It’s all about the bunny money…

If you’re a premium member of Second Life then you’ll probably be the recipient of an e-mail over the weekend extolling the virtues of Ozimals bunnies. It would appear that Ozimals have decided that they need to attract some new customers to the wonderful world of bunny breeding, and they’ve brought out the big guns and enlisted the help of Linden Labs to attract new avatars into the fold. They’ve even released a ‘Luv Pack’, a special edition bunny package which proves as an introduction to the product. Such a collaboration must have cost them a small fortune.

But are they concentrating too much on attracting new customers into the fold when they should be dealing with existing issues impacting their customer base instead?

If you’re an Ozimal’s bunny enthusiast like myself then you’ll be aware of the recent epic bunny dramas. Big business breeders have been disappearing off the grid like flies, to which some people have responded that this is a good thing because they were evidently purely in it for profit only. But is it actually a good thing at all?  It’s not Ozimals fault that people went mad for all things bunny, purchased vast quantities and set up huge breeding business empires. When the market was good these people would have made a fair whack and I never had any issues with that- why shouldn’t they after all! BUT here’s the thing that people seem to conveniently forget about; the big breeders were buying VAST quantities of food to keep their bunnies breeding, and that means lots of lovely cash for Ozimals. I don’t know why people seem to miss that point! Ozimals is a business after all, and it was good for them when the bunnies were big news. I have no doubt in my mind that the recent exodus from the bunny business by  these large scale breeders has resulted in a noticeable decline in Ozimals profits. Many people thought that the gaps left in the market by these large-scale entrepreneurs would be filled by smaller-scale breeders and that although turnover would be small they’d keep the business thriving, but this doesn’t seem to have happened. For a lot of bunny hobbyists profits have suddenly become negligible.

So; the bunny market effectively crashed, and Ozimals dragged their heels to respond whilst all the time ardent bunny lovers were feeling aggrieved and leaving their bunnies behind. When they did respond, what did they do? An update that included the potential for new traits, to be released on a much slower timescale than before. Initially this seemed like an utterly brilliant idea and I would say the majority of my peers were delighted by the news, and we all set about on updating day getting our bunnies prepped and ready..because the ONLY way to get a new trait is to mate your existing bunny from one of the new warren packs.

Think about this- you have a lot of bunnies that you adore and cherish, but to get a chance at any new shades you have to fork out even more money and purchase new warrens to breed with your existing flock; which in turn means more food to pay for whilst you wait for your prize nest.

And wait you will, because the traits have been engineered to release on a much slower timescale this time; and all the while you’re buying food for your bunnies. When you think about it, Ozimals are astonishingly clever in this respect. This latest update wasn’t just engineered to keep the faith in what is a fabulous breedable, but to keep the lindens flowing.

I’m actually incredibly disappointed by Ozimals. There I’ve said it; shoot me. Since I joined the bunny brigade I’ve been a passionate supporter and ardent defender of  them but I have seen so many people confused, upset and broken by recent events that I’m actually starting to regard Ozimals in a different light. Don’t get me wrong; I think they’ve made a bloody marvellous product, one that I am passionate about , or else I wouldn’t be writing about it, but their approach has been tardy and responses evasive to the point of sheer ridiculousness at times.

I don’t think the bunny market will ever regain it’s place as the number one breedable in Second Life, and I am so very sad about that, because it is definitely the best. What saddens me more however is the fact that Ozimals just don’t see that without the support in-world for their product from bunny enthusiasts like myself, they just won’t have a product in a few months time. With new breedables ready for hitting the grid it’s obvious that they have to change their game to stay ahead of the pack; but at present they seem to serve as a great example to other breedable manufacturers how not to do it. Example? In-world meetings have recently been introduced. These are a weekly event and a great idea, but these should have been instigated from day one. Hindsight is such a glorious thing, but if these meetings had been around before problems could have been nipped in the bud much quicker. Why didn’t they see this? When the uproar about duplicate nests being sold broke, if meetings had been in place they could have addressed the issue in a much better way than it was actually handled . ( Yet another reason why people left the bunny business)

Communication is NOT Ozimals strongest point as has been proven time and time again. People have been waiting around for ages to find out what Bunnybury would offer and when it would be ready..well, now we know what it offers but people are STILL WAITING to be able to use it. Then there’s ‘Socialbun’, a great idea for a website but has it missed the boat. The bunnies peaked and interest is waning, will Socialbun and the ‘Luv Pack’ remedy that fact?  Then there’s the biggest bug-bear of all for a lot of people; what will happen when the bunnies die? This is a question that so many people have asked and have been fobbed off with evasive answers, but the fact is bunnies are starting to age now and are fast approaching their end-of-days. People have built up relationships with these breedables and need to be told what to expect and prepare for it, it is disingenuous and pompous to not respond to people’s questions about this event. In fact, it’s bloody rude.

I don’t really want to accuse Ozimals of resting on their laurels, as I’m sure a lot of hard work goes on behind the scenes, but I can’t help thinking that they took for granted the fact that they had a superior product and dropped the ball. I’ve spoken in the past to team members and they’re all nice people from my experience who work extremely hard , BUT there are failings to be remedied here that require urgent action if Ozimals bunnies are to continue to thrive.

As for me, well I’ve reduced my flock and inventoried a lot of my buns, but this I’ve come to see as a positive thing, because it means when I retrieve them in time from my ‘Sleeping Bunnies’ folder it will be like greeting an old friend.

So what future awaits the breedable bunny? I’m hopeful that perhaps Ozimals have a game-plan that they are waiting to unleash upon the grid that will regain some lost ground, and this promotion with Linden Labs is just the start of a ‘Great Rabbit Renaissance’. I hope they’ll begin to appreciate the need for clear and cohesive communications to their customers. But most of all I hope they will see that the passion their product has aroused in people is very real, and that a virtual world without these virtual critters would be a very sad one indeed. With Halloween on the horizon, and Christmas just after there is plenty of time for new promotions and new bunny traits to be unveiled.

It’s time to restore the faith in the faithful Ozimals..don’t let us down.