A View from Christopher Mims
Facebook Virtual Girlfriend Violates Terms of Service
‘Dating sims’ are coming to the U.S. in some form or another–why not on a social network?
Some startups don’t make it past the phase where they build a mailing list of users for their service, and if Cloud Girlfriend isn’t one of them, I will gladly eat my hat.
Update: looks like I’m going to be eating my hat – Cloud Girlfriend is real, and plans to employ actual women.
Cloud Girlfriend is a service that will allow you to “connect and interact with [your perfect girlfriend whom you have defined] on your favorite social network.” It’s already experiencing overwhelming demand, so its launch page urges potential customers to “Register early to get in line.”
Unless it’s powered by actual human beings, Cloud Girlfriend is almost certainly a violation of Facebook’s Terms of Service, which disallow accounts that do not belong to real people. That’s too bad (from a business perspective) because it’s very likely that a service like this could succeed.
Don’t believe me? Japan has an entire resort town catering to men and their virtual girlfriends, who inhabit a game called Love Plus. Like the legion role playing games that never made it off the island but have subsequently been ported by devoted fans anyway, the dating sim is one of those exports whose time has come.
American males are experiencing a mancession, after all, which has made them less desirable as mates and more likely to remain in a state of indefinite adultescence. A virtual girlfriend is about all they can handle right now, thanks very much. How else to explain the explosion of interest in Cloud Girlfriend, which at this point is just a launch page brought to you by a company that makes it easy for any joker to set up a launch page?
It’s entirely possible that Cloud Girlfriend, or a service like it, could operate within Facebook’s app ecosystem, adding updates to user timelines and sending friends messages just like Farmville and its ilk. North American gamers have already indicated a receptivity to dating sims: relationships are so integral to the massively popular Dragon Age that its creators are considering a subsequent “romance pack” expansion – in essence, the first big-name dating sim ever to hit U.S. shores.