Animation website Xtranormal — whose cartoon-making tools have spawned viral videos of cuddly puppies debating such topics as quantitative easing and the iPhone in stilted monotones — is no longer offering free, unlimited use of its tools.
The change reflects the higher costs of running Xtranormal as the site's popularly grew.
More than 2 million people now use its simple moviemaking tools, up from about 500,000 in June. According to Xtranormal, those users have published about 9.3 million videos so far. Some of the videos have received thousands or even millions of views, further boosting Xtranormal's popularity and usage.
This will be interesting to watch develop. I recall having some lively conversations a few years back with friends in the media biz and stating that the day will come when the cost for user-made content will shift from the consumer (via micro-payments, paywalls, ads, subscriptions, etc.) to the producer. my logic was simple- hosting these things costs a lot of money and somebody has to pay for it since viewers have proven rather unwilling to do so. A ton of hot social media sites are facing this issue. Twitter, Youtube, Vimeo, etc. Youtube is a bit of an exception since it has the Google sugar-daddy to keep it in heels and fur, but for the rest it's not as simple. How do you make money and not sacrifice the user experience which was so vital to getting popular enough to survive the start-up and attract some nice Series A capital investment from VCs? The Dot.Com boom of the late 90's taught us that investors are only so willing to keep pouring money into hot online spaces with no real business plans. As noted, consumers of user-created content have shown little willingness to pay for content and online ad rates are so depressed that only the largest of aggregators (ie: Google) can survive on the micro-finance level of online ads. Sooner or later someone was bound to try and see if the content makers would be willing to pony up some cash in order to have access to the big microphone that is the internet. Vanity publishing goes digital age.