Loveseat in High Fidelity: Leaving Ticket Buyers to Fend for Themselves?

I’ve received a report that people who bought tickets to go see Loveseat, the theatrical comedy VR event taking place this week and next in High Fidelity and simultaneously at the Venice International Film Festival, are not being given sufficient information they need to access the event. One person told me:

Do you know where to go see the Loveseat [event] in High Fidelity going on today? Signed up yesterday for today’s event….but cannot seem to find where they are holding it. The ticket does not give specifics. Any ideas?

I asked about this on the High Fidelity user forums, and Emily, the community manager for HiFi, replied:

Although Loveseat is happening in High Fidelity, we are not organizing this event. Please contact the organizer through Eventbrite for more information. The domain should be hifi://Loveseat, but I would check with the organizer to be sure (also check on timing). Thank you!

And I’m thinking to myself: Why is High Fidelity deliberately distancing themselves from a high-profile event that shows off their platform to a brand new audience? This hands-off attitude strikes me as very odd. I guess High Fidelity really wasn’t kidding when they said they wouldn’t be involved with any more events since their pivot away from the consumer market in April 2019.

Can you imagine another social VR platform responding with “Sorry, but it’s not our event” in a similar situation? Any other company would be falling all over themselves to help out, both with the event organizer and with the customers, to make the event the very best it can be and to show off the platform to its best potential. This is free advertising for the platform, people! It’s almost as if HiFi sees this marquee event as a nuisance, something they just have to put up with until it’s over, so they can go back to focusing on enterprise users again.

And why the hell can’t the organizers provide enough information (such as the name of the High Fidelity domain, a key piece of information) to the people who have bought tickets for this event through EventBrite? We shouldn’t have to go hunting around to find this information. Bill Mar said on the Federated Hifi Users Group Discord:

Nothing from Double Eye Studios via Eventbrite about the HiFi domain as expected. My contacts at the festival aren’t able to get onto the Island yet. I’m hoping they sort out their technical difficulties in subsequent showtimes and [I] asked people in my meetup group to get tickets for other dates just in case they are successful. It’s very impressive they are doing it on an island at this scale. My team was only able to do it with under a dozen people so far.

Shouldn’t all this have been worked out weeks ahead of time? For such a marquee event, this is pretty inexcusable. Yes, I am in a cranky mood tonight, and yes, I have been criticizing High Fidelity a lot lately on this blog. Perhaps all the blame for this current mess should be laid at the feet of Double Eye Studios, the producer of the show.

But I have been watching High Fidelity ever since their abrupt pivot to the enterprise market last April, and I am not liking what I see happening.

Yes, I am feeling cranky. But I think I have reason to be cranky. I see a company that has all but abandoned its original user community, the raving fans who helped build the platform into what it was. How much would it have hurt High Fidelity to keep things like regular community meetings? The users who put so much time and toil into High Fidelity over the past six years deserve to be treated better than this. As I have said before, this is a textbook classic case of alienating your best customers.

UPDATE Aug. 28th: I have received yet another message from yet another content creator who is leaving High Fidelity (I am keeping this person’s name anonymous):

It seems High Fidelity is a lost cause for now, as they have moved on and ghosting us. We’ve decided today to abandon our HiFi work and migrate to better suited platforms.

Seriously, how long is it going to be until the last person left turns off the lights? And what’s even worse, all of this could have been so easily avoided! This pivot could have been handled much, much better.

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