I suspect that some people are going to be very angry at me for writing this blogpost, but I’ve been watching things over at High Fidelity with a growing sense of unease.
Back in April, Philip Rosedale dropped the bombshell announcement that they were shutting down all the publicly hosted spaces, and that High Fidelity was pivoting towards the business market. As part of those changes, the regular user General Assembly would be discontinued and replaced with a monthly developers’ meetup. Here is the livestream of that last General Assembly meeting on April 4th, 2019, if you haven’t already watched it:
And here’s the livestream of the most recent Developers’ Discussion held on June 14th, 2019. Notice anything interesting about the thumbnail High Fidelity chose for this video?
Yeah, your eyes are not fooling you. They reused the image taken from the April meeting. Why, you might ask yourself? Well, here’s an actual screenshot from the second video:
That’s quite a drop in attendance, wouldn’t you say? Yes, this is a different and much more technical audience, but what happened to all the people who were active supporters of High Fidelity and who used to come out to meetings?
Most recently, longtime members of the High Fidelity discussion forums (which have been noticeably quieter lately) got a rather unpleasant surprise: their previous “trusted member” levels had been downgraded to standard membership. Some commented:
Is it just me, or is there a general overall sense of HiFi turning off the lights, shutting down various systems, and in general just downgrading services to their loyal userbase? High Fidelity has also shut down the feature request list as of June 1st, 2019, announcing they would no longer triage feature requests from users. (I would put in a link, but that list is now completely gone.)
On top of that, at the top of the redesigned homepage, there’s a brand new page extolling the virtues of High Fidelity for remote work teams. All very well and good, and looking very professional, but as I have said before, there’s absolutely no guarantee that HiFi will be successful at re-positioning its platform for business users (God knows there are already lots of companies jostling for marketshare in this arena already, many of whom seem to be struggling to attract customers.)
And yes, I have heard of at least one developer (whose work was previously proudly mentioned by Philip Rosedale) who is actively looking for another platform for their HiFi project. I’m not going to say who it is, but I doubt they are the only ones who are looking at alternatives.
Who’s staying with High Fidelity? Who’s leaving? Who isn’t sure what they are going to do next? Feel free to leave a comment on this blogpost, or join the ongoing discussion on the RyanSchultz.com Discord channel, where we discuss events happening on any and all social VR/virtual world platforms.