webkinz if it went away. I use it to de-stress and prefer it over the FB games. Between all accounts I have well over 250 pets. I also used to get the trading cards, the clothes, the cologne, etc for the codes. The only thing I'm a little disappointed in is that all those items I got from the cards/cologne/etc have been given out as prizes since, so they aren't so "exclusive" any more.
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Old 09-07-2017, 10:54 AM   #8
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Default Re: Why Webkinz has gone downhill and better solutions in a better more perfect world

Creeping out of the lurk-zone to offer a few comments. I too have been playing since early 2007 and I can attest that Webkinz has had its fair share of ups-and-downs. The Webkinz business model has a very interesting history that I am sure that a more qualified business major student could write a pretty decent case report on the subject. When Webkinz first began, as Tigerfur mentioned, they thrived. Webkinz, Club Penguin, and Neopets all seemed to have their own specialized niche in the budding realm of online virtual communities. The decision to create Deluxe Memberships was not exclusive to Webkinz because many other MMOs offered their own form of extended membership. Even today, the free portion of Webkinz is still pretty decent if compared to Club Penguin Island or Animal Jam. I agree that the membership is a little pricey, which is why I live for those 50% discount days around the holidays. I am no longer buying too many pets which is why the $20 is worth a years worth of play. Considering all the other subscription services out there, $20 for a whole year is a steal!

As for the current and future state of Webkinz, I would think that they are doing pretty well considering the decline of online virtual communities. While Webkinz X is taking a little longer to implement, I think it was a smart decision to be able to keep up with changing software and technology. Changing software platforms is not an easy task and I am rather impressed with how well the company has handled everything. In addition, I feel that Webkinz is entering a new era. Sure the pets are getting a little repetitive (too many dogs in my opinion...) but there have been plenty of contests and community events to keep things from feeling too static. Webkinz staff have done a great job with podcasts, updating social media accounts, and recognizing that there are other platforms of the Webkinz fanbase by showcasing Kinztagrams, fan art, and videos.

While Webkinz may be lacking some of that charm from the golden years, I believe that they are still staying afloat. I am excited for what they have in store and am looking forward to the mobile app becoming more like the browser version because I personally prefer the app because it is so easy to use!
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Old 09-07-2017, 04:57 PM   #9
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Default Re: Why Webkinz has gone downhill and better solutions in a better more perfect world

I've also been a fan of webkinz ever since it started. My sister and I were OBSESSED and have probably collected 30 of them total. Sadly our old accounts have probably been deleted by now.

Personally I think Deluxe Member is ok, the sites still playable without it. Only time I'd really buy it would be for a month and it was just to stock up on furniture/clothes that are deluxe only. My biggest issue is the taking over the e-store. Idk about you but I'd rather not spend $100 out of my paycheck for all this new cool furniture, I have college to go to!
I dont have a problem with the estore itself- but I think e-points becoming completely integrated into the game itself, most new webkinz becoming virtual and no longer plushes, all new room themes coming out can only be bought with points.... it just makes the game so much less fun to play because it feels like I cant keep up with it. I've got SO much kinzcash and nothing to spend it on anymore! I think they have a lot of work to do there.
The whole fun of webkinz for me as a sentimental person and collector is having the plushies! You buy the plush and getting to play with it online was the bonus for me. I can't justify spending $15 on a virtual pet ill probably forget about in a year y'know? the plushes are soo hard to find now because of its decrease in popularity too. really turns me off from playing.
With Webkinz X, i havent had any items problems myself, but my current account is on the newer side so that could very well be it. I DO wish they would actually work on fixing things they've been saying theyre working on since the update first happened. dont know if theyre low on staff or whats goin on, but webkinz definitely has a ton of work to do before it can be compared to how it was before.
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Old 09-09-2017, 08:26 PM   #10
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Default Re: Why Webkinz has gone downhill and better solutions in a better more perfect world

I must admit to not reading much after "so most of us are actually pretty old and in the same age range (i'm 18"



By this logic I'm positively ancient. I've been playing since 2007 as well and have kept playing through all the changes. I pay for Deluxe because 1) I can afford it and 2) I don't assume that I should be able to get something for nothing.

Webkinz has put a lot of work into boosting it's mobile app. That investment makes me happy. It means they expect Webkinz World to stick around.

I don't know where they are getting new customers. But logic says they must be still making $$ because they are still around and still investing in the product.

The rest is just noise. If you don't like it, don't play.

Last edited by Mommy Bear; 09-10-2017 at 09:05 AM..
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