Thursday, October 23, 2008

Dear HSX: The redesign sucks

The Hollywood Stock Exchange has undergone a redesign. For reasons passing understanding, the powers that be at HSX have changed the format so that it is worse in just about every possible way. It's beyond horrible. So far I can't find anything that has changed for the better. The text is too small, the portfolio is too small and hard to read, the calendar is also too small and also hard to read, and when I tried to trade something, IE crashed. It used to be easy to tell which securities I was holding long and short, because the ones I was holding short were in red italics. Now they are all the same, with the word (long) or (short) next to each. Not as visually easy.

The formatting for the calendar used to be really well done; each day was clearly marked, the StarBonds, MovieStocks, and derivatives were all separate, and it was easy to find the next or previous weeks. Now everything is just in one big long list. On Monday, October 20, there are 28 securities listed on the calendar. Some of those I don't care about, some of them I do. But I have to squint at the damn list to figure out what exactly is going on.

And it's slower than ever, if that's possible. My portfolio usually takes a long time to load, but I do own about 1,700 securities, so there is a lot of actual text to load. I don't have the fastest computer, but I do have DSL. It's not even loading right now.

Of course the ads are now more intrusive. Someone's trying harder to make money on this, but my strong suspicion is that this will backfire, and badly. I haven't read a single completely positive post on the forums. One person had a "pro and con" list - that was the only thing I've seen that had anything good to say about this godawful mess. I normally ignore the forums, but I'm sure paying attention to them this week.

What's bizarre is that it was working fairly well, and now they've put a great deal of effort into redesigning it, and they threw out the things that were perfectly fine!

I've been playing HSX for 10 years. My portfolio is getting very close to H$2 billion. I am in the top 99.97% of all players. My lifetime return is over 98,000%. I'm really good at this, I like it, and I have put a huge amount of time into it. I've learned a lot playing HSX. Now I'm learning lessons I really don't want to learn. I already know what bad design and corporate screwups look like; I don't need any reminders on that score.

I wasn't playing much last winter and spring, but I have been playing fairly consistently of late, and I've been looking forward to upping my game a bit, playing the derivatives carefully, paying slightly more attention to openings and the StarBonds, that kind of thing. Now I'm really not sure I'm going to do more than check on the IPOs every couple of days and the StarBonds on Tuesdays. It's going to be more difficult to find the stocks that are tanking in my portfolio, which is a huge pain.

I've been toying with the idea of auctioning off my portfolio for a while, because it does take a certain amount of time just to maintain my ranking, and I could probably get something for it. I don't know how easy that it anymore; I think eBay outlawed selling virtual reality stuff like this. But the irony is that now that I am more inclined to do sell my portfolio, the market to do is, I'm sure, largely gone, because, until they fix this dog, ain't nobody going to be jumping in to play more HSX.

Which, of course, makes the game that much less interesting. Fewer players would just be less fun.

I am sincerely hoping that someone at HSX has the sense to realize what a horrible mistake they have made and fixes things pronto.


Alvaro Fernandez said...

use those H$ to buy HsX memorabilia, in the near future those may me worth as much as the Lehman brothers coffee mugs...

Mirko said...

Agree. How could they do that? Did a usability expert even came near the new design or did they hide it?

I am playing HSX for 10 years now - and will probably stop now. Thanks for the article and the clear opinion.

Bill said...

Dead on! I cant believe how BAD the redesign is! Why make it yet another MySpace?!?!?

Elven said...

I agree, I logged in once the other day, looked around, haven't been back. Been playing 5 years.

I actually am beginning to wonder if their whole plan is based around getting people to quit en masse, rather than announce they want to axe the project and do something else.

JohnTEQP said...

That's a good idea, using my H$ to buy stuff. I've been reluctant to do that, since I want to move up in the rankings, but at this point I'm really not sure I care anymore.

I am usually religious about selling and covering all the StarBonds that adjust, but it's Friday and I still have to deal with some. The damn site crashed when I was trying to sell something.

Anonymous said...

For 8 years, I bought movie that look interesting sell one that start to suck. I had no agenda, no plan. I only earned enough to keep myself respectable. I had fun. Now I feel like my favorite show was canceled. I’m going to go cry now.

nigeleccles said...

Ouch, I've just been trying out the new site and reading the comments on the forum. To me the intro of being able to make H$ out of schmoozing is the biggest problem. That completely takes the challenge out of the game.

I'm one of the co-founders of Hubdub ( which is a news prediction market. We are planning a re-design for next month. If anyone has any do's and don't's suggestions then feel free to drop me an email (to nigel [at] hubdub [dot] com). We really want as much input as we can from users on the new design.

Archie Levine said...

I've been playing for around five years or so, but tried to log in today and can't get past the new security log in page. WTF? I know my username and password, but I can't even get to the site.

JohnTEQP said...

I had the same problem trying to log on to the site - couldn't get pass some damn authorization thing. Now we can't even get to the damn site?!?!

For the guy from hubdub. My advice is simple. Make a list of everything that HSX did, then do the exact opposite. Starting with this: it might be a good idea to let your users know what the hell is going on.

Lauren said...

The site seems to be in admin limbo right now. Hopefully, they're correcting the errors and reverting back to the old can hope! Seems as if 90% of the users had the same thoughts as you...I know I did! :)

nigeleccles said...


LOL - I'll take that advice. I guess the other one is to actually speak to your users about the changes you want to make before you do it.

I'm meeting up with the founder of HSX next week. I'll be fascinated to find out what he thinks of this whole thing.

Anonymous said...

I go under the name "marco a" and I have been playing on HSX for 10 years as well and built a portfolio valued at $1.3B. Some of you are lucky to have access to your port's. As for me, my portfolio is at H$0 and HSX Support says it will be corrected [that was two weeks ago].

Nonetheless, I am one of those disappointed vet's that will be leaving the game. This article speaks the truth and my emotions are similar.

In regard to using HSX dollars to purchase items ... this is worthless as well, since the shipping costs equal the value of the item(s) you purchase.

A complete waste of 10 years.

So long HSX!

JohnTEQP said...

Well, folks, look like all our bitching and moaning worked! The old HSX is back!

To Nigel @ hubdub: Have fun at the lunch meeting with the founder of HSX. Would that be DMac? That should certainly be an interesting conversation! "How to piss off several hundred thousand loyal customers in five easy steps."

nigeleccles said...

No Max Keiser. I am sure he will have a lot to say.

Anonymous said...

Ok, so they bring the old site back but it is unstable and crashes all the time. I wish they could have gone with the old adage of "if it ain't broke, don't fix it." Oh well, maybe they will get it back to its original functionality but until then I won't be playing.

di-dar said...

Did anyone capture the screens from the redesigned HSX? I am curious to see how bad it is because I totally missed it!

JohnTEQP said...


Supposedly it is still up at, although I just tried it and it wouldn't take my password.