Tobold's Blog
Thursday, October 15, 2015
 
Gamer social networks

I get about one mail per month announcing a new social network for gamers, and asking me to promote it. I never do, because I don't think they will ever work. The basic problem is one of critical mass: The budding gamer social networks have a few hundred to a couple of thousand members. Considering how many different games there are and how many millions of players some of these games have, such a small social network is simply of no use.

In social networks there is a huge first mover advantage. Facebook got millions of users because before Facebook there wasn't anything comparable. Later competitors only achieved critical mass if they offered something very different, or had an existing customer base like Google+ did. The basic attraction of creating a social network is you don't need to create content for it: The other people on the network *are* the content. But that means that if there aren't a large number of other people on the social network, that social network isn't very interesting. So it can't grow and get to the necessary size. A real dilemma.

To as far as people use MMORPGs as "social network", those considerations also apply to MMORPGs. WoW made the first mass market accessible game, and has benefited from that every since. Of course a MMORPG also has content, and lots of people play a game for the content and not for the social connection to other players. So there is still a chance that one day we'll see another multi-million player MMORPG, as long as it has far superior content than the existing games. I don't see one on the horizon.

If I were to design a "social network site for gamers", I would start by creating some content. That can be as stupid as a "gamer personality test" or similar stuff. If you manage to create something that goes viral, you'd have a chance to attract enough people to get past the first critical mass hurdle. A plain vanilla social network site for gamers with just an interface but no content at all has no chance to get there. People will just use existing social networks, forums, or game sites to connect to each other. It is easier to find another gamer on Reddit or Facebook than on a new social network site for gamers.

Comments:
The best social platform may be the game itself. The social network for wow players should be inside wow. The companies could step up in game social interaction for 2015, when they are stuck in the IRC model.
Another one who has some upstart in this is Steam, but I dont see it working today.
 
Gary Gannon commented on this about six years back when he and Ryan shut down their attempt at a gamer social network, GAX Online:

"I had thought that once the site had a user base and was “established” that it would sort of run itself based on quality content/blogging from the community. Unfortunately I have learned that without proper leadership a community of this nature may be impossible. Over time the sites content has slowly degraded and has become less and less valuable to anyone."

And so it goes. A site whose plan is to attract people who will then provide free content from which they will profit without providing some other draw is likely doomed. Raptr has their game play tracking and some stats. Xfire had stats and play tracking, but has gone off in the direction of tournament hosting. Neither became much of a social network, but both were better at that than most every other attempt.
 
One form of social network that is pretty unique to gaming is the "pick up group" where people form transient relationships with total strangers for a specific purpose. It is a much maligned form of social interaction because there are so many horror stories associated with it but when it works it can be a wonderful thing.

You can solve pick up group problems through game design but this is very limiting. You end up with either trivial difficulty or a kind of no lose system (like adding friends in a mobile game for additional rewards).

I wonder if one could design a social network to solve the pick up group problem while still allowing people to engage in challenging group content. Perhaps some kind of Ebay rating or maybe even something more complex like a dating site rating where it matches players of similar dispositions.






 
I think the only way to have pick-up groups that work well with challenging content is to have a way of causing the unwanted players to self-exclude.

That probably means having different levels of challenge available, such that certain dungeons (or whatever) simply aren't attractive to unskilled or uncommitted players. Then people who go to them are self-selected to be good pick-up team members. But that leads to the problem, from a corporate perspective, that content is being designed for a subset of users, which is economically inefficient.
 
The best social platform may be the game itself. The social network for wow players should be inside wow. The companies could step up in game social interaction for 2015, when they are stuck in the IRC model.
Another one who has some upstart in this is Steam, but I dont see it working today.
 
Gerry I agree that when you change the game's design to facilitate pick up groups you degrade the game on some way. That is why I wonder if some social network magic outside of a game could be used to solve it. Perhaps the dating site model might work. People could have profiles (I like to chat and have fun, I like to focus solely on the objective and so on) a players self submitted profile would be modified over time with feed back from other players.
 
Gerry I agree that when you change the game's design to facilitate pick up groups you degrade the game on some way. That is why I wonder if some social network magic outside of a game could be used to solve it. Perhaps the dating site model might work. People could have profiles (I like to chat and have fun, I like to focus solely on the objective and so on) a players self submitted profile would be modified over time with feed back from other players.
 
The problem is more fundamental: why would gamers use a social network?! Even if it would exist and established, full of people, why would the next guy join and share links and like pictures when he can just play games in that time?
 
Step 1 - Create game
Step 2 - Add Guides
Step 3 - Create external management/relationship tools.

I don't understand why Blizzard's Battlenet launcher doesn't have a sort of Tweetdeck layout. WoW guild members go in one column; former guild members in another; Diablo clan members in a third (and so on).
Oh yes, I remember now. Blizzard don't even know how to create an "Appear Offline" setting. Perhaps that is why they don't have their own social network.
 
Isn't Steam the biggest gamer social network at this point? Profiles, friends list, activity tracking, etc. Oh yea and the best place to actually buy games as well. How is anyone going to reasonably compete with that? Why would I try to create a friends list on some other platform when my Steam list is already on screen, and basically always one?
 
I'm in a guild in FFXIV that uses anook.com as a social site, but... honestly I forget I even have a profile there. If/when I do a blog post I'll throw a link to it on the FC's "nook" but I don't really see any traffic from it, so obviously no one else is really using it either.
 
It's like trying to creathe a new search engine for the web. Good luck with it. It's not impossible, Google isn't the only one out there... but it's not an easy task either.
 
"The problem is more fundamental: why would gamers use a social network?! "

Gevlon, if you really require this to be explained to you, then I'm not sure it's possible for you to ever truly comprehend.
 
@ blachawk

We already have stuff like Facebook, Twitter, Steam (which is gaming-focused). I think Gevlon is asking why gamers should need another social network. It's a bit too late to offer something "new".
 
I partially agree Tobold and partially not. I think there is still a big potential for gaming social networks but the way others do is not that good to acess more people. Also commenters have right concerns that "why would gamers sign up to a Gaming Social Network?"
As Rugus said everyone has Facebook, Twitter or maybe Steam which is limited to games on Steam only. But the things you can do in these networks are limited in terms of gamers requirements.

I'm also a hardcore gamer and 2 years ago me and my brother considered all these things and decided to build a social network platform that provides something more. Especially something that will answer our demands.
In social networks like Facebook or Twitter you can't interaction easily with specific audience you are interested in. For example maybe you don't care about Call of Duty players but you are looking for new fellas to play Guild Wars together. What you can do is make searchs for Guild Wars community pages or Facebook pages to find people.

We thought that we should have a platform that we can easily find gamers and also we should be able to show our tweets, youtube videos, twitch live streams on that. Because maybe we dont want to quit them but why not to have all in 1 place.
So we have implemented this option on our platform "Game Records" and included a game mate finder system to our network which gamers can find other gamers to play with. They can search them by game name or location too. Wouldn't be good that you see who is playing which game in your city?
Also what we implemented on our platform was Gamification elements that users can complete achievements and earn rewards like medals/titles and virtual currency "Coins" to spend for different things in site. Also we have developed a challenging system we call "Fights" to challange friends or everyone in the community that will return you with rewards -if you win"

I beleive these things can be some solid reasons to give a try to a Social Network for gamers. We should add some value for gamers, then they may choose to join the community.

Our site is on Beta stage but if you want to have a look at it you can visit and share your feedback by posting something on your wall
www.gamerecord.net
 
Post a Comment

Links to this post:

Create a Link



<< Home
Newer›  ‹Older

  Powered by Blogger   Free Page Rank Tool