Play Prime World
Play Prime World
Image of Ten Ways Social Media Has Changed The MMO

Social networks have effectively changed the way we...well, do pretty much everything. We interact differently, work differently, and even view the world differently since the birth of Facebook - there's even talk that it's bringing about a fundamental change in the way we think. It should thus come as no surprise that they've also had a considerable impact on the world of MMOs

Here's just a few ways that they're re-shaping both the present and the future of the industry. I'll let you folks be the judge of whether that's for good or for ill. 

A New Medium


With how successful many Facebook games have been (a partnership between Facebook and Zynga effectively put the latter on the map before it crashed and burned), it's no surprise that many developers are beginning to turn their eye to the social network. The nature of Facebook - a massive, interconnected communications hub that pretty much everyone uses - makes it uniquely suited as a platform for MMO developers particularly given how many games on the network feature grinding as a core mechanic. 

All an MMO developer really needs to do is offer some sweet incentives, and they've effectively already attained an audience.  Naturally, Facebook MMOs are going to look vastly different from more traditional fare, but we don't really have time to get into the intimate details here. If you're really keen on finding out more, I'd direct your attention to a rather excellent piece posted over on Joystiq

Facebook MMOs are just the tip of the Iceberg, too. 

Integration and Share-Ability


Let's be honest. Pretty much everyone here has an account on at least one social network - probably even several. It's how many of us communicate. Hell, let's be honest - it's how many of us define our social lives. Developers are aware of that, and as a result, MMOs are becoming ever more tied in with social sites. Since that's where all their friends tend to be, many folks are genuinely interested in sharing their accomplishments.

I'd not be at all surprised to see at least one dev try to implement in-game tweet and share buttons in the near future - nor would I be shocked to see people actually using them. 

Community Interaction


One side effect of the shift towards social media is that consumers and organizations are now closer to one another than they've ever been before. The relationships between players, and those between players and developers, have never been closer. That's both good and bad, of course. On the one hand, it keeps them accountable - more on that in a moment. On the other, well...let's just say that the more toxic folks online don't always attack other players.  

(Potentially) More Accountability


Feasibly, developers are hold accountable and taken to task for their mistakes more often now than they ever were (even if many people don't understand how to do such a thing diplomatically). The raw, unfiltered nature of websites such as Twitter means that if there's something wrong with an MMO - if a developer makes any mistake glaring enough to catch the attention of its players - they'll know almost instantly.

Co-Ordination


Back when I still played World of Warcraft, many of the guilds on my server had their own website - but they also tended, more often than not, to co-ordinate and collaborate over Facebook. They'd use the Facebook Events system to set up raid times, Facebook Groups could be utilized for announcements, and the messaging system could be used to keep in touch with one another. I'm fairly certain this level of co-ordination isn't unique to WoW, either: people are using social networks to drive their MMO experiences.   

New Methods of Advertising


I've long held that social media is one of the most valuable advertising avenues ever designed. Here, if you know how to effectively wield it, is a free, self-replicating ad campaign. All it takes is for one spot to go viral, and suddenly everybody knows about you; who you are and what you do. Because of this, MMOs have gained more exposure than ever before. 

New Players


This one can be attributed as much to World of Warcraft as it can be to social media: MMOs aren't really a niche market anymore. They're regularly discussed on Facebook, Twitter, and Google +, and as a result, many players who wouldn't necessarily be considering the game otherwise are beginning to find their way into the fold. This is both good and bad. On the one hand, it means you've more people to game with - always a plus in an MMORPG. On the other, well...

Accessibility Taken Too Far? 


You've heard this argument a thousand times before. MMOs have gotten easier in recent years. The challenge is gone, and far too many have effectively been transformed into a drip-feed of rewards, achievements, and repetition. Again, this isn't entirely the fault of social media - In World of Warcraft's case, these changes were implemented in the interest of accessibility. Take that how you will - for good or ill - but there's something of a disturbing bent to this gradual shift...

Social Feature Creep


Some time ago, renaissance man and game developer Ian Bogost released a title known as Cow Clicker. It was a parody - a scathing criticism of the sad state of social games; titles which, at the time, literally only existed for the grind. Depressingly enough, the satire actually ended up becoming a hit social game. Bogost actually made money off of it, off of the idea of forcing players into tedious, repetitive tasks then triggering the reward center of their brains by offering them digital prizes. 

Does that sound familiar? It should - it's exactly what many MMOs do in order to keep people playing. Lately - with the greater focus on accessibility over challenge - that's become particularly pronounced in several titles. 

Of course, there's a good side to all this, too. Just look at some of the social features on Steam or Twitch.tv. 

The Free To Play Craze


The free-to-play model is a lot older than some people think it is. It's actually been around since the late 90s, with titles like Furcadia, NeoPets, and Runescape. Back then, the model was unformed, though. Unrefined. Relatively unknown. In recent years, it's seen an explosion of popularity. While we can't ascribe sole responsibility to social games for this shift, we also can't discount the role they played in making the model more attractive to publishers. 

What do you folks think? How has social media changed the world of MMOs? Are these changes good, or teeth-gnashingly, hair-pullingly bad? Leave a comment! 





Similar Posts
  • Eight of The Most Memorable MMO Dungeons Ever Designed
    Eight of The Most Memorable MMO Dungeons Ever Designed

    Dungeons are a staple of the MMO genre; large-scale challenges requiring co-operation and co-ordination between anywhere from five to a few hundred players to adequately complete. Of course, not all are created equal, and some stand head and shoulders above their peers. Today, I'd like to tip my hat to those few legends, those instances that'll stick with us for years to come as shining examples of how to do dungeons right.

  • Ten Of The Best MMORPG Songs Ever Heard
    Ten Of The Best MMORPG Songs Ever Heard

    In many ways, an MMO is only as good as its music. Many of the best and most memorable moments in an MMO invariably have a song associated with them; a piece of music which brings the memories flooding back the moment it reaches one's ears. Today, I'd like to pay homage to some of those songs - and some of those moments. Here, for your listening pleasure (and in no particular order, I assure you) is a list of some of the best songs ever heard in an MMO.

  • Facebook's Purchase Of Oculus VR Isn't The End Of The World
    Facebook's Purchase Of Oculus VR Isn't The End Of The World

    For those of you who've been living under a rock, Facebook recently purchased Oculus VR to the tune of $2 billion. Understandably, backers and developers alike were rather unimpressed, calling it a betrayal. As for me? I've never been more excited.

  • Seven Of The Worst Things You Can Say In League
    Seven Of The Worst Things You Can Say In League

    If you've played league, you've probably encountered at least one toxic player. If you haven't, there's a good chance that YOU are the toxic one. Don't believe me? Ask yourself if you've ever said any of the following...

  • Six Reasons You Should Be Playing Dark Souls II
    Six Reasons You Should Be Playing Dark Souls II

    I've been playing a lot of Dark Souls II lately - and you should be too. Say what you will about the game's flaws, it's still arguably one of the best action RPGs released in the past several years. If you're up for a bit of a challenge, it's well worth the buy. Don't believe me? Let's talk, then.

  • Is Facebook Going To Ruin VR Gaming?
    Is Facebook Going To Ruin VR Gaming?

    Social networking giant Facebook today announced a new deal that will see the company purchase Occulus VR for around $2 billion.

  • Facebook Acquires Oculus, SMITE and Reaper of Souls Released and more! | The Daily XP March 25th
    Facebook Acquires Oculus, SMITE and Reaper of Souls Released and more! | The Daily XP March 25th

    Your Daily MMO and MMORPG News for Tuesday March 25th. Today Mark discusses SMITE, Diablo III, Albion Online, and Facebook acquiring Oculus VR.

  • Eight Reasons The Elder Scrolls Online Will Be Awesome
    Eight Reasons The Elder Scrolls Online Will Be Awesome

    As you're all no doubt aware, The Elder Scrolls Online - currently in open beta - will be launching in a few months or so. In light of both the new release date and all the hype surfacing around it, I've decided that, over the next two weeks, I'll be looking at all the reasons to look forward to it...and all the reasons we shouldn't.

  • League of Legends or DOTA 2?
    League of Legends or DOTA 2?

    The debate between Dota 2 and League of Legends has been raging almost since the two games were first released. But which game is REALLY the superior of the two?

  • Ten Fictional Settings That'd Make For Awesome MMOs
    Ten Fictional Settings That'd Make For Awesome MMOs

    Let's look at a few settings, worlds, and stories I'd love to see made into MMOs. I'm sure you'll agree, all the entries on this list have the potential to be downright awesome.


comments powered by Disqus